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Sanders, Clinton campaigns prepare for large caucus turnout

The Roaring Fork Valley’s political landscape will be active Tuesday night, as neighbors gather to caucus for their candidates. Campaigns for the top two Democratic presidential contenders are especially fired up.

  Nearly two dozen people are gathered for a caucus training in Carbondale. Organizers are explaining how to use a smartphone app when knocking on door, as well as an online database for phone banking.

Carol Carroll is in the audience and she has another method for recruiting more Bernie supporters. “I’m bar banking!” she exclaims. “I’m finding people in the bar who are like ‘yeah, go Bernie!’ And then we talk.” Carroll hopes these one-on-one interactions, plus word of mouth, will bring dozens of new folks to her precinct caucus in Glenwood Springs Tuesday night.

Carroll went to a meeting back in August about how a caucus works, because this is her first time participating in one. “What the campaign has told us is the majority of people…[likely] caucusing for Bernie have never been to a caucus,” says Robin Van Norman. She’s also based in Glenwood Springs and describes her role as, “the Bernie caucus captain, training captain. So I am responsible for recruiting Bernie caucus captains for the Garfield County twenty-seven precincts, and then making sure that they’re trained for the caucus evening.”  Van Norman’s feeling confident about how things are going so far. She says a caucus webinar by the Sanders campaign has really helped.

There will be seven locations for Garfield County Democrats on Tuesday night. Registered members of the party will vote for their presidential pick, which then determines how many delegates Sanders and Clinton will get at subsequent — and bigger —  party caucuses. Ultimately delegates will attend the national convention in Philadelphia this summer.

Republicans in Pitkin and Garfield counties are also caucusing Tuesday night, but they're not choosing a presidential nominee. State party leaders decided to hold off this time around, to make sure they don’t end up assigning delegates for a candidate who drops out before the GOP convention in Cleveland.

Aspen High School student Julia Ely supports candidate Hillary Clinton; she and a handful of others are spending a weeknight calling fellow Democrats and asking them to support Clinton.

This will be Ely’s first caucus as well. “I’m just picturing the worst right now,” she laughs. “A big crowd being ushered like cattle... just chaos. But I am really excited to see how it works.”

“I think it’s going to be organized chaos,” says superdelegate and former Pitkin County Party Chair Blanca O’Leary. She’s hosting this mini get-together. “I don’t think it’s going to be as chaotic as people are worried about. The greatest thing is that we have a really nice facility, and it’s big.” Tuesday night’s caucus for Pitkin County Democrats will be at the Aspen High School, one spot for all ten precincts.

These Clinton supporters have held caucus training nights as well, using candy to represent how votes and delegates are tallied. Which campaign does a better job of preparing for the caucus will be evident Tuesday night.


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