Pugliese swamps District 3 field for Mesa County Commission at convention
Rose Pugliese, who wore fiery red to the Mesa County Republican Party convention Saturday, burned her two opponents in the race to represent the party in the Mesa County Commission District 3 election.
Pugliese captured 58.4 percent of the vote among GOP delegates gathered at the Avalon Theatre, leaving one of her opponents, Woody Walcher, to ponder whether to force a primary election by petition. The other opponent, Paul Nelson, said he will let the decision of the delegates stand.
Walcher’s 27.5 percent left him about nine votes short of spot on the ballot. If he chooses not to pursue collecting the signatures of more than 2,000 Republicans by April 2 to force the issue, Republicans will be spared a primary in the race to replace term-limited Janet Rowland.
Walcher said he will consider the petition process, but noted it poses a significant hurdle.
Dave Edwards, a Palisade Democrat, has no challengers for the District 3 nomination.
Pugliese’s victory was a reflection of ideology and organization, she said. A tea party activist who also worked in the Republican Party, Pugliese said she had feet in both camps.
“I think I’m the only person both sides of the party can get unified behind,” she said after the results were announced.
“That tea party label helps,” Pulgliese supporter Marjorie Haun said, calling Pugliese’s victory evidence the tea party is moving to correct the GOP.
It also didn’t hurt that she’s been “pretty active in the leadership of the party” and is “articulate, charming and dedicated,” delegate Cliff Knapp said.
When some suggested her victory was a comeuppance to the party establishment, Pugliese said, “Some people think I am the establishment, so I find that kind of amusing.”
Pugliese said her organization began months ago, when she was rounding up people to attend party caucuses and seek election as delegates for her.
As an attorney, Pugliese told delegates, she helped clients keep farms and ranches when threatened with loss to the estate tax, and she was proud of that accomplishment.
Nonetheless, she said she will be a full-time commissioner if elected, and not split time as an attorney.
Like other GOP candidates, Pugliese said in an interview her first priority would be the local economy, and she would seek to identify roadblocks to economic growth and try to remove them.
The success of the Pugliese’s organization was shown by the 34-member entourage on the Avalon stage for her nomination. Her swarm of backers easily swamped those of all of the other GOP candidates in both County Commission races.