Seeking a Western Slope senator |

Seeking a Western Slope senator

Over the decades, Western Slope political leaders will occasionally get a burr under their saddle blankets and float the idea that Colorado should actually be two states, split along the Continental Divide.

Given more than, oh, five minutes of thought, the idea reveals itself as absurd. The fact remains, though, that life is a little different here on the Western Slope. That’s why Colorado has been well served over the years by having one U.S. senator from the Eastern Slope and one from this side of the divide.

Prospects for continuing that split seemed to dim with the recent announcement that 3rd District U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, a Glenwood Springs native and Republican, would not seek the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Ignacio. Or did they?

Democrats seem to have found a good candidate in Attorney General Ken Salazar. An ever-so-slightly-left-of-center Democrat in the Roy Romer (or pre-1995 Ben Campbell) mold, Salazar hails from a farm family in the San Luis Valley. While not technically a part of the Western Slope, that valley faces many of the same issues regarding water, agriculture and tourism as the rest of the western part of the state.

That background would make Salazar an effective advocate for the state’s rural interests, said Reeves Brown, executive director of Club 20. And Salazar will be a formidable candidate.

The state’s Republicans, meanwhile, remain in a Front Range dither about who to run for Campbell’s’ seat, with potential candidates seeming to wilt the moment the party’s collective gaze lands upon them.

Casting our eyes around for a suitable candidate with Western Slope ties, the state’s Republicans could do worse than nominating Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, a Grand Junction native. Norton has had elective experience at the statehouse as well as in the federal bureaucracy as regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Her biggest handicap might be her current job as lieutenant governor, which is as close to a political black hole as a Coloradan can get.

It’s a long way to the November election, but residents of Colorado’s rural and resort areas seem to have at least one candidate who could be a solid advocate for their issues. Time will tell whether we get two.


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