Republican Irvine trying again in House District 61
DENVER — Breckenridge Republican Debra Irvine entered the race Wednesday for the Colorado House seat that includes half of Delta County.
Irvine lost such a bid to the district’s current legislator, Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillion, in 2012, but that was in a three-way race. Former Rep. Kathleen Curry, a Gunnison Democrat who turned unaffiliated, also was in the race.
Barring any major third-party challenger getting in again this year, it may just come down to the two of them.
“We have seen a great deal of financial influence coming to Colorado,” Irvine said in a release announcing her candidacy. “Amendment 66 and recent gun control bills saw millions of dollars of support from outside our state. If we want to see fairness come back to the citizens of House District 61 and Colorado, we have to work together to stop this trend.”
Much out-of-state money from left-leaning groups and individuals did come into Colorado to support last year’s failed ballot measure to raise income taxes to fund public schools, but a lot of campaign contributions also came from right-leaning supporters in opposition to the controversial new gun laws and the subsequent recalls of two state senators.
Irvine has questioned Hamner’s support of the Amendment 66 education tax measure.
“Shortly before this past election, Hamner sent out an email with reasons to vote for Amendment 66 ... that would ‘Keep Colorado’s taxes among the lowest in the nation,’” Irvine said in a guest editorial in November in the Summit Daily News. “Logically this isn’t possible. Raising an additional $1 billion in taxes every year would put Colorado among the top five with the highest taxes.”
In 2012, Hamner won the district with less than half — 45 percent — of the vote. Irvine garnered 32 percent, while Curry won 13 percent. The district includes all of Lake, Pitkin and Summit counties, the northern half of Gunnison County and the eastern half of Delta County.
While nearly 56 percent of Delta County voters backed Irvine in that race, nearly twice as many Democrats in the more populous Pitkin County backed Hamner over the GOP contender.
While much of the district includes other Democratic-friendly counties, overall the voter registration split between Democrats and Republicans is 30 percent to 28 percent, respectively, according to Jan. 31 voter registration numbers, the latest maintained by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.
Unaffiliated voters, however, make up the bulk of the district with 41 percent.