Republicans to square off over Senate District 8
Drawn out of his current state House District 57, Rep. Randy Baumgardner says he will run for the GOP 2012 nomination in the newly redrawn Senate District 8, challenging incumbent Republican state Sen. Jean White.
White, of Hayden, was appointed last January to fill the seat vacated by her husband, Al White, after he was named by Gov. John Hickenlooper to head the state’s tourism office.
Baumgardner, a rural Jackson County resident, was drawn out of HD 57 with the recently approved legislative reapportionment plan.
Both White and Baumgardner announced their intentions to seek the District 8 Senate seat on Wednesday. If both candidates emerge from the Republican Party nominating process in the spring with enough support, they could square off in a primary election in August.
“I had several people in the district come to me, wondering if I would consider running,” Baumgardner said. “There have also been some other people talking about running, but I don’t know if they will step up now that I’ve decided to run.”
Baumgardner will continue to serve HD 57 during the upcoming 2012 legislative session. He said he took into account the new House and Senate redistricting, which takes effect with the November 2012 election, in his decision to challenge White.
Under the new House district boundaries, Jackson County and Baumgardner’s former home in Grand County were placed in the heavily Democratic HD 13 along with Boulder County.
Through the 2012 legislative session and for the past decade, Jackson and Grand counties were part of HD 57, along with Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco counties and the western part of Garfield County.
Senate District 8, meanwhile, now includes all of Garfield County, along with Rio Blanco, Moffat, Routt, Grand, Jackson and Summit counties.
White said she was disappointed in Baumgardner’s decision, after having spoken to him and receiving assurances that he would not challenge her for the Republican nomination in District 8.
“That’s fine, I’m up for the challenge,” White said Wednesday. “I intend to continue to do a good job representing northwest Colorado on the issues, including a need for less government and fewer regulations, and doing what we can to encourage businesses to create more jobs.”
White said she has worked tirelessly since her appointment traveling throughout the district, meeting constituents, visiting colleges, nursing homes, hospitals, coal mines, power plants, and airports.
Having been a small business owner in several tourist-related businesses with her husband, White said she understands how small business can be unfairly burdened by government regulations.
She said she also intends to focus on the economic benefits of oil, gas and coal production, as well as quality education and the need for access to affordable broadband Internet service in the region.
Baumgardner said he believes he can best serve the region on issues such as water usage, farming and ranching, and mineral extraction.
While working to increase his awareness of tourism issues, Baumgardner said attention also needs to be paid to the expanding and economically vital agri-tourism industry.
According to the 2011 Colorado Reapportionment Commission, Senate District 8 has a population of 144,590 residents. Registered Republicans make up approximately 38 percent of the district, while unaffiliated voters account for 35 percent and Democrats make up roughly 26 percent of the district’s electorate.
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