Republican Headquarters Opens In Payson

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Charlotte Mortensen feels deeply John McCain would make an excellent president.

The Gila County Republican Party Chairman has shaken the Arizona Senator's hand. She's heard him give speeches, and she's looked him in the eye.

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Nancy Cox, left, and Patty Ihle put finishing touches on the Republican Headquarters sign in Payson. The party office is located at 1107 S. Beeline Highway.

"This is historic. We feel like we're going to have the next President of the United States from Arizona. I mean, think about it."

Gila County's Republican Headquarters officially opened Thursday evening in concert with McCain's First National Event Day.

Although the northern Gila County and southern Gila County factions were separated on Thursday, Mortensen said an upcoming rally will unite the two.

On Aug. 23, at 6 p.m. at the picnic area in downtown Pine, all area Republicans and other interested parties are invited to a barbeque and rally. "We've invited all the Republican candidates that we can get," Mortensen said. As for voters, "we're planning for at least over 100."

And just as strongly as Mortensen feels that McCain would excel as commander-in-chief, the Gila County Democrats feel similarly toward Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

The Democratic Headquarters opened in early July. "There's still a great deal of excitement," said Chris Tilley, president of the Northern Gila County Democratic Club.

The Republicans celebrated Thursday with pizza, a DVD from the McCain headquarters and a conference call with Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

"We have events in all 50 states across the county as part of the John McCain Nation First National Events Day," said campaign spokeswoman Crystal Benton.

The conference calls serve as opportunities to learn about campaign strategies and offer chances to ask questions, Benton said.

Mortensen said she is pleased with the office's progress. "We've got a pretty good group here going and we've been pleased to have people come in from the Tonto Apache Reservation wanting to get John McCain bumper stickers."

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