Sonnenberg wins 4th District straw poll in Holyoke, his second straw poll victory

By BRIAN PORTER | The Rocky Mountain Voice

The candidate that emerges in Colorado’s 4th District to represent the eastern third of the state in Congress will have a tall order – to serve a predominately urban population along the Front Range and a mostly rural population along the furthest reaches of the Eastern Plains.

Jerry Sonnenberg may have begun making the case he is one who can do it, winning his second straw poll in the district Sunday at a tri-county forum held in Holyoke.

The combined Phillips, Sedgwick and Yuma County event drew a crowd of about 200-250 and Sonnenberg came away with 55 of the 184 votes cast to take 29.9% of the vote. Ted Harvey gathered 38 votes to finish second and Lauren Boebert was third with 30 votes. Boebert had won a previous straw poll in Windsor.

“I’m pretty proud of these results,” Sonnenberg said. “I think it shows the amount of support people on the Eastern Plains have for a homegrown candidate.”

A little more than one-quarter of the district’s population is rural, and Sunday those residing in the far northeastern area of the district were provided an opportunity to meet the candidates in an event coordinated by Phillips County Republican Party Chairman Steven Brown and party leadership from the other two counties.

The event followed Lincoln Day dinners the previous weekend in Weld and Douglas Counties.

“Our goal has always been to have a quality event where people learn something. We don’t want cost to be restrictive to anyone,” Brown said. “We had people drive here from all over.”

As he sought volunteers to help with the event, Brown was approached by an unaffiliated voter who wanted to play a role.

“She wanted to help, but she’s unaffiliated,” Brown said. “This is a Republican event, so we weren’t going to let her come as a worker. So, she changed her registration to Republican.”

Sonnenberg had collected the straw poll win in the first event in Weld County, where he defeated Rep. Mike Lynch by two votes and Deborah Flora by four votes.

On Sunday, Sonnenberg’s closest opponent was 17 votes back of his total. Sonnenberg ranches in Logan County, which neighbors the three counties to jointly put on the forum. He also holds the endorsement of former Sen. Cory Gardner of Yuma.

“A straw poll is a 30,000-foot view of the candidates and the people in that room. This was rather decisive,” Sonnenberg said. “This means quite a bit more [than the first straw poll in Weld County], simply because it was three counties and a very large attendance.”

The district includes 21 counties.

Finishing fourth in the straw poll was Richard Holtorf with 19 votes, Trent Leisy with 16, Deborah Flora with 14, Chris Phelen  with 8, Floyd Trujillo with 2, and Michael Lynch and Peter Yu each collected one vote. It was a good showing by Yu, Sonnenberg said, who could not attend because of a family emergency, but still came away with a vote.

“It was a nice crowd and we had a nice location,” Brown said. “We were sorry to hear some people didn’t get the ballots, and we know there were people that left early before voting.”

Each candidate in attendance offered 1-minute responses to questions and then faced a lightning round of yes or no response questions.

“I think the crowd enjoyed the event,” Brown said. “They got to know a little about all of the candidates.”

The result of the straw poll gives Sonnenberg some momentum as the campaign continues, he said.

“The campaign is going very, very well. I have renewed interest from a number of people and donors,” Sonnenberg said. “The polling we’re seeing is this has become a race between Boebert and me. I’m excited about what I see going on. We’re starting to see a trend now. It is basically a two-person race.”

While there is some argument a straw poll is unscientific, Brown finds it to be important.

“The candidates are pretty serious about it,” he said. “It is is an indication of what people thought of the candidates. We know Phillips, Sedgwick and Yuma are only about 2.8% of the district’s population, if we had all the Republicans there. It may at least give us an indication of our three counties.”