Feb 062012
Authors: Kate Winkle

Republicans from across Colorado who desire change will meet today in their respective precincts from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for the Republican Caucus to, among other things, select delegates to eventually represent them at the Republican National Convention.

“Participating in caucuses is one of the ways in our political system you can express your opinion,” said Alex Higgins, president of CSU’s College Republicans. “Everyone has something they want to change in Washington, and the way to do it is to participate in an event like this.”

Some of the most pressing issues for CSU students involve higher education and the job market, which can be affected at both a state and national level.

“If the candidates say anything about higher education, or if it comes up, it’s definitely something CSU students should pay attention to –– it directly affects them,” Higgins said.

Larimer County encompasses 161 geographical precincts, many of which are lumped together for 60 precinct caucuses at various locations, according to Jerry Patterson, the Internal Vice Chairman for the Larimer County Republican Party. Only registered Republican voters participate in their respective precinct’s caucus, although those who do not meet the requirements are still allowed to observe the proceedings.

“Individual participation may or may not make a difference, but it is a civic duty to be somewhat involved in civic life,” said political science professor John Straayer in an email to the Collegian.

The caucus process acts as an informal meeting and deliberation time in which community members discuss candidates and issues and eventually elect delegates to represent their views via votes at later congressional, state and national conventions.

“It is your voice for the county party. The leadership of the county party will shape the direction for how the Republicans act and function these next four years,” Patterson said. “Participants get a voice for who gets on the ballot; preferential placement on the primary ballot is the only way you can express a preference for a presidential candidate.”

The Colorado Caucus is also the first step to determining the state’s support of a presidential nominee at the National Republican Convention held in Tampa, Fla. in August.

Mitt Romney, who received 50.1 percent of the vote in the Nevada Republican Caucus on Feb. 4, appears to also be the favorite candidate in Colorado, according to Straayer.

“Romney has the best chance in Colorado. He was the favorite four years ago and probably will be again. One advantage is the sizable Mormon population in Colorado,” Straayer said. “While Santorum and Paul do have some support, neither have much of a chance of catching Romney.”

Higgins agrees with Straayer’s prediction.

“I think Romney comes off as more electable, but Santorum is more conservative, especially socially,” Higgins said. “The candidates are all pretty comparable economically.”

Ultimately, the decision of candidate support comes down to Colorado voters and their preferences as expressed through the caucus system.

“There are not nearly as many participants in caucuses or primaries. I think it’s just as important. It’s a way to express an opinion of who they want to see and what changes they want in Washington,” Higgins said. “It’s important to get out and vote, their voice matters. It’s important for students our age to educate themselves on the issues.”

Collegian reporter Kate Winkle can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Colorado Republican Caucus
February 7, 2012
7:00-9:00 p.m.
Log on to http://caucus.cologop.org to find your precinct caucus location and more information.

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