The sun beams into the east-facing Democratic headquarters in the morning. It bakes the west-facing Republican headquarters in the afternoon.
Are there other differences between the two parties and their La Plata County beehives?
Inside the Dems place at 11th Street and Main Avenue, next to the Downtown Smoke Shop, you may find a bicycle and a skateboard leaning against a wall.
Inside the Reps place at 12th Street and Camino del Rio, next to Durango Joes, youll find a flower cooler.
Bicycles, flowers turns out politics is all about peace and love. ... Yeah, right.
Its the season for slinging mud, although for the moment, despite their proximity, the windows are clean at both offices, allowing the morning or afternoon sun to stream in.
The season occurs at least every two years, and, although Obamamania is gone and McCain wont jet in like he did in 2008, this election still has folks in a tizzy. Nationally, Republicans are focused on retaking the House and making gains in the Senate. Locally, both parties are looking for the edge in hotly contested races.
So, this writer thought, why not pay a visit to the respective local quarters of our two-party system and see what theyre up to?
OK, a quick timeout for a public-service announcement: Today is the last day to register to vote. OK, please continue.
From the Herald, its slightly closer to Republican HQ, so that was the first stop.
Chris Miller, the Durango regional field director for the state committees Victory 2010 campaign, was nice enough but wasnt exactly ecstatic to have a reporter in the building. He put up with it for a little while.
The flower refrigerator is a leftover from the offices previous life as a floral shop. Now its a storage area for political yard signs. Since I pay the power bill, I dont run it, Miller joked. Instead, they put a fan just inside the open door and turn it on when the afternoon sun hits. But down to business.
Were just trying to get out the vote, he said, and theres different ways we can do that.
They want to make sure their core group votes, and the mail-in ballots a good way to accomplish that, Miller said.
In Colorado, voters have the option of mail, early voting at the courthouse or the polling booth on Election Day, which this year falls on Nov. 2. Sixty percent of the states registered voters now are permanent mail-in voters, said Rich Coolidge, communications specialist with the Secretary of States Office.
As a party leader, you might urge your constituents to apply for permanent mail-in ballots for this reason: In 2008, more than 90 percent of the states mail-in ballots were returned, Coolidge said. Its nearly a sure thing. Telling your constituents to go vote on Election Day is no guarantee.
Later, driven by curiosity, I visited the state Republicans website. I was chagrined to learn that Id missed the national committees Fire Pelosi Bus Tour on Thursday on the Front Range. Led by national chairman Michael Steele himself.
I kind of hoped the Democratic HQ would offer a contrast, but the similarities outnumber the differences. Bumper stickers, pamphlets, yard signs, volunteers on the phone, people drinking coffee.
Calling on cell phones and walking door-to-door remain crucial methods of contacting voters, said Lionel Dripps, campaign manager for Brian ODonnell, who is running for state representative.
Dripps didnt chase me away but didnt invite me to sit for tea, either.
He answered a few questions, talked to a volunteer who wanted to help voters register and explained what the five or six people in the office were up to.
Theres a massive amount of things to do, he said. You never get through all of them.
Dripps phone then rang twice in succession, and he excused himself, inviting me to hang around and talk to others. But the HQ tour had run its course.
After finding nonpartisan amusement from the South Park-like cartoon lampooning Attorney General John Suthers on the state Democrats website (the elephant is getting Suthers to do tricks), I decided that phone calls to local party chairpersons were in order.
Jean Walter, the Dems chairwoman for La Plata County, acknowledged that mail-in ballots have changed strategy. They hit the phones and streets hard twice now: right after the ballots are mailed out Oct. 12 and again right before Election Day.
And, of course, she talked optimistically about the outstanding candidates the Democrats have to offer in 2010.
Tom Crabb, the GOPs co-chairman for La Plata, noted that mail-in ballots mean you have to distribute your resources differently. Its probably more like a barbell instead of a spearhead. In other words, you make a big push early and late, with a lull in the middle.
And, in conclusion, he said, Were looking for a good turnout and good results.
I pointed out to Crabb that I just heard approximately the same thing from the Democrats.
Yeah, but they dont say it with as much enthusiasm and glee as I do.
And you thought there was no party difference.
johnp@ durangoherald.com. John Peel writes a weekly human-interest column.