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ELECTIONS 2004

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7/9/2004

Monday deadline for voters to register
August primary to settle party debates

John Fryar
The Daily Times-Call

DENVER — Coloradans will get the chance to help settle a set of political family feuds in next month’s primary election contests.

The highest-profile arguments are intra-party disputes over who would best carry the Republican and Democratic banners in the battle for a U.S. Senate seat. Brewing magnate Pete Coors of Golden is battling former Congressman Bob Schaffer of Fort Collins for GOP votes, while Fountain School District Assistant Superintendent Mike Miles of El Paso County is vying with Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar of Denver to be the Democrats’ pick to advance to the general- election ballot.

As of mid-June, 1,053,584 Coloradans were registered as Republicans and therefore could take part in deciding between Coors and Schaffer, according to tallies from the secretary of state’s office. There were 869,715 registered Democrats who could participate in choosing between Miles and Salazar.

Monday is the final day that Coloradans who are not already registered to vote can do so in order to cast ballots in the primary election .

Monday also is the final day that already-registered Democrats can switch their affiliation to Republican, if they’d prefer to help decide a GOP contest — or that already-registered Republicans can change their affiliation and declare themselves to be Democrats in order to vote in that party’s primary balloting.

Similarly, anyone now registered as a member of the Libertarian, Green, Natural Law, Reform or American Constitution parties must change their affiliation between now and the close of business on Monday if he or she would prefer tipping the primary- election scales in a GOP or Democratic race.

Otherwise, the only “minor-party” primary — reportedly, the first in history — will be in eastern Boulder County’s state Senate District 17, where Longmont Libertarians Bo Shaffer and Dwight K. Harding are vying for that party’s votes.

Any Coloradan on registration rolls as an unaffiliated voter — a total of 934,429 as of June 15 — also can participate in the primary elections , but only if he or she fills out forms declaring himself or herself to be a Democrat or Republican when voting.

That switch, from unaffiliated status to major-party membership, can be done during early voting or on the official Aug. 10 primary- election day.

Unaffiliated eastern Boulder County voters also can designate themselves as Libertarians when they cast their ballots, if they want to make a pick in the Shaffer-Harding dispute.

The only statewide primary contest other than those running for U.S. Senate will be on Democratic voters’ ballots for an at-large seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents. Democrats will choose between incumbent Jim Martin of Boulder and retired lobbyist Wally Stealey of Pueblo.

However, the primaries will decide major-party disagreements in four congressional contests:

In the 4th Congressional District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave of Fort Morgan must withstand a challenge from fellow Republican Bob Faust of Johnstown before Musgrave can advance to a rematch with her 2002 battle with Loveland attorney Stan Matsunaka, the Democrat seeking to unseat her.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Mark Udall of Boulder County is alone on the Democrats’ 2nd Congressional District primary ballot, but the district’s Republican voters will choose which of two Boulder men — Stephen M. Hackman and Michael P. Kennedy — those voters prefer to be their party’s challenger to Udall’s re- election bid.

The 5th Congressional District’s GOP voters will decide whether to advance veteran U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley or fellow Colorado Springs Republican Mike Payton to the general- election ballot. Democrat Fred Hardee, also of Colorado Springs, is alone on his party’s primary ballot for that seat.

Republicans in the 3rd Congressional District — an “open seat,” because incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis of Grand Junction decided not to run again — can choose one of five GOP hopefuls: Greg Walcher of Palisade, Matt Smith of Grand Junction, Dan Corsentino of Pueblo, Gregg Rippy of Glenwood Springs or Matt Aljanich of Steamboat Springs. John Salazar of Manassa is the only Democrat on the 3rd CD primary ballot.

Several intra-party legislative, district attorney and county commissioner contests also are to be decided when the primary- election votes are counted, including the following:

In eastern Boulder County’s state Senate District 17, Brandon Shaffer of Longmont and Chris Berry of Lafayette are competing for Democrats’ votes. The Democratic winner will join Republican Sandy Hume of Longmont — as well as either Bo Shaffer or Dwight Harding from the Libertarian Party — on the November ballot.

Weld County Republicans will choose between two Greeley lawyers — Ken Buck and Tom Quammen — in the 19th Judicial District contest over who will succeed A.M. Dominguez Jr. as district attorney.

Boulder County Democrats will make primary- election choices in the Gary Sanfacon vs. Will Toor contest for the Boulder County commissioner’s seat being vacated by term-limited Democrat Paul Danish.