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Pueblo seen as bellwether community for 2020 election

Posted at 1:06 AM, Mar 04, 2020

PUEBLO, Colorado — Some national media outlets are looking at Pueblo County as a bellwether community for the 2020 presidential election. National Public Radio named the Home of Heroes one of its 8 Key Places that Will Explain 2020.

Journalists from member stations will interview Pueblo voters periodically until election day in November to help gauge where the national race is headed.

"Donald Trump narrowly won a community that has a higher number of registered Democrats than Republicans, and then two years later that same community elected a Democratic governor," said Bente Birkeland, a reporter with Colorado Public radio. "So, that's not something we see throughout the country where you have a really swing region."

The latest results, (released at 10:07 p.m.) show Bernie Sanders holding a narrow lead 291 vote leadeover Mike Bloomberg in Pueblo County with Joe Biden coming in a close third.

A few dozen supporters filled into the Pueblo County Democratic Party offices to watch the results come in.

"I'm feeling hopeful, and also a little bit scared," said Maurice Burkhead, a Sanders supporter. When asked why he felt scared, Burkhead replied "Because I don't think Biden is the best choice to be the nominee."

Paul Rael turned in his ballot early and voted for Mike Bloomberg. Rael said after watching the Democratic Debates, he regretted that choice. Like Burkhead, he felt discouraged by the success Biden appeared to be having in other states.

"I don't think he's sharp enough to go against Trump, I'm telling ya. It just, it concerns me, it does," he said.

Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz reported a last minute surge in ballot returns on Tuesday. He estimated another 10,000 to 11,000 ballots could come in by the polls closed.

Another Sanders supporter, Kyle Boyd, said he participated in get-out-the-vote efforts locally during the day and wasn't surprised by the late rush.

"We held a couple of canvasses here in Pueblo, made sure we reached out to family members and friends, made sure they knew where their ballot was and where their polling station was, how to turn it in, when the due date was."

The race on the Republican ballot wasn't close at all. Donald Trump won 95 percent of the 17,115 ballots cast here, as of 10:07 p.m.

Nick Gradisar, Pueblo's Democratic Mayor cautioned not to read too much into Trump's 2016 victory here.

"It's been a Democratic town, but it's always been a conservative Democratic town," Gradisar said. "I think Donald Trump said some things in 2016 that appealed to people. Now, I hope they found out that he didn't mean what he said and he's not doing what he said."

Jenna Ellis, a Senior Legal Adviser with the Trump Campaign, said they believe the President could win in Colorado in 2020. She said roughly one in six people who attended the Trump Rally at the Broadmoor World Arena on February 20 voted with the Democrats in 2016.

"We've gathered really great data of how many registered Democrats are actually crossing party lines and they're seeing that President Trump is actually the President for all of America," Ellis said.