Surreal headlines

The front page of today’s Daily Sentinel features a truly surreal pair of headlines.

One reflects state Sen. Steve King’s victory in the Republican primary election over challenger John Pennington, who calls himself a candidate to be a constitutional sheriff, to run for sheriff in November. The other reflects the finding of an internal investigation of King, who worked on a temporary basis for the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. That investigation found that King lost credibility within the department as a result of his handling of timecards. The breach was serious enough that prosecutors will send out letters to the defense bar telling them that King’s credibility is too badly strained for him to testify in court.

The upshot is that Mesa County appears to be on the verge of having a Republican candidate for sheriff whose testimony in court is subject to serious challenge by any defense attorney. To be sure, sheriffs rarely testify, but voters should be no less concerned about the credibility of the sheriff than jurors.

If this scenario seems familiar, it is.

Only two years ago, a former Fruita police officer captured the GOP nomination for the Legislature from Mesa County. Jared Wright faced no serious opposition and won the general election. He is completing his two-year term and opted not to seek re-election when a credible candidate, Yeulin Willett, emerged to challenge him.

It’s one thing, and not a very good one, to have a badly damaged legislator. It’s entirely worse to have a badly damaged sheriff candidate facing little-known opposition going into the general election.

Steve King has previously shown good judgment. His campaign for the state to have its own fleet of firefighting planes was innovative, imaginative and timely. He ought to consider that his legacy and step up a final time by stepping aside and allowing a vacancy committee to select a different GOP candidate for sheriff.

Governor

Republican Bob Beauprez has long felt as though he squandered an opportunity in 2006, losing the governorship to Democrat Bill Ritter. He made the most of his second chance Tuesday, outlasting three other Republicans in a spirited primary election.

Now Beauprez faces another Democrat, John Hickenlooper, the incumbent.

We hope the match-up yields a serious debate about the state’s economy, especially that of the West Slope, which has lagged far behind as the rest of the state has recovered from the recession.

Colorado has much at stake in the choice of its chief executive. Beauprez and Hickenlooper are able exponents of their political approaches while they offer voters significantly different choices. We hope they can at least agree that northwest Colorado’s ability to pursue natural gas in the Piceance Basin must be protected.

We hope as well that both candidates agree that West Slope water interests deserve the state’s support and protection, both from outside demands, such as that of the federal government, and from within, as growing Front Range cities look west for additional water.

 

Legislature

Voters in House District 55 chose Dan Thurlow to represent the GOP in the November election.

Thurlow and Democrat candidate Chris Kennedy will have plenty of opportunity to explain to voters of all stripes in the coming months how they will represent a legislative district whose borders were drawn to match those of the city of Grand Junction, giving it an urban and rural flavor, and a challenge we hope both candidates recognize.

Both candidates have commented on the importance of water to the district and to the West Slope. We will watch as each develops themes on these and other issues.

 

State Board of Education

Marcia Neal, who has represented the 3rd Congressional District on the state Board of Education for five years now, said she opted to seek a second term so as to hold the seat for the majority Republicans on the board.

With Tuesday’s results, she got her wish. Neal will face Henry Roman, a Democrat from Pueblo. Voters can expect a spirited debate on school choice and Common Core. We hope they pay close attention as the debate takes shape.


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