GOP to Wright: Address questions

Ruth Ehlers, Chair of the Mesa County Republicans, reads a statement regarding Jared Wright Friday at Two Rivers.



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Ruth Ehlers, Chair of the Mesa County Republicans, reads a statement regarding Jared Wright Friday at Two Rivers.

Local Republican Party leaders called on Jared Wright to address questions about his character Friday, but they stopped short of demanding that he drop out of the race for House District 54.

Those questions were first raised last month when Wright was offered a chance to resign his position as a Fruita police officer or be fired after an internal affairs investigation questioned his honesty.

The 29-year-old’s problems were further compounded on Sunday when The Daily Sentinel revealed details of his bankruptcy filing last year.

Wright had amassed more than $74,000 in debt due to excessive consumer spending, according to Wright’s petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.

Party officials said they could do nothing about whether Wright should remain in the race because he was chosen as the candidate in neighborhood caucuses, was the overwhelming pick at the district’s convention in March and won the primary election in June.

He was the only candidate on the ballot.

“The Mesa County Republican Party, the Delta County Republican Party and the HD54 Central Committee cannot overturn the results (of) these elections,” officials from the three wrote in a statement. “Jared Wright won his elections and won them with wide margins.

“That being said, most of us were unpleasantly surprised when details of Mr. Wright’s work record and personal bankruptcy became public. It is unfortunate the voters did not have this information before the elections took place.”

During the district convention in March, Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey and Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland, along with Delta County resident John Brown, sang Wright’s praises in nominating speeches endorsing him over Palisade peach farmer Rusty Price.

Hilkey said Thursday he wants to talk to Wright before deciding what to advise him to do next.

“I haven’t talked to him since all this came out, and I think it feels like the right thing to do is to visit with Jared,” Hilkey said. “The information (about Wright) certainly is concerning and the situation is concerning, but I have not talked to Jared yet.”

While party officials said there was little they could do about the matter, rank-and-file Republicans were less diplomatic in what they thought Wright should do: Drop out.

After the party’s monthly luncheon on Friday, several said Wright should get out of the race immediately and make way for another candidate to be appointed in his place.

“My troubles are of my own making,” said Linda Deaton of Fruita, repeating a mantra she said everyone should live by. “Jared needs to say those seven little words and be a man.”

Numerous Republicans said Wright is resisting advice that he step aside despite repeated calls from several asking him, and in some cases, demanding he do so.

“He should just get out,” said Republican Gary Bailey, who said he was aware of several, unsuccessful efforts to persuade Wright to resign.

Wright didn’t attend the luncheon and has not returned numerous requests for interviews over the past week.

Instead, the embattled candidate posted a message on his Twitter account, @JaredWright54, on Thursday. It was a video of Johnny Cash singing, “I won’t back down.”

Still, several Republicans who attended the luncheon said they remained hopeful Wright and the party would find a resolution to the situation.

“I don’t know if there is a right way” to handle issues such as Wright’s history, said Cliff Knapp, a party regular. “The party has taken the right tack.”

Carroll Multz, a retired Grand Junction attorney and former GOP county party chairman, said the issue will play itself out.

“I have faith that Jared Wright is going to do the right thing,” Multz said.

Former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, who has been advising Wright, said if he stays in the race and is elected in November, his only redemption would be to be the best possible representative.

But that would be impossible if he can’t meet and talk with constituents, McInnis said.

The party’s executive committee made its first public comment on Wright’s travails at the luncheon. There, party chairwoman Ruth Ehlers read the two-page statement acknowledging that he is the party’s candidate, and the executive board “will not second guess” the voters who made him the nominee for the district.

But Ehlers said Wright has a lot of work to do to win over voters.

“(Wright) needs to reconnect with voters, the Republican Party and your executive board,” she said. “Jared also needs to convey a solid case for his political and legislative vision.”

Democrats have no candidate, but Wright does have an opponent in the race, Libertarian Party member Tim Menger.

Price, who only won seven of the 45 delegates at the March convention, said the ball is in Wright’s court as to his next move.

“It’s a bad situation all the way around, but I can’t comment on whether Jared should quit, keep in or anything else. That’s purely his personal choice,” Price said. “Jared is the elected candidate that is running for the office as a Republican. Now, the party must remain neutral. They can’t require him to resign. That’s why it’s purely Jared’s personal choice.”



COMMENTS

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I know Rusty personally.  I know that he has what it takes to be elected.  If Wright really believes in the Republican party he will step aside and let Rusty Price do the job..

Are GOP voters really that naieve Ruth? It ain’t about work records and bankruptcy….Being poor and in debt and late for work is not a crime….Not being able to tell the truth is the issue!  Obviously Wright hasn’t figured that out according to his Twitter posting.  Used to be our representatives like Bernie Buescher, Tillie Bishop, Scott McGinnis would represent our entire constituency not just one party! My vote will go to Menger.  He has spent ZERO dollars on campaigning and he can tell the truth…..Seems to be a novel idea.

Our political system is broken when we spend a half billion dollars on a presidential election and it starts with people sticking their heads in the sand and supporting people like Jared Wright!

I’m wondering if the GOP provides any guidance to prospective candidates. When I ran for office, I was advised to put together a box that contained all kinds of biographical data—good and bad. If there was something bad in the mix we were advised to discuss how we would respond if questioned by constituents or the press. It doesn’t seem as though Wright ever got that advice. He wouldn’t be in the hot water he is in had he been honest with his constituents about his short comings and his efforts to remedy them.

Speaking strictly as a Democrat, I hope he doesn’t step down. We don’t have a candidate in the race, but I have spoken with Tim Menger on two occasions, and I’m comfortable that I can vote for him because he wants to represent everyone, not just one party. He is extremely conservative when it comes to fiscal matters—in his personal life he only incurred debt to finance his home and saved to pay cash for everything else. Colorado’s budget is already limited by TABOR, but someone with Tim’s attitude might find ways to do more with what little revenue exists after the recession and continuing high unemployment. Tim seems to want to solve problems, not deny women access to birth control. He doestn’ see either the oil and gas industry or environmentalists as his enemy—he sees them as constituents that he needs to listen to. I believe he will listen to everyone and then try to find the compromise that works to solve a problem.

I don’t believe that Wright has the maturity to represent Mesa County. I feel sorry for the mess he is in, but he did make much of it himself. He can also crawl out of the mess by reevaluating his priorities, and working hard to show voters that he learned his lesson about lying. He’s a young man. He can recover. But Mesa County can’t recover from a representative with a chip on his shoulder when he lands in Denver.

I’m voting Libertarian in November, and I hope other Democrats will join me. To be honest, I was never going to vote for Jared Wright. Under normal circumstances I just would have been an undercount in this race. There is nothing normal about a candidate who lies to his boss and his party. I don’t trust Jared Wright. I trust Tim Menger.

Given the Sentinel’s headline “GOP to Wright:  Address questions” (August 18, 2012), a much-anticipated editorial headline should be:  “GOP to Romney:  Release your taxes”!

While Romney claims that it is “small minded” to expect release of his tax returns when we face more pressing issues of “economic stagnation, an impending war with Iran, and high unemployment”, those are even more reasons why Romney should promptly resolve all questions about his character from the campaign – thereby resolving the overarching “big minded” issue of whether Americans can trust him to honestly confront such crises.

The angriest person in either campaign is Ann Romney, who justifies their stonewalling by admitting their returns contain “ammunition” that could be used to “attack” them.  If so, the American electorate is obviously entitled to known what “ammunition” the Romneys are concealing – before voting.

What we already know is that Romney lied to the press and the public in 2002, when he falsely claimed to have filed in-state Massachusetts tax returns, while he was actually in the process of amending them to retroactively claim continuous residency there.

Romney submitted 23 years of tax returns to the McCain campaign in 2008 (thus, not including 2008 and 2009).  While Senator McCain asserts that there was “nothing disqualifying” in those returns, he nevertheless decided that Sarah Palin was more qualified to be (Vice)President than was Romney.

While some tax experts surmise that Romney likely paid no federal income taxes at all for ten years, we now have Romney’s word that he paid at least 13% in income taxes every year!  However, Romney’s 2010 partial return revealed multiple off-shore accounts (suggesting the possibility of felony tax evasion and/or participation in the IRS amnesty program).  Thus, at a minimum, Romney is an accomplished tax evader and proven liar.

Therefore, as Ronal Reagan said:  “Trust, but verify”!

              Bill Hugenberg
              543 Rim Drive
              Grand Junction, CO 81507
Word Count = 300           257-1998

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