by Kelly Sloan | 1:49 pm, March 7, 2012 | Comments Off
The sleepy Western Slope has begun to awaken politically over the past few weeks.
Beginning around a month ago with a simple traffic stop involving Rep. Laura Bradford (R-Collbran) that quickly became a political story of Pandora-esqe calibre, Mesa County’s two house districts have been the ones watch, (if only with furtive sideways glances, so as not to betray any actual concern that something of import may occur on the forbidding side of the Eisenhower tunnel.)
The news of Rep. Bradford being stopped by Denver police on suspicion of driving under the influence, spiced up by insinuations – later pronounced fallacious by the DPD – that the Collbran Republican tried avoiding prosecution by citing an obscure section of the Colorado constitution that forbids the arrest of a sitting member for anything less than a felony or treason on their way to or from a legislative function, touched off a chain of events that threatened the tenuous balance of power in the House, and shifted the political spotlight temporarily off of Denver, over the hills, through the woods, and onto Grand Junction.
An ensuing comedy of errors, highlighted by a flurry of allegations, counter-allegations, reversals, yet further allegations, and a general mishandling of the episode by nearly everyone involved, culminated in a fully matured scandal that left at least the perception (in a business where perception is nearly everything) of a weakened candidate in Laura Bradford, inviting the inevitable speculation that someone would emerge to challenge her for the seat.
Speculating ended officially last Thursday, March 1st, when John “Rusty” Price filed his candidacy with the Secretary of State’s office (a story broke by the present author in Colorado Peak Politics), followed by his formal announcement that evening at a general meeting of the Western Slope Conservative Alliance in Grand Junction.
The Palisade vineyard owner had stoked the rumor mill a week earlier by resigning as Chairman of the House District 54 Board, a rather ostentatious prerequisite for running as Representative for House District 54.
In an interview, Price said he was still working on his platform, but sought to make Colorado a “sovereign state” – explaining that he wished to keep the federal government out of the state, and reassert Colorado’s 10th Amendment rights. He also stressed his desire to be a “Citizen Legislator”, and to only seek two terms.
Price insisted that his decision to run for the seat had nothing to do with Rep. Bradford’s recent troubles, saying that he did not know her well, and made no judgment’s regarding the controversy.
Meanwhile, Mesa County’s other State House seat, 55, came to life this past week with the announcement last Monday by Democrat trial lawyer Dan Robinson that he would challenge GOP incumbent Ray Scott this fall. Robinson, a long time Grand Junction Democrat and current Colorado Mesa University trustee, is a former two-term District 51 school board member who ran unsuccessfully for Mesa County Commissioner four years ago, losing to Republican Craig Meis.
Robinson, whose filing with the Secretary of State had, at the time of this writing, yet to appear on the TRACER website (it’s ok, he has 10 days; we’ll be watching), mentioned at his announcement that he “held the same position” as Rep. Scott on oil and gas, and that he would seek to protect oil and gas jobs; a rather odd statement, considering the level of vitriol he aimed at Meis, during his Commissioner run, for having ties to the industry. Likewise, as recently as January 6th, during a meeting of local democrats with CD3 candidate Sal “mugshot” Pace, Robinson downplayed the importance of the energy industry, bemoaning how Mesa County was too “enamored with energy”, and that, in his opinion “energy was not the make or break… not the single most important” driver of jobs in the region, touting instead the agricultural, healthcare, and recreational industries as being the ones which will prove most valuable for job creation. Rep. Scott, suffice to say, holds a somewhat different position vis a vis oil and gas, despite Robinson’s claims.
At any rate, Mesa County, despite its distance from I-25, promises to offer quite the political show this year.
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