Gibbs clobbers Chlouber for House seat
It was a hard-fought race with some heavy negative campaign messages from the “527” political action committees on either side, but in the end it was Dan Gibbs by a huge margin over Ken Chlouber for Colorado House District 56.
A tireless campaigner, Gibbs won handily, claiming 61 percent of the vote in Chlouber’s home turf in Lake County, 64 percent in Eagle and 72 percent in Summit.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Gibbs from the Backcountry Brewery in Frisco Tuesday night. “I knocked on thousands of doors and had a tremendous team. I can’t wait to get started.”
The 30-year-old Summit County Democrat topped Chlouber, the grizzled political veteran from Leadville, for the seat vacated by Breckenridge’s Gary Lindstrom. Campaigning as a “Western Slope Democrat,” Gibbs’ message of conservation and recreation appeared to resonate with the resort-area constituents more than Chlouber’s more traditional Western miner identity.
Gibbs also campaigned harder than Chlouber. Appearing at what seemed like every public event on the calendar in the three counties and wearing out a pair of boots going door to door for votes, the energetic Gibbs looked like a candidate hungrier for the job than his opponent.
“He ran an excellent campaign,” said David Cunningham, a Frisco-based political consultant. “He worked it, he stood on street corners, he made the phone calls, he did everything a candidate should do.”
It was the kind of campaign Chlouber himself ran when he was first elected to the state Legislature, Cunningham said.
“I was very surprised not to see Ken out there doing the same thing as Dan,” he said. “I never saw him out and about in Summit and Eagle counties. Dan took it a step further, and that’s what makes the difference.”
Near midnight Tuesday, Chlouber was out in Lake County picking up his campaign signs. He said he’d called Gibbs earlier to congratulate him.
“I took a good country whuppin’,” Chlouber said. “I don’t feel all that good, but you know that can be the outcome when you get into this business.”
Chlouber said he believed Gibbs would do a good job.
“He seems like a fine young man, and he’s got some exciting times ahead of him,” he said.
Gibbs promised not to be the kind of politician who becomes scarce after the election.
“I’m not going to give up my involvement in things like the Vail Rotary,” he said. “You’ll see me in the grocery store, you’ll see me on local boards and organizations.”
While the two candidates remained mostly cordial to each other throughout the campaign, it was the political action committees that made the race seem a bit nastier than what the High Country is used to seeing. One radio ad targeting Chlouber compared him to a wolf in sheep’s clothing, while another attacked Gibbs, calling him a liar.
Both candidates decried the ads and disavowed any knowledge or involvement with the organizations that created them.
“It poisoned the water,” Chlouber said, adding that the 527’s likely contributed to his loss.
“All those horrible ads, they turned friends and neighbors against me,” he said.
“That’s going to stick with me for a long time.”
Asked whether he benefitted from other Democratic Party wins across the state and nation, Gibbs said it might have helped but that he had support across the board.
“I’m proud to say I had plenty of bipartisan support in all three counties,” he said.
Alex Miller can be reached at 748-2931, or email@example.com.
Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado