Republican sentiment sinks Buescher amid Bradford win.
A surge in Republican turnout combined with state Rep. Bernie Buescher’s ties to Gov. Bill Ritter’s policies helped Republicans unseat the incumbent lawmaker, local political observers said Wednesday.
“This is the classic political equivalent of dancing with the one that brung you,” said John Redifer, a political science professor at Mesa State College. “(Buescher) didn’t pay enough attention to the political attitudes of the citizens in his district.”
Redifer cited Buescher’s support of Ritter’s unpopular mill levy freeze, which prevents school district property taxes from falling as property valuation increases.
Alan Farina, who headed the Mesa County Republican Party’s candidate search committee for House District 55, said the heavy pro-McCain turnout likely helped Laura Bradford win.
“That certainly cut in her favor,” he said.
Mesa County Republicans turned out in droves to vote for presidential candidate John McCain, topping Democratic turnout by more than 20,000 voters.
Farina said Buescher’s policy positions and Bradford’s hard work were more important in helping her win.
House Assistant Minority Leader David Balmer, R-Centennial, said throughout the campaign he was impressed with Bradford’s work, going door-to-door, to grow a grass-roots movement.
“I think that she deserves the credit for running a great ground campaign and just getting out there and believing in herself and continuing to campaign when a lot of people told her she couldn’t beat Bernie Buescher,” Balmer said. “She won it on the ground.”
Bradford said as she walked the neighborhoods of House District 55, residents told her Buescher’s closeness to Ritter was his greatest shortcoming.
“Had Bernie’s voting record not lined up quite so much with the governor, I would have had a harder time beating him,” she said.
Buescher, however, said he was proud of his voting record, even of the votes that proved unpopular in Mesa County, including the mill levy freeze.
“I wouldn’t have changed any of my votes,” he said.