Write-in candidate underlines dismay with GOP hierarchy
Woody Walcher is lambasting the Republican hierarchy and its elected officials in his bid to win GOP votes for his write-in bid for a seat on the Mesa County Commission.
Walcher, who fell nine votes short of winning a spot outright on the June 26 primary ballot in the party’s convention in March, opted to wage a write-in campaign against Rose Pugliese in the contest for the Republican nomination for the District 3 seat on the three-member board.
One of Walcher’s targets is Janet Rowland, the term-limited District 3 commissioner and a Pugliese ally. Pugliese would succeed Rowland should she win the primary and general elections.
Walcher also has lobbed criticisms at the GOP county leadership, suggesting that “party bosses” were — and still are — aligned behind Pugliese.
“I’m a Republican and they treat me like I’m a Communist,” Walcher said Friday.
His campaign also has drawn Shari Bjorklund, the party’s nominee for House District 55 in 2004, back into politics with a radio-ad endorsement of Walcher.
Tom Bjorklund, Shari Bjorklund’s husband, also is running Walcher’s campaign.
Shari Bjorklund is a conservative, just as he is, Walcher said.
Pugliese also says she is a conservative and declined to comment on Walcher’s campaign, saying only, “My campaign is focused and I am working hard on earning the votes of people of Mesa County.”
The irony of campaigning against Republicans to win the votes of GOP voters isn’t lost on him, Walcher said.
But he says he also has been mischaracterized. He indeed is a candidate, even if it’s as a write-in, Walcher said.
“The whole party is against me,” he said.
He has garnered the ire of Rowland, in one instance for referring to Pugliese as a Rowland “crony” in a mailing to Republicans in which he accused Rowland of “conspiring to manipulate the process so that her hand-picked candidate and successor Rose Pugliese will be the next county commissioner in District 3.”
In another instance, in a letter to voters entitled “A smoking gun!” Walcher cited an email sent to Pugliese and others on a county email account in which Rowland encouraged Pugliese and said she would make a great commissioner in 2012.
“And was I strategizing for her 2012 Commissioner campaign using county email?” Rowland wrote. “Anyone who can read at a third grade level, would read that email and know that is preposterous.”
Walcher, moreover, misused county resources by sending Rowland campaign materials on her county email account, she said.
“This is campaign literature from his committee ‘Responsible Citizens for Walcher,’ ” Rowland said in an email. “Methinks he doth protest too much.”
Ruth Ehlers, chairwoman of the Mesa County Republican Party, said she “wouldn’t dignify what (Walcher) is doing with a comment.”
Walcher insisted he is making progress.
The poll he cites in his campaign advertising as putting him within two points of Pugliese included 8,000 phone calls and 500 responses, he said.
“We were pulling dead even and that was before the mailing and most of the advertising,” he said.
Pugliese said she has done no polling in the primary campaign.