DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado Republicans say they’ve never seen interest so high. This weekend they’re holding their state assembly where more people than ever are vying to go to the national convention.
The Republicans are choosing their national delegates. They will send 36 delegates to their national convention where they officially pick the party’s nominee.
In 2008, 387 Colorado Republicans ran to be a delegate. This year, 859 are running — more than twice as many — and two-thirds of them have never run before. Party leaders say it’s an indication of how much is at stake this year.
As Colorado Republicans gathered for their state assembly the Mitt Romney campaign sent some heavy hitters to do some heavy lifting. Josh Romney says his dad understands Colorado’s importance and that he has work to do in the state after losing the state caucus.
“My dad’s going to be out here a lot; we’ll get my mom out here. The nice thing about having five boys is we’re able to campaign all around country and talk to voters. I’ll be out here,” Josh Romney said.
If Romney can unify the party in Colorado it will be a force. There are 6,500 Republicans attending the convention this year, and more than twice as many want to be a national delegate.
“They understand not only is this a historic election in terms of the direction the country headed, but they also understand that the next president is likely to elect Supreme Court justices, likely to set the tone and direction for our country for literally a generation,” Colorado Republican Chairman Ryan Call said.
Call says Colorado is one of only a half dozen swing states that could decide the presidency. Jefferson County may determine who carries the state.
“We really do have a cross section of the population,” Jefferson County Party Chairman Don Ytterberg said.
Ytterberg says if turnout at the county assembly is any indication the president should be worried.
“Not only moderate Republicans who may have gone away from Mr. McCain, but we’re seeing left of center unaffiliated, and even Democratic voters who are changing registration and wanting to work with our candidates,” Ytterberg said.
What they haven’t done yet is get behind their likely nominee.
“We’re going to do everything we can to reach out to Colorado voters,” Josh Romney said.
Congressional District 7 — one of the bell-weathers that includes part of Jefferson County — elected its three national delegates Thursday night. One pledged to vote for Romney, one for Rick Santorum even after he dropped out, and one for Ron Paul. It’s not exactly a sign of a party that’s on the same page.
The Democratic state assembly takes place in Pueblo on Saturday.