Tonight is Caucus night in Colorado. Thousands of political junkies and activists will turn out to elect delegates to represent candidates at the party state assemblies in May.
Key races to watch include the Democratic and Republican U.S. Senate contests.
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet faces a primary challenge from popular former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. GOP front-runner Jane Norton is battling to put distance between herself and Weld County D.A. Ken Buck and former state Sen. Tom Wiens.
GOP candidate for governor Scott McInnis has struggled for months to win solid grassroots activist support. Challenger Dan Maes will be looking to score a major boost tonight from Tea Party voters.
In the swing Fourth Congressional district, four Republicans have been jockeying for the chance to run against Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey, they are Yuma state Rep. Cory Gardner, CU Regent Tom Lucero, National Guardsman Diggs Brown, and regular guy Tea Partier Dean Madere.
Apart from the informal straw polls taken at candidate rallies over the past half year, the caucuses will be the first real test of candidate electoral strength.
In 2008, the presidential primary contests brought Republicans out in force to caucus for Mitt Romney while Democrats mobbed meeting places to weigh in on the neck-and-neck tooth-and-nail wrestling match between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.
This year, the energetic Tea Party movement has already mobilized thousands of Coloradans on the right and left, as have intense national debates over health reform and the stimulus package and bank bailouts, for example.
In 2008, roughly 120,000 Democrats and 70,000 Republicans turned out to caucus. As the Colorado Statesman reports, though, average attendance at caucuses has been closer to 15,000 for each party.
An interesting note: In Larimer County, at least, the vast majority of Democratic caucuses will be held in public schools while the vast majority of Republican caucuses will be held in churches.
Join Our Live Colorado Caucus Coverage
The Colorado Independent and other Colorado blogs have teamed with the Colorado Political Institute to post live coverage from all around the state. Readers can add their voice to tonight’s coverage by tweeting updates from your precinct and interacting with the caucus live feed.
Contributors can begin adding their blow-by-blow coverage to the feed beginning at 6pm Mountain Time. Updates will be aggregated into our caucus stream and will include input from politicos, elected officials, and activists. Our coverage will include updates directly from party headquarters, meaning we will be the first to report statewide results.
Help us leverage the power of social media by tweeting from your caucus location and by including the hash tag #caucusCO.
If you are not caucusing, our live coverage will keep you informed.
How to contribute
Twitter: tweet news and delegate outcomes with the hash tag #caucusCO
Email: You can email updates, questions, and media to email@example.com
Online: View and interact with live coverage right here at the Colorado Independent.
You can also embed the Stream at your own sites. Grab the stream code from http://coloradopoliticalinstitute.org.
On the Colorado Independent, the live feed will appear in the spot below this main feature.