The race for Senate District 7 could be heating up.
Republican Sen. Ray Scott, who currently holds that seat, may have a Democratic opponent this fall, but that depends on whether Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction, decides to challenge Scott for the position.
That Democratic opponent could be Grand Junction City Councilor Chris Kennedy, who has already filed a campaign account with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office seeking the office but hasn't decided whether he'll actually challenge Scott.
"I don't know if I'm actually going to commit yet. I'm just hedging my bet at this point," Kennedy said Thursday. "There's just so much going on between Thurlow and Scott, and I'm just kind of sitting back waiting for a public declaration."
That declaration may be coming soon.
While Thurlow declined to comment on his future political intentions, he did say he was planning to make an "important" announcement within weeks.
Thurlow's decision also may be impacted by Mesa County Treasurer Janice Rich's announcement last week that she plans to seek Thurlow's seat, a move that surprised the two-term representative.
Rich declined to speak directly about challenging Thurlow. She plans to formally announce her entry in the race for the Colorado House at the Mesa County Republicans' Luncheon at noon today at the DoubleTree Hotel, 743 Horizon Drive.
Scott could not be reached for comment Thursday.
In his latest campaign finance report filed earlier this week, Scott reported raising $3,800 in the fourth quarter of 2017, leaving him more than $8,000 in cash on hand. All of those contributions came from outside Mesa County, with the bulk coming from lobbying groups and the oil and gas industry.
In the past three months, Scott has spent about $2,000, mostly in lodging and meals at various cities between Grand Junction and the Denver area.
Thurlow's latest campaign filing shows he raised about $4,000 in the last quarter of 2017, leaving him with about $17,600 in cash on hand. Like Scott, most of his recent contributions were from people outside the county, including some powerful GOP campaign fundraising and political management firms on the Front Range. He's spent no money in the past three months.
Kennedy said his decision to run will depend on whether Scott wins the nomination for the seat and the right to run for a second term in the Colorado Senate. The answer to that question will begin to be answered by the end of March, when the Mesa County Republican Party holds its county assembly.
If both Scott and Thurlow win enough delegates at that assembly to get on the June primary ballot, Scott likely will see a Democratic opponent in Kennedy, but Thurlow may not.
Kennedy said there's a big difference between running against a far-right Republican such as Scott and a more moderate conservative such as Thurlow.
"I need to see how all this plays out on the other side," Kennedy said. "A lot of it will depend on what happens with Dan. If he's going as an independent, and I'd be surprised if he did, then I wouldn't even consider it. The whole thing is to put somebody up there who can at least challenge Ray."
A year before getting elected to the Grand Junction City Council in 2015, Kennedy ran for House District 55 against Thurlow, who won his first term in the House, garnering 67 percent of the vote.
Last year, Kennedy briefly ran for the Democratic Party's nomination for the 3rd Congressional District and the right to challenge U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Cortez Republican. Kennedy dropped out of that race early last month because he wanted to care for his 81-year-old mother, Jeanne Kennedy, who at the time just had a stroke after going through triple-bypass heart surgery.
Kennedy spent his mother's final weeks as her primary caregiver while she was in hospice care until she died on Christmas morning.