Eagle County clerks keep abandoning GOP

Must be something in the mountain water, or maybe the crisp, clean air, but clerks in Eagle County — home to Vail and Beaver Creek — keep jumping political ships, abandoning the local GOP in favor of the Dems.

Current clerk and recorder Teak Simonton pulled the switch Monday, saying her “core values are more closely aligned with those of the Democratic Party.”

Now in her second term, Simonton was first voted in as a Republican in 2002 and then overwhelmingly reelected in 2006. She said her recent decision has nothing to do with what some moderate Republicans have dubbed the "right-wing mean machine" when referring to the local GOP. Simonton had a recent dispute with a conservative blogger.

Her predecessor, Sara Fisher, made the same move in 2001 after her own party unsuccessfully sued her, alleging voting irregularities in the close election of Democratic county commissioner Arn Menconi the previous year.

Fisher was then elected county commissioner as a Democrat in 2006 despite some nasty smear tactics involving anonymous postcards with racial undertones.

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail and Real Aspen.