State legislators can have big impact |

State legislators can have big impact

J.K. Perry

EAGLE COUNTY ” State legislature races often get lost among the more visible local and national campaigns, but political observers say the policy these legislators make should be important to voters.

The legislators campaigning locally include Republican Ken Chlouber and Democrat Dan Gibbs, both vying for the House District 56 seat representing Eagle, Lake and Summit counties. The position is being vacated by Democrat Gary Lindstrom.

“State government does not get the same attention Congress does,” said Seth Masket, assistant professor of political science at Denver University. “Whoever is in the state House can make a lot of important decisions.”

The legislators write laws and determine state spending on the economy, education, health care, immigration, water and other issues. The decisions made at the state level ultimately have a bigger effect on citizens than other races, Masket said.

“State races are inherently about local issues,” said Brian Mason, spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party.

The balance of power between Democrats and Republicans within the House is at stake in November. Democrats currently control the House 35-30. Republicans must retain all their current seats and pick up three to gain control.

The Republicans have concentrated this election cycle on becoming the House majority.

“These are the people who write Colorado state law and we believe the Republican Party is in touch with the views of the Colorado people,” said Bryant Adams, spokesman for the Colorado Republican Party.

The race between Chlouber and Gibbs, among several others, is considered an important seat for control. The party in power exerts massive leverage to pass the bills they see fit, although where the power might end up is not clear, Masket said.

Mason said he blames recent Republican majorities before Democrats took control in 2004 for an economic downturn and Colorado’s low education ranking compared to other states.

“A majority means Democrats can really, really achieve the vision we think is important to Colorado,” Mason said. “You can’t accomplish many goals at all if you’re in the minority. Dan Gibbs is a key crucial element in that goal.”

Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or

Vail, Colorado

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