Craig Despite a laundry list of accomplishments, ranging from Army Ranger, lawyer, author and outdoor enthusiast, what Bob McConnell is most proud of is what his wife calls “cowboy virtues.”
“The cowboy virtue is being a man of his word, respecting hard work and being able to work as long as it takes to get the job done,” McConnell said.
As he tours the Western Slope promoting his Republican bid for the Third Congressional District seat in Congress, McConnell hopes to show residents that his virtues transfer to government. McConnell stopped Tuesday in Craig and spent Wednesday at Twentymile Coal Co.
A longtime Colorado and current Steamboat Springs resident, this is McConnell’s first time running for office.
He will be running for incumbent John Salazar’s seat, who has not yet confirmed he will seek re-election.
McConnell will be running against republican Scott Tipton, a Cortez republican who was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in November 2008.
John Ponikvar, chairman for the Moffat County Republican Central Committee, thinks McConnell is a good candidate.
“He is not a career politician and certainly brings a different perspective into the race,” Ponikvar said. “I think people are unhappy with the politicians that they have, and they are looking for new blood.”
Although McConnell is considered “new blood” in the political field, he contends that he is no stranger to hard work, dedication and leadership.
“I learned the meaning of duty, honor and country at a young age,” he said. “I am confident in myself based on personal experiences of leading men into battle, doing what it takes to accomplish the mission and being a respected leader.”
An honor graduate of the Army Ranger School, he served in Vietnam and Germany in the 509th Airborne as a jumpmaster and senior parachutist.
After his military career, McConnell earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee.
McConnell was stationed to the Fourth Infantry Division at Fort Carson, where he served as trial counsel in hundreds of criminal trials. He then moved to Colorado Springs where he practiced employment law as a civilian.
In 1987, he served on the Mount Everest North Face expedition although he was not able to climb to the summit.
The experience united an old love of climbing and the outdoors with a newfound passion for environmental conscientiousness, which led to a David Brower award for outstanding service in mountain conservation in 1991 and a book entitled “Gentle Expeditions: A Guide to Ethical Mountain Adventures,” published in 1996.
After retiring from law in 1999, he started K B Mountain Adventures, where he guided horseback riding, mountain biking and rock and ice climbing among others.
McConnell said he is an “adrenaline junkie” and an outdoors enthusiast.
“We choose to live here because we appreciate our freedom, we don’t want to have government running our lives,” McConnell said. “(Colorado) is beautiful and there are so many opportunities to challenge yourself physically in so many ways.”
McConnel said he can be seen “runnin’ in Wranglers” with his dogs as he exercises everyday.
McConnell’s passion for the outdoors and service to his country have shaped the landscape of his politics, he said.
He believes in smaller government, reduced taxes and individual rights. When environmental issues are brought to the table, he advocates “responsible use and enjoyment of public lands, not extreme conservation.”
Issues such as energy independence also are important to McConnell.
“We should be exploring every avenue of energy independence,” he said. “We need to do it responsibly and bring jobs back to the Western Slope. We need to put our resources to work.”
Ponikvar described McConnell as a “breath of fresh air” to Colorado politics.
On Feb. 16, McConnell will be in Craig, making appearances at the Moffat County Commission meeting at the Moffat County Courthouse and in the evening at an open house at Serendipity Coffee Shop.
The event starts at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.