Thurlow defends record
DENVER — No doubt about it, Rep. Dan Thurlow is conservative, but by how much depends on who’s talking.
The freshman Republican is learning that where some people perceive a lawmaker’s left-right views depends entirely on where those people stand on the political pendulum.
That’s why some staunch conservatives in the state, and not necessarily voters who live in his Grand Junction House district, are calling for Thurlow’s recall because he doesn’t automatically vote for Republican bills.
As a result, a shadowy group that refuses to identify itself has established an effort on social media calling for Thurlow’s recall.
“Dan Thurlow has betrayed the trust of the people of District 55,” the group says on its Facebook page, Recall Dan Thurlow. “Dan immediately began to pursue a radical left wing ideology, out of touch and arrogant.”
Most of the comments on the page come from gun advocates and center on various efforts to repeal gun-control measures approved by Democrats in recent years. Attempts to contact those who created the Facebook page failed.
Thurlow and several other state lawmakers immediately laugh when asked just how “left wing” he is. “He’s very conservative, there’s no doubt about that,” said Rep. Su Ryden, D-Aurora.
“He’s a career market businessman, that means he’s a conservative,” added Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale. “He brings a business-oriented talent that we need.”
Thurlow started earning attention over several of his votes as a member of the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee, a panel often used by leadership of one party to ensure a bill’s demise from the other.
Democrats, who control the House, have sent all GOP bills that attempt to repeal several of the gun laws they enacted two years ago, along with any other Republican bill dealing with gun issues, to the committee.
While Thurlow has supported repeals of the 15-round gun magazine bill, he has opposed other measures he considers too radical, such as a bill to allow teachers to carry weapons onto school grounds and another that would have made it easier to obtain hand grenades, machine guns and missiles.
Ryden said Thurlow clearly is just trying to do what he thinks is right. “He’s a really thoughtful person,” said Ryden, chairwoman of that committee. “Obviously he comes from a certain point of view, but he strikes me as someone who really does want to get information, study the issues and make good decisions.”
Thurlow said he was elected to the Legislature not to rubber-stamp anyone’s ideas regardless of political persuasion, but to understand the issues and vote in the best interests of his district.
“I actually read the bills, and I will listen at the hearings,” he said. “I was elected by the people to do that for people who can’t be here. That’s my job, read them, listen to the testimony and be knowledgeable about the issue, and then make some kind of reasonable decision that I think represents my district. It won’t make everybody happy all the time, there’s no way that you can.
“But if you look at the totality of my work and you disagree with how I’m voting, you should vote against me next time,” he added. “That’s how the representative process works. I’m happy to be here or not be here based on that premise. My goal isn’t to cast every vote in the light of how it will help me be re-elected. That’s not what I’ve done, nor what I’ll do in the future.”
As a result of his reputation with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, Thurlow is poised to do with his bills exactly what he set out — to reduce government regulation and help create jobs.
To date, no actual effort to recall Thurlow has occurred, but one Denver-based group called Campaign Integrity Watchdog, a conservative group that mostly goes after Democrats, filed a complaint against Thurlow last month, charging him with “multiple violations” of campaign finance laws.
Those complaints, however, only concern Thurlow’s failure to include occupations for three contributions from Grand Junction residents Quintin Shear, Gaylene Thompson and Theresa Hodges, which are required for all individual contributions of more than $100.
The group has filed numerous such complaints over two years, the bulk of which have been dismissed.