Hislop versus Scott in House District 54

The battle to replace Steve King as the state representative from House District 54 will apparently be decided in the Aug. 10 Republican primary election between Bob Hislop and Ray Scott.

The two Mesa County Republicans won enough delegate votes during Saturday’s House District 54 Assembly to appear on the ballot for the GOP primary, with Hislop easily garnering top-line designation. Hislop received 57 delegate votes and Scott received 34. Each needed a minimum of 30 to make the ballot.

Since there is no Democrat or independent in the race currently, the winner of that primary will most likely be the person chosen in November to replace King, who is running for the state Senate.

A third candidate, David Cox, received only nine votes, not enough to make the primary ballot directly or to petition his way onto the primary election ballot. But, according to some delegates, he made up for some earlier gaffes in the campaign by taking responsibility for his youthful alcohol infractions during his speech to the assembly, and by stating more clearly his views on legalizing marijuana.

Even before Saturday’s convention, the District 54 race had sported intra-party attacks, the likes of which this county hasn’t seen in a legislative race since Shari Bjorklund challenged incumbent Rep. Gayle Berry for the House District 55 GOP nomination in 2002. Berry won that primary election and went on to win re-election to the District 55 seat.

Unlike that race, however, the candidates in the 2010 District 54 race haven’t been taking direct shots at each other. Rather, supporters of Hislop and Scott have been attacking the other candidates in letters to the editor of this newspaper, in calls to the media and in pleas to delegates.

Those supporters have attempted to raise questions about the opposing candidates’ conservative credentials or issues in their personal and business lives.

Hislop made it clear in his speech to the assembly that he plans to “take the high road” in the campaign, and Scott has refrained from personally attacking the others in the race.

That’s fine, but we hope Hislop and Scott can rein in their supporters enough to focus on real issues — such as the state budget, teacher tenure rules or calls by some to have Colorado adopt an Arizona-style immigration law — and leave personal attacks out of the race.

The Daily Sentinel doesn’t normally endorse candidates in primary elections, except on those rare occasions when it is clear the primary vote will decide the election. Since that appears to be the case in House District 54 this year, we plan to interview both Hislop and Scott and let readers know our preference prior to the August primary.


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