Boulder County Republicans held their debate watch party in a back room of Carellis, not far from the Coors Center where the Party’s top ten candidates clashed on stage in front of a crowd of 1,000 in an auditorium that would have fit 9,000 more.
There were about 50 Republicans in this fancy white-tablecloth joint where there was also a running joke: It wouldn’t matter how small the room was, it would still fit just about every Republican in Boulder.
In a straw poll by The Independent of 25 of the graying, white Boulder Republican crowd, Marco Rubio tied with Ted Cruz as the winner. But, add in three bartenders, and the winner was Donald Trump.
No one for Jeb Bush. No one for Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee or John Kasich.
One woman said she thought Carly Fiorina won, and another attendee pulled for Chris Christie. Several either couldn’t name a clear victor, asserted that each Republican on stage won, or just didn’t want to say.
There was, however, one clear loser.
“Boo to the moderators,” one woman blurted.
“Disgusting,” said another at her table.
“They were horrible,” said a third.
“I think CNBC was very, very biased,” said Kandee Evans, a Cruz supporter dressed in a pink coat festooned with a button reading, “Why the hell do I have to press 1 for English?” She was angered at the moderators for not sticking to economic issues — which were supposed to be the subject of debate.
“They started a cat fight between our party,” she said.
Evans’ attitude mirrored the anti-media posturing of some of candidates. Big slams on the press by Cruz, Trump and Rubio drew some of the loudest applause in the room.
“The media got crucified tonight,” said retired Boulder County conservative Paul Hamilton. “The questions that they set up were extremely misleading … and they were set up with an idea to downgrade, denigrate, [and] provide dispersion on the candidates.”
Tim Ziegler, the second vice chair of the Republican Party in Broomfield, is irked the mainstream media portrays the GOP as the party of white people.
“And tonight we had a woman on stage, an African-American on stage, and we had two hispanic-surnamed gentlemen on stage,” he said. “And they’re clearly the winners of tonight’s debate.”
For one local Republican here, Deb Murphy, the debate was classic Boulder.
“It’s the most beautiful city in the world, but the most biased, obnoxious, God-hating culture,” she said, adding that Boulder harbors many closet Republicans scared to come out as conservative.
The county did gain at least one more Republican this year, though, when Arlene Devore, who has lived here for 50 years, finally registered as a Republican after she joined a GOP women’s group.
“I figured if they ever needed me,” she said, “they need me now this year.”
Photo credit: Corey Hutchins