Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush re-elected to Colorado House | VailDaily.com
Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com

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Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush re-elected to Colorado House

EAGLE COUNTY — Routt County Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush spent Election Day calling voters, working on finances and encouraging her crew of campaign volunteers. Today, she'll be celebrating her state House win by skiing Rabbit Ears Pass with her husband.

Incumbent Mitsch Bush will return for another term for Colorado House District 26, which covers Eagle and Routt counties. She edged out Republican challenger Chuck McConnell by a solid — but not landslide — win of 12,282 to 10,043, taking 53 percent of the votes, according to early numbers. Libertarian Thom Haupt rounded out the results with 847 votes.

DEMS MAINTAIN CONTROL

Mitsch Bush's win was among a number of victories that mean the Democrats will maintain control of the state House of Representatives.

“It’s so critical for our residents and businesses in Routt and Eagle counties to have those free flowing rivers. I love the mountains, and I love mountain people. I’m very privileged to serve them.”
Diane Mitsch Bush
State House District 26 representative

House Democrats held a 37-28 advantage during the 2013-14 session, and the Mitsch Bush-McConnell race was among nine narrowly contested races that could have resulted in a Republican takeover of the House.

THE CAMPAIGN

Mitsch Bush, of Steamboat Springs, ran on a platform that included keeping mountain water from being diverted to the Front Range and other states, and working with stakeholders and lawmakers to alleviate congestion and traffic on Interstate 70. She is heavily involved in a number of committees and task forces addressing both issues.

On the campaign trail, she told voters that she has had all 13 of her bills passed in her first two sessions. She attributed the record to her ability to work across the aisle.

McConnell, also of Steamboat Springs, spent most of his career as a chemical engineer and later worked as the CEO of a large energy company.

The topic of energy was a hot topic both between the candidates and a concern for some voters.

ENERGY SOURCES A KEY ISSUE

One Eagle County voter, Dave Hanley, said he based his state office decisions on "developing green energy the right way."

Mitsch Bush supports fracking but has worked for tighter regulations on the industry. She's also championed the use of renewable energy, voting for a bill that increased alternative-energy requirements for utilities.

McConnell ran on a platform of protecting the coal industry, a major source of jobs in Routt County. The closing of the area's coal mine would put a couple hundred families out of jobs and hurt the economy, he said.

LOOKING FORWARD

For her second term, Mitsch Bush said she will focus on a number of problems that include transportation, student debt and air and water quality. She said she is working on a bill that will introduce some short- and long-term solutions to closures and traffic on I-70. She's also working on a program that might alleviate student loans for college students, modeled after a pilot program in Oregon, and she'll continue working to improve air and water quality, she said.

"It's so critical for our residents and businesses in Routt and Eagle counties to have those free flowing rivers," she said. "I love the mountains, and I love mountain people. I'm very privileged to serve them."

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and mwong@vaildaily.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.

State House

District 26

Chuck McConnell (R): 10,043

Diane Mitsch Bush (D) (incumbent): 12,282

Thom Haupt (L): 847