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Chlouber may be running for congress

Brief by Central Staff

Politics – March 2002 – Colorado Central Magazine

Ken Chlouber of Leadville, a Republican and the state senator for much of Central Colorado, may be gearing up for a run for Congress.

That’s hardly a surprise, since Chlouber has been climbing the political ladder for nearly 20 years, from Lake County commissioner to state representative to state senator.

But if he does run for the U.S. House of Representatives this fall, he won’t be running from Leadville — he’ll become a metro resident and campaign against incumbent Democrat Diana DeGette in Colorado’s First Congressional District.

Chlouber’s wife, Pat, was elected to the state board of education a couple of years ago. More recently, she was appointed to a regional post with the U.S. Department of Education, which meant she had to be at an office in Denver, rather than just attend occasional meetings in Denver. And so they bought a townhouse in the city.

In the mountains, Ken’s congressional ambitions have been stymied because there are Republicans in office. Lake County (along with Chaffee and Park) was in the Third Congressional District, represented by Grand Junction Republican Scott McInnis.

With the redistricting after the 2000 census, Lake and Chaffee and Park were moved to the Fifth District, starting with the 2002 election. The Fifth is represented by Joel Hefley, a Colorado Springs Republican.

Despite McInnis’s pledge in 1992 that he would serve only three terms, he’s shown no inclination to quit running for Congress, and Hefley likewise seems intent on keeping his job.

But now that he’s got an address in the First District, where there’s an incumbent Democrat to run against, Chlouber is starting to sound like a congressional candidate. He’s been speaking to Republican groups in Denver, and he’s enlisted two GOP warhorses — lobbyists and former state legislators Steve Durham and Cliff Dodge — to help in his campaign.

If he can raise some enthusiasm and money, Chlouber said, “we’ll come out of the chute a-flying,” but “if not, we’ll probably go back to the mountains and tend to my donkeys.”

He faces a tough battle there — Denver hasn’t sent a Republican to Congress since 1970.

And then there’s a question of residency. If Chlouber becomes an official metro resident in order to run for that congressional seat, wouldn’t that mean that he’s no longer a Leadville resident, and thus no longer eligible to serve as a state senator from his mountain district?