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A hard day for incumbents

Brief by Central Staff

Local Politics – September 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

Chaffee County set the state record for voter turn-out in the Aug. 8 Republican primary, where challenger Joe De Luca defeated two-term incumbent Frank McMurry by 1,787 to 1,293, which works out to a 58-42 margin. No Democratic candidate has been named, so De Luca is pretty well assured of election in November.

The GOP primary attracted 3,080 total votes, and there were 4,489 registered Republicans in Chaffee County on July 7, the deadline for registering for the primary. So that works out to a 68.6% turn-out.

But that’s actually way too high, because independents could vote in the GOP primary, and there were 3,187 unaffiliated registered voters. There were no contested races on the ballot for the county’s 2,928 registered Democrats, but 336 Democrats voted anyway. The official Republican turnout, according to The Denver Post, was 49.2% in Chaffee County. The statewide average was 12%.

Just as there were “McCain Democrats” during the presidential primary season, there were some “De Luca Democrats” around here. The county clerk reported that between Feb. 10 and July 7, the GOP gained 556 registrations, and the Democratic party lost 240 voters. De Luca’s margin was 494 votes, so he would have won without any help from turn-coat Democrats like this magazine’s publisher.

Aug. 8 was a hard day for another incumbent, Lake County Commissioner Jim Morrison, who lost 329-241 to Bill Hollenback in the Democratic primary. He’ll face Republican Dennis O’Neil in November.

An incumbent commissioner survived a challenge in Custer County, where Larry Handy defeated Bill Jack 567-409 in the Republican primary.

In another Custer commissioner district, incumbent Cleo Day was not running again, and Dick Downey defeated Chuck Steigerwalt 518-445. Custer had a 38% turnout.