A big red election-year bulls’ eye

I have been told by Democrats, Republicans, and lobbyists that I have a big red bull’s eye on my back. The race for the 59th House District seat of Colorado will be one of the most targeted races by the Colorado Democrat Party. Republicans hold a one-member majority in the House of Representatives and I am that one member.

Something happened this week that will illustrate to everyone how dirty this race will be. After my county commissioner bill, HB 12-1159, passed out of the House with almost unanimous bitpartisan support, Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, the bill’s Senate sponsor, mysteriously withdrew her support. I asked Sen. Nicholson to be the Senate sponsor because she has been a county commissioner and I knew that she would understand the issue. She immediately and enthusiastically accepted the sponsorship of the bill and without my prompting and on the spur of the moment gave the many reasons that it would be a good law. I couldn’t have been more happy and excited.

That excitement came to an end this week when Sen. Nicholson abruptly withdrew her sponsorship after the bill passed through the House with her name on it. This is something that almost never happens. I have been warned that the Democrats will not let me pass a bill in an election year that will make me look good. My guess is that Senate President Brandon Shaffer, or someone else in the Democrat hierarchy, told Sen. Nicholson to drop the bill.

Her excuse was that she did not know that the bill would give one party (Republicans) an advantage in county commissioner races. She did not mention that concern when she first signed on to the bill. Some Republicans question the bill from the opposite perspective. An example of this is that one of the four representatives who voted against the bill was a Republican who fears that Democrats might have a chance for inroads in his area of the state. House Bill 1159 cuts both ways and is truly a bipartisan, permissive bill that will allow counties with fewer than under 70,000 people to elect county commissioners by district if they so choose.

After a couple of days, I went to Sen. Nicholson and practically begged her to stay on the bill with me, but she flatly refused. Thankfully, our own senator, Ellen Roberts, has come to the rescue and will sponsor HB 1159 in the Senate. Sen. Roberts surmises that the bill will be assigned to the Local Government Committee in the Senate where it will meet its death. However, Sen. Roberts and I refuse to give up. If folks want to support the bill, they should e-mail the above referenced committee. You can get names and e-mail addresses by going to www.leg.state.co.us.

The race for the 59th House District seat is truly shaping up to be one characterized like David and Goliath. The Democrats are going to put record amounts of money into this contest. The tone of my opponents is already negative and Democrats under the Gold Dome will do everything they can to make me look bad. They know that it is not my way to be negative. When the final count is made, God will decide. “The Lord is my shepherd.”

J. Paul Brown represents House District 59 in Colorado’s General Assembly. The district encompasses San Juan, Archuleta and La Plata counties and parts of Montezuma County. Contact Rep. Brown at (303) 866-2914 or by e-mail at jpaul.brown.house@state.co.us.

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