Western Slope Reactions

1:28 I’m glad I’m too tired to hit the sack yet. Challenger Gail Schwartz has moved ahead of Republican incumbent, Lew Entz by about 600 votes with 112 out of 114 precints in. Still too close to call and this race may have to be recounted before we know the results for sure.

Looks like two more house seats on the West Slope will stay Democratic: Bernie Buescher in the 55th and Dan Gibbs won handedly over Ken Chlouber. (Ken, it’s time to leave politics behind….)11:38 There are a few 25-something year old campaign workers who are going to be very sorry about their over-celebrations tonight here in Mesa County.

I’m headed back to Rifle to finish my reporting, so hang in there for a little while for the results on the State Senate 5th between Gail Schwartz and Lew Entz. Schwartz is behind by 2,000 votes, but not quite 50% of the precincts have been counted yet.

Buescher is expected to win in Mesa County (take that, Trailhead 527’s,) and Salazar has over 50% of the vote in Mesa County, which means he probably will be in a “safe” seat from now on.10:22 Lew Entz takes a slight lead over Schwartz with nearly half of Pitkin County precincts counted. This could go on all night. But the Perlmutter expected win announcement evokes cheers amongst the die-hards here in Mesa County. The 55 race numbers haven’t changed in an hour, but it’s estimated that 2/3rds of the vote is already in and Buescher has a comfortable lead.

Barker hasn’t decided when to make his bows to Penry yet and Atward has chosen not to concede, if ever, he says.

10:11 Oh, oh, The tequila comes out.

Scott Tipton just called to concede to Salazar.

9:57 Salazar sends his thanks to the Mesa Co. Dems. Penry has been highlighted as the winner of State Senate 7. Champagne is still flowing. Announcements are made about the local candidates.

Mesa County chair thanks all the volunteers. More tinkling of glasses. Whoops and shouts. Clanks of empty bottles in the trash. The party may be winding down, but I don’t dare leave my seat at the computer to find out. Others breeze in and out to see the statewide updates on my computer screen.

9:43 In state senate seat 5, Democratic challenger Gail Schwartz just took the lead against incumbent Lew Entz. In Delta County, she was losing 2 to 1, but apparently more Democratic friendly precincts are being added up.

I get up from my seat for just a second and former 3rd congressional candidate, Jim Spehar from Grand Junction sits down to look at the statewide results. More folks huddle around the computer screen. I have to take a notebook to fight them all off so I can continue reporting.

9:34 It was just announced by the Congressman John Salazar campaign that enough votes were in to declare themselves the winner in the 3rd. Now the champagne comes out, but the crowd starts to thin.

9:08 Dana Barker, the long shot for State Senate 7 comes into the little room I’m in with the only working computer. He shows me a photo of a truck covered with his banners and posters. He looks at the returns I have on the screen showing him at around 30%.
“Awww,” he say dejectedly. “I was hoping for at least a 40/60 split.”

“Well, only a third of the votes are in, ” I say. But we both know it won’t change.

8:50 Just ran out of beer at hqtrs. Three cases in two hours. Disaster! The hat was passed and someone’s going for more. Another campaign worker opens a drawer and pulls out whiskey. “Beer’s for breakfast,”  he declares.

8:42 pm: Mesa County results are coming in. With 18 out of 42 precincts, Buescher leads 56% to 44%. He seems to be the only statehouse Mesa County Democrat doing well.

8:37 pm: I’m on the computer and take a look at the Rocky Mt News Internet site that just predicted Bill Ritter the winner for governor. A Salazar worker announces it. The chatter in the background rises another octave.

8:18 pm: A huge roar commences; Rep. Bernie Buescher just entered the Mesa County Democratic Hqtrs. “Ritter’s ahead!” (Cheers) “Congressman John Salazar’s ahead!” (Cheers) Buescher thanks everyone for their work and is enveloped by the crowd. I try taking photos but with all the people surrounding him, all I get is the top of his head.

7:40 pm: Vice Chair of the Mesa County Dems, Tarrah Henrie was more encouraging. “As of 3 pm this afternoon, 47% of the Democrats had voted versus 44% of the Republicans. Of course, they have much larger numbers than we have to begin with, but I think they aren’t as excited as we were to get out to the polls,” she said.

On Rep. Bernie Buescher’s re-election campaign, Henrie hoped that voters would see beyond the negative ads that churned up falsehoods about his record.

Dana Barker, Democratic Senate 7th candidate against Rep. Josh Penry, dashes in hoping that he can still find a motel room in Grand Junction tonight.

“At 7 pm at the Mesa Mall polling center, there were about 150 people still waiting in line to vote,” Barker estimated. “We’re not going to know which way these races in Mesa County are going until midnight at best,” he predicted.

A huge cheer can be heard in the background. Did the Dems win another US Senate seat?

Henrie returns with a 4 month old baby in her arms and a noisy 2 year old vying for her attention. “We have high hopes for Rich Alward for the 54th, too.”


“He was a great candidate. We saw more Dems in his district voting between 7-9am than Republicans. That was really encouraging.”

I take a look at the TV’s up in front of the audience. The big screen has CNN, the small screen, “Dancing with the Stars.” Well, at least politics is taking the front stage for tonight.

7:24 pm : Apprehensive. That’s the best way to describe the mood at the Mesa County Democratic Party. Lots of 527 money was poured into the fight over House District 55 race that had Democratic incumbent Bernie Buescher facing a tough challenge from Republican Bob Caskey.

The polls closed at 7pm, however, long lines are reported still at the polls. Folks, this race won’t be over until it’s over.

Leslie Robinson is in Grand Junction at the Mesa County Democratic Headquarters checking on the race for HD-55 and getting general Western Slope reactions. Updated about every 15 minutes….read below for the latest.

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