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The O. Zone: Picking primary candidates in an information vacuum, ad squabble

June 24, 2024, 2:12 pm

Colorado Newsline photo

So Tuesday, June 25, is Election Day for party primary voters, and not a whole helluva a lot of you seem to give a rat’s ass – based on the low number of ballots returned statewide so far.

Unaffiliated (or independent) voters (the majority of the electorate both locally and across Colorado) can vote in party primaries, but you have to pick a flavor. If you vote in both the Democratic and Republican primaries, both of your ballots will be tossed out.

So if you’re an unaffiliated Eagle County voter, and I get why you would be, you can either help decide our next county commissioner for mid-valley District 2 (although it’s an at-large vote for everyone in Eagle County) on the Democratic primary ballot, selecting either Tom Boyd or Sarah Smith Hymes to replace Kathy Chandler-Henry, who’s stepping down, or you can help pick the Republican general election candidate for the 3rd Congressional District. But you can’t do both.

The reason the Democratic ticket is so crucial on Tuesday is because there’s no Republican county commissioner candidate for District 2, which is totally mind-blowing to me, so the winner of the Dem contest will be your next Eagle County commissioner. Full disclosure, Tom Boyd is a former founder of RealVail.com but is no longer involved with the site.

It’s also important to remember that it’s way past the date to mail in your ballot in order to have it count, so you have to find a ballot drop box.

The U.S. congressional race is less important for Eagle County because just the southwest corner of the county is still in CD3, with the vast majority of the county in CD2, where Democrat Joe Neguse is a lock. It is, however, a critical race if you care about which party controls Congress in 2025.

Also, there’s less focus on the CD3 race because attention-vacuum Lauren Boebert fled the district after her mere 546-vote victory in 2022 and is now running in CD4.

Boebert, a far right Republican, still ostensibly represents CD3 (most of southern and western Colorado) but chose to jump to an even more conservative district on the state’s Eastern Plains after Ken Buck opted to get out of the dysfunctional shit storm of the House of Representatives.

This Sunday New York Times opinion column represents the kind of national coverage Boebert is still garnering in the flat parts of our state as she continues to say things like: “I need to be careful, but I want to be me. I am radically Lauren Boebert. I don’t know how to slow down. I am basically taking rat poison.” That’s a reference to blood-thinning medicine for blood clots.

I don’t know, I like my politicians a little more, well, hinged, and solely focused on things that matter to everyday residents of the district they represent. That’s why I wrote this legacy opus on Chandler-Henry, who could have run for a third term as an Eagle County commissioner but opted not to because she voted in favor of adding a third term. I looked at just how hard Chandler-Henry has worked on one issue in particular, water, for a story that first ran in Vail Valley Magazine and then was reprinted in the Vail Daily.

It’s hard to know where her potential replacements stand on the issues, other than reading the respective campaign websites for Boyd and Hymes or all of the letters for an against them in the Vail Daily (not a lot of candidate forums or Q&A type coverage of the race). But you can read Real Vail for where they stand on the possible return of freight and/or passenger rail locally (I know, I know, rail is way down the issues list behind housing, water, taxes and more).

By the way, that’s my unpaid community contribution to local journalism because none of my statewide freelance outlets care about a local commissioner race. I can only really get Front Range outlets to pay attention when my name matches that of a state party chief who shatters all norms and flouts his full-on bigotry. Not a great way to gain notice for our neck of the woods.

Nor was the Boebert blight a very good look for us locally. I was actually in her district in EagleVail before the blessed redistricting of 2020, and I nabbed exactly one pre-primary interview with her before she bounced Scott Tipton and never again spoke to the alleged enemies of the people like moi (unless you count Q and MAGA podcasters and radio shows).

I can offer a little more help on the CD3 race if you’re trying to distinguish between the six Republicans seeking Boebert’s seat. Really, only two of them – Grand Junction lawyer and former chamber of commerce chief Jeff Hurd and MAGA former state lawmaker and J6 attendee Ron Hanks – have a realistic shot of moving on to November’s general election race against Democratic former Aspen City Council member Adam Frisch, who lost to Boebert in 2022.

Unlike both Boebert and Hurd, Hanks and Frisch (and other candidates) were very forthcoming when Real Vail reached out late last year on a variety of issues, from Williams’ pending endorsement of Hanks to immigration to public lands to reproductive rights. I was able to sell these stories to Front Range outlets because of the enduring interest in Boebert.

Now there’s the almost comical, if it wasn’t so scary, “controversy” over Frisch and Democrat-leaning PACs spending advertising money in the Republican primary to try to get Hanks the nod over Hurd because the MAGA Hanks is considered less electable. What’s laughable to me is the national Republicans are outraged Dems are targeting their golden boy, preferred mainstreamer Hurd, while it’s the state GOP that has actually endorsed the MAGA bomb thrower Hanks.

Now, depending on who you believe, Hanks is either too conservative for Colorado or too liberal. I’m no fan of wasting Dem money on anything but bolstering the Dem candidate, Frisch, because my take is we all should be doing everything in our power to defeat MAGA candidates because, as we saw on Jan. 6, 2021, they are very bad for our democracy.

Still, I personally have no idea if Hurd is the better candidate than Hanks because, unlike Hanks, Hurd’s campaign will not answer my questions. Your guess is as good as mine, Real Vail readers. Here’s the text of a Frisch campaign ad attacking Hurd on this very topic:

“Jeff Hurd is hiding, ducking Republican debates. He won’t say where he is on abortion. The second amendment or building the wall. Hurd won’t even say who he voted for in 2016 in 2020 or who he supports for president. Now, all we really do know about Jeff Hurd is, he’s financed by out of state corporate money. Lots of corporate money. Maybe that’s why he’s hiding.”

Whichever primary you’ve voting in on Tuesday, it’s hard to argue with that.

Editor’s note: The O. Zone is a recurring opinion column by RealVail.com publisher David O. Williams.

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is the editor and co-founder of RealVail.com and has had his awarding-winning work (see About Us) published in more than 75 newspapers and magazines around the world, including 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), the Anchorage Daily Press (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Casper Star Tribune (Wyoming), the Chicago Tribune, Colorado Central Magazine, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Newsline, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Cortez Journal, the Craig Daily Press, the Curry Coastal Pilot (Oregon), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Del Norte Triplicate (California), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Explore Big Sky (Mont.), the Fort Morgan Times (Colorado), the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), the Kingman Daily Miner (Arizona), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the Las Vegas Sun, the Leadville Herald-Democrat, the London Daily Mirror, the Moab Times Independent (Utah), the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), the Montrose Daily Press, The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, the Rio Blanco Herald Times (Colorado), Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), the Salt Lake Tribune, SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Sky-Hi News, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Sterling Journal Advocate (Colorado), the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Health Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail, Westword (Denver), Writers on the Range and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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