Coming soon: State in limelight

Colorado deluged with presidential candidates

Editors’ note: To help readers keep up with developments, the Herald will run a once-a-week review of campaign news to appear through Election Day, Nov. 6.

By Joe Hanel

Herald Staff Writer

DENVER – If President Barack Obama spends much more time in Denver, he’ll have to get Colorado license plates for the White House limo.

Obama visited the Denver area Thursday, for the third time in four months. The stop was the first in a coming onslaught of presidential candidates.

Already, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have reportedly booked trips to the state to stump for votes ahead of the Feb. 7 Republican caucus. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have not yet released travel plans.

Although Tuesday’s Florida primary is dominating the media now, attention soon will turn elsewhere. Maine and Nevada have caucuses a week from today, and the next Tuesday, Republicans in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri will vote.

Colorado Republican leaders last fall moved the caucus ahead by a month. It had been scheduled for March 6, and Democrats are sticking with the later date.

“I think Colorado Republicans exercised a great deal of foresight. I don’t think anybody could have predicted the race would be as fluid as it has been,” said Ryan Call, chairman of the state Republican Party.

After the polls close in Colorado on Feb. 7, there will be no more contests for three weeks – the longest span without a vote since the Republican roller coaster began in Iowa on Jan. 3.

“I think Colorado’s voice in the process will not be just important, it could be decisive,” Call said.

Two of the main candidates have put out word that they will soon be in Colorado.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported (http://noconow.co/y53qKz) that Paul will visit Colorado State University on Tuesday. Denver Westword reported (http://bit.ly/wDNDNs) that Romney will be here Feb. 6 and 7.

Pollsters say Colorado will be a pivotal state in the general election, too – hence Obama’s constant attention.

In his visit to Buckley Air Force Base on Thursday, the president talked about a top issue in Colorado, voicing his support for natural-gas drilling in the United States, in addition to the wind and solar power that he has supported all along.

In other campaign news this week:

Swonger DQ’ed: The state Democratic Party disqualified Silverton resident Patrick Swonger from the race for House District 59, currently held by Ignacio Republican J. Paul Brown.

Swonger was a day late in registering as a Democrat last year. As of Thursday, he still was weighing his options.

Other Democrats are talking about Durango lawyer Michael McLachlan as a candidate. He has not yet announced his intentions.

Tipton leading in poll: U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, topped Democratic challenger Sal Pace 46 percent to 39 percent in a poll conducted between Jan. 18 and 23 by Public Policy Polling on behalf of the House Majority PAC, a Democratic group.

But Democrats sense Tipton’s vulnerability. The PAC touted the results because they show just 39 percent of poll respondents think Tipton should be re-elected, while 54 percent think he should lose.

Public Policy Polling is aligned with Democrats, but its results tend to show a slight bias toward Republicans, according to the respected pollster ratings of The New York Times. The poll sampled 569 registered voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percent.

D.C. trip: Speaking of Pace, the state representative was gone from the Legislature on Tuesday and Wednesday to travel to Washington, D.C., where he attended the State of the Union and worked on his campaign.

Countdown: Ten days to the Colorado Republican caucuses. 283 days until the November election.

jhanel@durangoherald.com

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