The Democrats rallied in declarative fashion, filling the Fort
Collins High School library. Down the hall, a small, reserved group
of Republicans made their voices heard in Tuesday evening’s
Approximately 3,500 caucuses were held across the state Tuesday,
where citizens registered with their party were invited to come and
discuss issues with their neighbors and have their views heard.
The primary function of the caucuses was to decide which local
citizens would go to higher assemblies to represent their precincts
in helping decide which candidate their party will endorse.
Chatter and heavy discussion echoed in the high school library
as Democrats shared their views on which delegates should be
represented in their party’s affiliation.
Moderators and voters alike said the turnout for Tuesday night’s
caucus was extraordinarily large.
To many people, the caucus was a forum to express the pros and
cons of the officials running for either national or local seats in
the Democratic Party.
“What people do not realize is that the caucus is really where
you, as a grassroots person, make a stand,” said Deann Pujol,
chairperson for House District 52.
Ken Salazar, Colorado’s current attorney general, and Mike Miles
are both on the Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate to
replace Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Ignacio, who is retiring from
“Miles has a fantastic resume, and Ken Salazar speaks for
himself,” said Pujol, who believes the Democrats are in a strong
position to win no matter whom their candidate is.
Locally, Bill Bertschy and John Kefalas are running for the
state House seat and, according to moderators, the large turnout
was due, in part, to the heated battle locally and nationally for
“It is a great turnout tonight,” said Bertschy, who was allowed
to give two small speeches to the room of voters.
Kefalas was not present.
Bertschy believes it is important to persuade 18- to 25-year-old
voters and said his strongest platform in winning the House race is
“The future is so critically dependant on education,” Bertschy
As the two moderators paced the library, eagerly informing and
answering inquiries from voters, Bertschy had one thing on his
mind: making it to the House.
“I’m going to win this,” he said.
Linda Anderson, a mother of eight, has more time on her hands
now that all but one of her kids have moved away from home.
A retired schoolteacher, Anderson spends her time home-schooling
her youngest child and also works as a freelance writer and editor.
Her husband is a small-business owner and she feels that political
participation is the best way to get his voice heard.
“I’m at a stage in my life where I’m ready to get involved,” she
told her precinct as she offered to serve as precinct
Anderson is one of four people who attended the caucus for her
precinct. She sat among her fellow Republicans in a Spanish
classroom at Fort Collins High School.
When the attendees discussed whom the party should support for
U.S. Senate, between candidates Bob Schaffer and Peter Coors, the
precinct was divided, but people listened calmly to one another as
they voiced their opinions.
“I’m disappointed in Bob. I’ll be honest with you,” said John
Cheney, a member of Precinct 230.
Although the turnout for Precinct 230 was not particularly high,
the group had a common focus.
“I just don’t want any votes lost for the Republicans,” said
Phillis Chantler, a member of Precinct 230. “That’s the stage I’m
in right now. I’m just scared.”