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One of those years

Brief by Central Staff

Politics – April 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

In national politics, this is known as a “mid- term election year” because it comes in the middle of the four- year presidential term. In Colorado, it means that statewide offices, like governor and attorney general, will be on the ballot. It also means that most county offices — such as clerk, assessor, sheriff, and treasurer — will be up for election. Generally, one county commissioner seat comes up at mid- term, and the other two commissioners are elected in presidential- election years.

There’s no U.S. Senate race in Colorado this year; federal senators serve six- year terms. We had senatorial elections in 2002 and 2004; so none comes up this year.

Members of the House of Representatives serve two- year terms, and the biggest news there is that Joel Hefley, a Republican who has represented Colorado’s Fifth District for nearly twenty years, has decided not to seek re- election. Chaffee, Lake, Park, Teller and Frémont counties are in the Fifth, which is dominated by El Paso County (Colorado Springs).

We should note, in passing, that El Paso is now the most populous county in Colorado. According to the July 1, 2005, Census Bureau estimate released in March, it has 565,582 residents, putting it 7,665 ahead of Denver and 36,492 over Arapahoe County.

Hefley’s retirement has inspired several campaign announcements from both sides of the aisle. Among them was one from Curtis Imrie of Buena Vista, a Democrat who ran against Hefley in 2002. In the 35 years since it was created, Colorado’s Fifth has never elected a Democrat.

However, Democrats do control both houses of the Colorado General Assembly. There’s one local house seat that Republicans might have a good chance of taking. It is currently held by Gary Lindstrom, a Summit County Democrat. The district comprises Lake, Summit, and Eagle counties. Lindstrom was appointed to the seat to fill out Leadville Democrat Carl Miller’s term after he was named to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, and won election on his own in 2004.

Late last year, he announced he was running for governor in 2006. But Bill Ritter, former Denver DA, seemed to have that pretty well sewn up, so in February, Lindstrom announced he was quitting that race — and that he would not seek re- election to his House seat.

About that time, we got an announcement from Ken Chlouber, a Leadville Republican who is running for that House seat. A former Lake County commissioner, Chlouber was elected a state representative in 1986, and to the state senate for two terms starting in 1996. He was forced out by term limits, but after being out of office, he’s allowed to run for the House.

Thus, we hope, that Chlouber does not denounce “career politicians” during this campaign.