Democrat to run for legislative seat now held by Wright

A Democrat has entered the race for House District 54.

East Orchard Mesa winemaker Brad Webb has tossed his hat into the ring to challenge the winner of a GOP primary between the incumbent, Rep. Jared Wright, R-Fruita, and Palisade businessman J.J. Fletcher in next year’s elections.

Webb, formerly a Denver banker, owns and operates Mesa Park Vineyards with his wife, Brooke, and in-laws, Chuck and Patty Price, a business the four purchased in 2009.

While that new career has kept them busy, Webb said he decided it was time to run after watching his fellow Democrats in the statehouse this year.

He wasn’t pleased, particularly when the Democrats passed a bill to limit to 15 how many rounds gun magazines can hold.

“I was a little disappointed in the Democrats that day. I should say a lot disappointed,” he said. “They ramrodded the bill through. It was written almost unconstitutionally, and I couldn’t believe that it passed. If I had been (an elected legislator), I think I could have made that bill not go through.”

Later during this year’s session, he saw the Legislature approve a bill to require rural electric associations to double their 10 percent requirement to generate power from renewable sources, another measure he disagrees with.

While there are other examples, such as not opposing hydraulic fracturing in natural gas development, those two laws convinced him that his own party doesn’t understand rural ways.

“Where I come from, it’s very rural, very energy driven, very ag driven, and every single legislator is a Democrat,” he said. “We need to make the folks on the Front Range understand what it takes to get the agricultural products and water — and we produce the energy over here that they’re using — they need to understand where that comes from and what it takes to get it.”

Born in Harrisburg, Ill., Webb spent a decade in Denver working for JP Morgan Chase. He has a bachelor’s degree in business from Southern Illinois University.

When he and his family decided to purchase the vineyard, Webb ran a local branch of Vectra Bank for about a year before working at the winery full time.

Wright and Fletcher said they both welcomed having him in the race, saying that’s what’s supposed to happen in the nation’s political process.

“It takes a lot of courage to step up to the plate and I wish him the best,” Fletcher said.

“I welcome the challenge and am thankful we live in a society where citizens have a choice who they want to represent them,” Wright added.

“Unfortunately, the political party Mr. Webb identifies himself with has proven itself to be the party of taking away our freedoms and constitutional rights. Conservative or not, Mr. Webb, if elected, would only add to a liberal majority in Colorado in control of every level of our government.”



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