Former legislator gets into statehouse race
LEADVILLE – The siren song of politics keeps calling Ken Chlouber.”I’m not good at doing nothing,” he said, although promoting an ultra-marathon, running in burro races and riding bulls and motorcycles hardly qualifies as “nothing.”The Leadville Republican was supposed to be through with politics after the 2002 session of the Colorado Legislature, thanks to term limits. After four years away from the state house, though, Chlouber has decided to run for the seat in the Colorado House of Representatives now held by Breckenridge Democrat Gary Lindstrom. Lindstrom decided last week not to seek a second term. Summit County Democrat Dan Gibbs, currently an aide to U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, has said he challenge for Lindstrom’s seat, too.When Chlouber decided to run, though, it looked likely Lindstrom would run again. But a campaign against an incumbent would have been nothing new for Chlouber.”I may be the only person in the history of Colorado politics to beat three incumbents,” he said. He defeated incumbents in his first runs for Lake County Commissioner, the Colorado House of Representatives and the state Senate. “I know I can win elections,” he said.The key to politics, he said, is people.”It’s being concerned about who you’re talking to at that moment, not worrying about who’s over his shoulder.”But getting elected is just the start, Chlouber said. “The other half of it is good government,” he said. “That’s why I’m running. I’ve got a lot of experience I can use for the people of this district.”
‘This is about winning’In 18 years as a state representative and senator, Chlouber established a reputation as one of the legislature’s most colorful characters. Seen as a staunch Republican, he has sponsored bills to relax the state’s concealed weapons laws, but is also a strong supporter of organized labor. When the Eagle County Commissioners were debating whether or not to spend county money to preserve the Bair Ranch in 2003-04, Chlouber testified in favor of the deal.But, he added, he’s dedicated to his party, and knows full well what’s at stake in the fall elections.Democrats took control of both houses of the state legislature in 2004. It was the first time since the 1960s the party had done that. A one-seat change in the state senate changes the majority party, and a three-seat shift in the house gives that part of the legislature back to the Republicans. Chlouber is a key part of a state strategy, and it’s one he believes in.”Party has never been a banner I just wave,” he said. “But this is about winning.”Democrats won the legislature in 2004 by spending a lot more than the Republicans, Chlouber said. “This year, Republicans are prepared to spend what it takes.”Bulls and burrosWhile dedicated to his party, Chlouber said he seeks out all voters.”I’m just as comfortable asking Democrats for their votes as Republicans,” he said.Beyond state strategy, though, Chlouber said he plans to work hard on the issues of his district – which is Lake, Eagle and Summit counties. Those issues include the economy, transportation and education.
“Quality of life begins with a job,” he said. On transportation, he said “We’ve got to do something about I-70. I don’t have the key, but it’s going to take a multi-faceted approach.”Married to a teacher, Chlouber also is a firm believer in education “My position as a legislator is to help provide what districts need,” he said.While politics is close to his heart, Chlouber has other passions. For the last 30 years, he’s organized and promoted the Leadville Trail 100, an “ultra-marathon” for runners. At age 67, he still runs the event.He also participates in burro racing, in which runners and animals race, in places including Mosquito Pass between Leadville and Alma. For fun, he rides a motorcycle, and has ridden bulls in rodeos.”There’s nothing more of a rush,” he said. “You’ve got to tell them to open the gate when you’re ready. That’s where life is at its peak.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado