Hush, Hush & On the QT: Aspen A Gem Fest for Candidates

“Would those of you in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you’ll just rattle your jewelry.”
John Lennon

The Aspen area elite are doing much more than jangling their jewelry when it comes to politics. They are opening their glitzy pocket books for the current presidential candidates running in the 2008 election.

And the candidates are loving them back.As many as half dozen or so presidential hopefuls have or will be fundraising in Aspen in the next few weeks. Those include former Sen. John Edwards on Aug. 9th, Sen. John McCain soon after and former NY mayor Rudy Giulianni on the 15th. Pitkin County Democratic Chair Camilla Auger hopes Sen. Barack Obama won’t be far behind.

Obama better come by and say “thanks.” He was the dazzling Democratic in the Aspen area with nearly $30,000 added to his campaign account as of June, according to OpenSecrets.com. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson can’t complain with an extra $13,000 and Edwards, well, he has some work to do when he’s in town with less than $2,000 in contributions slipping behind Sen. Joe Bidden at $5,600.

Hillary Clinton has already dropped into town and is rumored to have picked up as much as $250,000 during her July visit to add to her approximate $15,000 raised through June. That will buy a few carats for her campaign.

Republican Mitt Romney has also paid a call, although as of June, his supporters from the 81611 zip code and surrounding areas have only contributed about $5,000 to his campaign in comparison to Giulliani’s $12,000 windfall. McCain has done ok, too, with about $9,200. Rep. Tom Tancredo has a few diamonds in the rough, raising about $5,600 from the Snowmass area.

The Pitkin County Republican chair Linda McCausland expects actor Fred Thompson to fly in sometime over the summer to dabble with the Aspen baubles. Although not running for president – yet – ole Newt Gingrich will be the guest speaker at the Aspen Institute on Aug. 3rd to probably to talk about his favorite subjects like political ethics and presidential impeachments.

Why the big interest in the Aspen area? It’s not to look at the rocks, but to pick up a few.

In the 2004 presidential election, Aspenites generously gave over $1.1 million with 75% of that going to Democratic causes. For the 2006 campaign, donations from 81611 zip code and surrounding areas reached nearly $1 million. Most likely, each presidential candidate is thinking ahead with those numbers in mind.

Or, are they just trying to find an excuse to vacation in the Colorado Rockies?

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Leslie Robinson

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