Bjorklund’s bid surprises GOP

Cutouts of former President Ronald Reagan and Sarah Palin are part of the patriotic decorations Saturday at the Mesa County Republican Assembly at Palisade High School. Two men are vying for the opportunity to challenge U.S. Rep. John Salazar for the 3rd Congressional District.



Mesa County Republicans’ candidates for this fall’s races are:

• Senate District 7: Steve King.

• House District 55: Laura Bradford.

• County Commission, District 2: Steve Acquafresca.

• Treasurer: Janice Rich.

• Sheriff: Stan Hilkey.

• Clerk and recorder: Sheila Reiner.

• Assessor: Barbara Brewer.

Note: The assembly for the House District 54 candidates — David Cox, Bob Hislop and Ray Scott — will be May 8 at the Grand Junction City Hall.

The Mesa County Republican Party was treated to a decent turnout and a surprise candidate Saturday for its county assembly.

Although all of the races for county offices were uncontested, one came close to not being so.

That happened just after party delegates heard the nomination for county treasurer. As expected, Janice Rich’s name was called.

The 374 delegates had pretty much expected the county clerk and recorder’s bid to the post to go unchallenged, as it had moments earlier for Steve Acquafresca for county commission, Stan Hilkey for sheriff and Barbara Brewer for assessor.

But when party chairman Charles Pabst asked if there were any other nominations, one man marched to the microphone from the back of the expansive Palisade High School auditorium.

“I am Tom Bjorklund, and I am the most experienced candidate in the field of finance and administration,” the Grand Junction businessman announced.

The race was on.

Rich already had addressed the crowd, saying her time was term-limited, but her desire to serve was not.

Bjorklund knew party bylaws would require that he get at least 30 percent of the delegates to make the primary ballot.

He got 29 percent.

The husband of Shari Bjorklund, who ran for and lost House District 55 in 2004 to Democrat Bernie Buescher, received 109 votes to Rich’s 265. He needed 113 to make the ballot.

Because Bjorklund received more than 10 percent of the vote, he can petition onto the ballot. He told Pabst and others, however, he won’t.

“You certainly could have heard a pin drop when he came forward,” Rich said afterwards. “But that’s the process. That’s why we do this, and I certainly respect his decision to come forward.”

Unlike last weekend’s county assembly for the Democrats, Saturday’s GOP event didn’t attract big-name candidates for state races, such as gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis. It did, however, hear from candidates in the race for the 3rd Congressional District.

Like his Steamboat Springs challenger, Bob McConnell, state Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, said U.S. Rep. John Salazar’s days in Congress are numbered.

“Here’s the problem, and I think we all recognize it. Washington is broken,” Tipton told a cheering crowd.

“I will reach out to Democrats and the independents to take this fight to John Salazar,” added McConnell, a retired Army officer.

“I will challenge Salazar that he’s the best to stand up for the vets. He’s run down the 70,000 vets in Colorado, and I will mobilize them to take this fight to John Salazar.”


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