Menconi, Stone 30-1 shots for Congress?
VAIL ” There’s Joan Fitz-Gerald at 3-1, Jared Polis at 12-1 and Will Shafroth at 15-1.
But farther down a list handicapping the race for next year’s 2nd Congressional district seat are, side-by-side, two names quite familiar to Eagle County residents: County Commissioner Arn Menconi and former county commissioner Tom Stone.
Stone, a Republican, and Menconi, a Democrat, were sometimes adversaries while serving together. Both pegged at 30-1 odds to become U.S. congressman. The odds are at the political Web site coloradopols.com.
But there’s one problem with the odds: Menconi says he isn’t going to run.
“I think it’s funny that I’m even on the Web site,” Menconi said.
Menconi said he considered a run for U.S. Rep. Mark Udall’s seat, but decided against it. A run for that office would be a personal sacrifice, especially considering that he has young children, he said.
He also considered his name recognition and his ability to fund-raise, he said.
The heavily Democratic district encompasses Gilpin, Clear Creek, Summit, Grand, Eagle and Broomfield counties and parts of Boulder, Jefferson, Weld and Adams counties. Udall, its longtime representative, is running for Senate.
Menconi, who will be term-limited after his term ends in 2008, said he might run for Jack Taylor’s state Senate seat next year. Or he might serve on a local board such as a planning commission or the school board, he said.
Or he might simply continue to work on behalf of his nonprofit group, the Snowboard Outreach Society, he said.
Stone, on the other hand, said he’s still considering a run for Congress. He is apparently the only Republican who is seriously considering a campaign.
Stone said he’s seen the odds at coloradopols.com but he doesn’t put much stock in them because it appears to be a “very liberal” Web site.
Representatives for coloradopols.com could not be reached. It’s not clear when the odds were posted or last updated.
The potential for a competitive Democratic primary between Fitz-Gerald and Polis is an encouraging sign, Stone said.
“I think that could leave a good opening for a moderate Republican candidate,” he said.
Stone said he’s talked to state Republican officials about a bid for the seat.
“They think I’d be an attractive candidate because I know how to campaign,” he said. “My comment to them has always been, very openly, that I only run to win. I don’t run to lose.”
It’s still very early, and Stone said he probably won’t make a decision on whether to run until next year.
John Straayer, a political science professor at Colorado State University, said the race is between Fitz-Gerald, Polis and Shafroth.
“You’re really looking at a three-man race,” he said.
Straayer said he hadn’t heard of Stone or Menconi as candidates.
“That sounds to me like a definition of a long shot,” he said of their potential candidacies.
Whether a county-level politician could be a viable candidates depends on several factors, including how much money they can raise, how well they’re known and simply “how good they are,” he said.
Being from Eagle County may make it harder for a candidate to gain support, he said.
Eagle County is at the western edge of the district and is less populous than the eastern edge of the district, which includes Boulder and northwest Denver suburbs.
It would also be difficult for a Republican to win the seat, Straayer said. Udall got 68.3 percent of the vote in 2006.
“If the general national mood remains what it is, given the war, the Bush factor and the results of the ’06 election, it looks like it’s an uphill battle in the extreme for a Republican in that district,” he said.
As for Stone vs. Menconi in November ’08, it seems the odds are infinitesimal.
“Tom and I are sort of this odd couple to the community, so it makes it intriguing in that regard,” Menconi said of their shared 30-1 odds on the Web site.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.