West Slope House races draw donors’ attention
The general election is four months away and two Colorado House races on the Western Slope already have the attention of donors in both parties in the state.
That’s because the voter registration numbers in the two districts — House District 59 that extends from Gunnison to Durango, and HD61 that stretches from Delta County to the Summit Valley — indicate they are winnable by both parties.
As a result, the four candidates in the two races already have or soon expect to receive thousands of dollars in campaign donations before the November elections, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office this week.
While most candidates in legislative races are lucky to collect donations in the hundreds of dollars, only those targeted by either party go into the thousands.
That’s happened in both races primarily for two reasons: All House and Senate seats were redrawn last year because of new population figures, and both parties see the two chambers as being up for grabs this election year, political strategists say.
Democrats only need to win one seat to reclaim a majority in the 65-member House, while Republicans hope to pick up three seats to win back the 35-member Senate.
“We absolutely see (HD59) as a winnable seat. It is politically competitive,” said Matt Inzeo, spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party. “I understand why (HD61) is attracting attention, but I don’t think (Rep. Millie Hamner) is going to need serious reinforcements.”
In HD59, Rep. J.Paul Brown, the freshman Republican from Ignacio who holds that seat, has raised more than $30,000 in his first re-election bid.
He’ll need that money to defend his seat against Democrat Michael McLachlan, a Durango attorney. McLachlan has more than $34,000 in the bank.
So far, McLachlan, who served as solicitor general in the Colorado Attorney General’s Office when now Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was attorney general, has received about $1,450 in donations from his party.
He also has gotten a $2,000 infusion from the Colorado Professional Fire Fighters Small Donor Committee.
Brown also has picked up his first major contribution, a $1,500 donation from the La Plata County Republican Party.
Meanwhile in HD61, Hamner, a Frisco Democrat, is similarly defending her seat for the first time.
As a result, she’s already raised more than $28,000, including a $500 donation from the Centennial-based BlueFlower Fund, a small donor committee that helps pro-choice, progressive women get elected to office.
She’s also received similar amounts from the Colorado Democratic Party and the Colorado State Conference of Electrical Workers.
Her Republican challenger, Debra Irvine of Breckenridge, has less than $8,000 in the bank, but that’s partly because she just won a tough primary bid against Gunnison Republican David Justice.
The two also will face off against American Constitution Party candidate Robert Petrowsky of Leadvile, who hasn’t raised any money, and unaffiliated candidate Kathleen Curry, who has collected about $1,500.