Republican takes aim at Wright

Freshman Rep. Jared Wright will face a Republican primary challenger during his first re-election bid next year.

Palisade resident J.J. Fletcher told The Daily Sentinel that he intends to unseat the incumbent, in part because he’s still upset with the Fruita Republican.

After Wright won the GOP nomination last year for House District 54, which includes all of Mesa County outside of Grand Junction and the western half of Delta County, he came under fire for losing his job as a Fruita police officer under questionable circumstances and for filing for bankruptcy in 2011.

When those issues came to light, Fletcher was one of numerous Republicans who called for Wright to resign his nomination to allow the HD54 GOP Central Committee to pick a replacement.
Fletcher intended to vie for that appointment.

“There’s not that level of trust,” Fletcher, 53, said of Wright. “In the long run, iron sharpens iron. That means it puts you on guard that you need to do the right thing.”

Wright, who hasn’t officially announced his re-election plans but expects to do so soon, said he’s a bit surprised that another Republican would challenge him.

The lawmaker said the bills he introduced and the votes he cast during this year’s legislative session prove he is very much the Republican he said he was during last year’s campaign, when he only faced a Libertarian candidate who raised no money.

“I think I’ve proven myself,” Wright said. “My voting record and being at the forefront of the gun debates proves that I am the conservative that I said I was. And my sense in talking to my constituents is that they are pleased with what they’ve seen.”

Still, Fletcher said Wright showed little integrity when news broke last summer that he was forced to leave the Fruita Police Department over questions of honesty. Fletcher also said Wright’s $74,000 bankruptcy filing — which included buying such things as jewelry, antique cars and tanning salon memberships — showed he wasn’t the fiscal conservative he made himself out to be when he won the GOP nomination.

Fletcher further said Wright’s “accomplishments” in the Legislature did little for his constituents.

Wright was a main sponsor of six measures during this year’s session, only two of which passed. One was a special “Save Our Rivers” license plate, and the other was a requirement that the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice study the impact state human trafficking laws have had since they were passed in 2007.

The first bill the representative introduced into the Legislature when it met earlier this year was a ban on all Colorado law enforcement from working with federal authorities when they are enforcing provisions of the National Defense Reauthorization Act of 2012.

Other bills he introduced, each killed by the Democrat-controlled House, were measures to eliminate business personal property taxes on property that business owners purchase in 2014, a mandate that the heads of all state agencies disclose gifts and honoraria they receive just as lawmakers are required to do, and a statute-cleanup bill governing the deadline for when appeals must be filed in court decisions and administrative proceedings.

Fletcher doesn’t expect to do a lot of campaigning for at least the next two months. That’s because he’s still recovering from a industrial accident that resulted in his spleen having to be removed.

Fletcher says his politics are typical of a fiscally conservative Republican.

As owner of Jay-Max Sales, a mining and drilling parts supply company, Fletcher said he is a strong supporter of oil, gas and coal, but also wants to push other job-creating topics, such as small businesses and agritourism.


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