Candidates stump for votes

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Al White, R-Winter Park, paid his dues and became a member of the Republican Women's Auxiliary on Friday.

White and three other GOP candidates spoke at the Republican Women's luncheon Thursday. White, who has no opposition in his bid for re-election in the 57th District, used the luncheon to update residents on his views of the past legislative session.

But Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, Rep. Gregg Rippy, R-Glenwood Springs, and Greg Walcher, former state Department of Natural Resources director, all of whom have opposition in their races, used the luncheon to stump for votes.

Rippy and Walcher are seeking the Republican nomination for the 3rd Congressional District and are hoping to replace Rep. Scott McInnis in the U.S. House of Representatives. Taylor is being challenged by Jay Fetcher, a rancher from Clark, as he seeks re-election to the state Senate.

Rippy told the 17 people in attendance at the luncheon that he thought the country was on the right track, experiencing an upswing in

jobs and income. He said he would like to see the NATO join the rebuilding effort in Iraq.

Walcher spent much of his speech criticizing Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, who dominated the Democratic State Assembly for the 3rd Congressional District.

"The Democrats think they've got the dream team in the Salazar brothers, (Attorney General Ken Salazar is running for Senate) but we've got to do everything we can to make sure we keep a Republican in office," Walcher said.

Walcher won top-line placement on the Aug. 10 primary ballot at last weekend's Republican State Convention. Rep. Matt Smith, R-Grand Junction, also got on the ballot. Rippy has decided to petition onto the ballot.

Many Moffat County delegates said they didn't vote for Walcher because he supported Referendum A. After the luncheon, Walcher defended his support of the referendum, saying he didn't write it and was only a member of the gubernatorial administration that supported it.

He said his record shows that he supports Western Slope water rights. Locally, he said he has been a part of the Elkhead Reservoir expansion.

White and Taylor regularly support one another when they speak at the same occasions, and Taylor told those at the luncheon that White is "the odds-on favorite to be the next majority leader" in the state House. Two years later, White has a good shot at becoming speaker of the House, Taylor said.

Taylor urged voters to support his re-election bid, saying his experience in the Colorado Assembly has given him the ability to cross party lines to garner support or kill bills.

During the last session, Taylor opposed a bill that would have phased out business property tax, a revenue source Moffat County depends on. Taylor said he got the support that forced the bill into an interim study.

Reviewing the last legislative session, White said he was disappointed the General Assembly did not find a solution to reconcile the Taxpayers Bills of Rights, which ratchets down government spending, with Amendment 23, which annually increases kindergarten through 12th-grade funding. Legislators say the state amendments are in opposition with one another and are steering the state toward a financial disaster. Because these are amendments, they can only be changed by a vote of the people.

It looks unlikely that a special session will be called to draft a ballot question to adjust these amendments, White said. A solution could be drafted during the fall session.

"I don't know what a ballot question might look like, but we'll have to take what they give us," he said.

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