Rankin defeats Wilhelm for Colorado House District 57 | PostIndependent.com

Rankin defeats Wilhelm for Colorado House District 57

Incumbent Republican Rep. Bob Rankin defeated Democratic challenger Colin Wilhelm Tuesday in a midterm race to the represent district 57 in the state House of Representatives.

Rankin, who ran unopposed in 2016, received more than 60 percent of the vote for the district, which includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties. Wilhelm received around 45 percent of the Garfield County vote with half the ballots counted. Garfield includes Wilhelm's hometown of Glenwood Springs, as well as Rankin's home near Carbondale.

Both Rankin and Wilhelm were pleased that the campaign remained civil.

"I'm very happy with the way that we both ran our campaigns," Wilhelm told the Post Independent Tuesday after the election results became clear. "We ran a very positive, issues based campaign. As a Democrat, I came across very good for everybody."

"It was almost too civil. We sort of agreed on everything," Rankin said in an interview. The one issue the two disagreed on completely was Proposition 112, which would have required new oil wells to be set 2,500 feet back from the property line.

The measure failed in voting that concluded Tuesday.

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Rankin said the setbacks would have devastated the oil and gas industry in Colorado. Wilhelm saw the measure as a health and safety issue, noting that oil and gas wells are not safe to live near and those who do are at greater risk of health problems and premature death.

Both Rankin and Wilhelm considered education and healthcare to be critical issues for the district, and Wilhelm said he hopes his opponent "recognizes the need for lowering healthcare costs and the need for economic diversity out here."

"I believe that Bob will represent the Western Slope well," Wilhelm added.

"I've worked on those issues for a long time," Rankin said of healthcare and economic issues facing the Western slope. He is looking at recent data on hospital costs, and how insurance costs in this region are 40 percent higher than on the Front Range.

"I hope I can work with the Democrats just as successfully as I could with a split legislature," Rankin said.

With Tuesday's win, Rankin will begin his fourth and final term in the state house, and the seat will be open for the 2020 election. Wilhelm declined to comment on whether he has plans to run then.

tphippen@postindependent.com