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Our spin on the 1998 election

Brief by Central Staff

Local Politics – December 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

Our turn to spin about the ’98 election

The only candidate we meant to endorse in the last edition, but didn’t get around to writing up, was Carl Miller. He’s a conservative Democrat and state representative for District 61, which had new boundaries this time that comprised part of the San Luis Valley.

Carl, who works hard on behalf of his rural constituents in a suburban-dominated legislature, did just fine without us, we’re happy to say.

He got 12,712 votes, putting him well ahead of the 8,641 for Republican Marshall Boyd and 1,581 for Libertarian Michael Simpson, whose 6.9% was the best showing by any Colorado Libertarian in a three-way race.

This was the first general election conducted under a new state law that simplifies matters for the smaller parties, like the Libertarians and Greens. They used to have to petition their way onto the ballot, and now they can merely nominate candidates, the way that the big parties do. It’s a welcome development that should expand our political discourse.

Anyway, congratulations to Carl. We don’t always agree with him, but we always know where he’s coming from, and he has always been willing to explain why he’s taken a given position. Besides, nobody has done more than Carl Miller to keep our railroad tracks from being ripped out.

But even those virtues aren’t enough for a Democrat to win in Park County, which is increasingly a suburban commuter zone rather than a rural venue. There the Republican got 2,360 votes to Carl’s 2,053 and the Libertarian 234. The GOP candidate also carried Hinsdale, 200-172-24, and his home county, Rio Grande, 1,112-1,086-64.

The Libertarian fared best in his home county, Gunnison, where he got 16.9% of the vote.

Carl easily carried our home county, Chaffee, 2,598-1,909-147, and his home county, Lake, with an 1,881-354-65 tally and 81.8% of the highest ballots in America.

Miller’s margin in and around Leadville, while of landslide dimensions, wasn’t as immense as the defeat of Amendments 15 and 16 — the Stockman’s Water Co. initiatives — in the San Luis Valley.

In Alamosa County, for instance, Amendment 16 got 90 yes votes, and 4,914 no votes: 98.2% of the vote was against it.

The percentages were similar, though not quite so high, elsewhere in the Valley and Central Colorado. Statewide, the two initiatives went down by a 3-1 margin, and did not pass in a single county.

Gunnison County voters agreed to raise their taxes to fight off Front Range water raids, while Lake County voters, for the third consecutive election, decided against raising property taxes for the school district.

As for the other races, we suffered a few disappointments, but experienced few surprises. Democrat Reed Kelley, running for Congress against Scott McInnis, got only 31.6% of the vote and prevailed in just three counties, all Democratic strongholds: Costilla, Pitkin, and San Miguel.

Pitkin (Aspen) and San Miguel (Telluride) are among the richest counties in the country, while Costilla (San Luis) is one of the poorest. Go figure.

We had hoped that George Whitten, Jr., running as an independent for a seat on the Saguache County Commission, would do better — he came in third, with 541 votes to Republican Joseph W. Alexander’s 881 and Democrat Beverly L. Quintana’s 799.

You’ve had everybody else’s spin on the 1998 election by now, and now you’ve endured ours.

As for the national level, who’d have ever believed, just a month or two ago, that Bill Clinton would outlast Newt Gingrich?