Senate District 5 candidates plan vigorous campaign

It’s going to take a lot more than buying a lot of media advertising time to get their messages to voters in the race for the expansive Senate District 5, the two candidates in that race say.

It’s going to take a lot of leg work and door knocking, said Democrat Kerry Donovan and Republican Don Suppes, the Democratic and Republican candidates for the district, which includes Delta County.

Still, that isn’t stopping the two from trying to amass as big a war chest as they can, because the seat, which is being vacated by Snowmass Village Democratic Sen. Gail Schwartz because of term limits, is considered a “tier one” seat targeted by both parties.

“We’re going to spend our dollars making direct outreach to voters,” Donovan said. “It’s nothing revolutionary. We’ll try to get mail to the people that we can’t talk to. The doors that we can get to, we’ll knock on those. It’s really a matter of getting out to the different areas as much as we can and being seen by the folks.”

As things stand now, Donovan is far outraising Suppes when it comes to campaign donations, raising nearly $60,000 compared to Suppes’ $32,000 war chest.

But that doesn’t bother the Orchard City mayor, who said the race won’t be won with money, but with old-fashioned legwork.

“I’m getting more of the $10 to $20 contributors that live in the district,” Suppes said. “To me, those are worth a lot more than a $1,000 contribution or a $4,000 contribution, as in the case of my opponent, from the unions.

“This is more boots on the ground, getting out, shaking hands, meeting people,” he said. “That’s the difference in this type of district. You’ve got too many different TV stations. Radio, you can’t just reach out with one or two spots on the dial. It’s a matter of getting out, meeting as many people as you can and convincing them you’re the right person for the job.”

How the two are campaigning for the seat is important not just for the two candidates, but their respective parties. Both have targeted the district as one of five crucial seats in the 2014 election.

Democrats hold a one-vote majority. They held a 20-15 edge until last year when two Democratic legislators — Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo — were recalled because of two controversial gun laws the Legislature approved in 2013.

As a result, Republicans have targeted five seats, including the two they won last year, as possible pickups. If they win them all, the party could get a 20-15 majority in the 35 member Senate.

While Suppes said those gun laws are a major issue when he speaks with voters, Donovan said it’s more about water and education.

The district stretches from Eagle to Hinsdale counties, and from Delta County to Lake and Chaffee counties, encompassing Pitkin and Gunnison counties in between.


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