ELN: Bradford bumps Buescher out of statehouse seat?

Bearnie Buescher walks into the courthouse annex and looks with shock at the results of his race as supporter Kathy Story watches him.

Laura Bradford is pleasantly surprised as she watches returns showing her neck-in-neck with Colorado Rep. Bernie Buescher.

Collbran Republican Laura Bradford inched toward upsetting incumbent state Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, in one of the more closely watched legislative races this year, running ahead by 572 votes out of more than 34,000 counted as of 12:33 a.m. today.

Bradford said she was pleasantly surprised by how her margin of victory emerged after early election results showed Buescher slightly ahead.

“It’s going the right direction,” she said as she watched the results trickle in.

Buescher, however, was more conservative in his estimation, saying it could be days before he and the voters of House District 55 know who will represent them for the next two years.

“I think it’s likely we’ll have a recount,” Buescher said.

He added the results were closer than he expected and “closer than I hoped for.”

State law requires a recount in races where a candidate’s margin of victory is within 0.5 percent.

However, as of late Tuesday night, Bradford had a lead of 1.6 percentage points.

Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Janice Rich said her office will continue counting results this morning starting around 8 a.m.

Should Bradford’s margins hold up, she will join Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, and Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, as the third conservative representing Mesa County in Denver.

That would mark the first time since 2003 that Mesa County would have three Republican state lawmakers.

Buescher’s possible loss also could dash the hopes of Western Slope residents who had hoped the lawmaker would succeed outgoing Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver.

The last time Grand Junction was home to a speaker of the House was 1980 when Rep. Robert F. Burford held the post.

The last time the Western Slope was home to a speaker of the House was when Rep. Russ George, R-Rifle, held the post in 2000.


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