‘We’re not the biggest players in the state’
BRECKENRIDGE – Locals didn’t look far beyond their backyards in considering what a local guy shooting for the governor’s office could mean for the Summit County.State Rep. Gary Lindstrom, a Breckenridge resident whose district includes Eagle County, announced Thursday he will seek the Democratic nomination in the 2006 race to replace Gov. Bill Owens.”Whether he’s successful or he isn’t, it says something about Summit County and about its political awareness,” said Breckenridge Mayor Ernie Blake. “We forget really … that we’re not the biggest players in the state.”It would be exciting to have a governor who says his home is in Breckenridge,” Blake added. Frisco resident and political consultant David Cunningham said a governor can tend to forget about western Colorado. “Much like (U.S. Sen.) Ken Salazar was, I think Gary would be a great asset to western Colorado and to the West Slope,” Cunningham said.Lindstrom, a 31-year resident and former county commissioner, said he decided to enter the race chiefly to address infrastructure problems as the state’s population continues to grow. Delighted that Lindstrom would bring “some variety into the menu,” Summit Democratic party chairman Sandy Briggs said the candidate is more progressive than most. Lindstrom supports legalized pot, open immigration and same-sex benefits, to name a few.”It would be great for us to have someone with a point of view different than the typical Front Range mindset,” Briggs said in October. But a win would depend on finances, Briggs said Friday, and Lindstrom has not yet lined up big donors. “It depends on whether the money people will support him,” Briggs said. “Money is the milk of politics.”Democratic opponent Bill Ritter, a former Denver district attorney, has six months of fundraising under his belt, giving him a leg up on the campaign, said spokesman Evan Dreyer. Dreyer added that “Gary faces insurmountable hurdles” in a gubernatorial bid.Dreyer noted that Lindstrom’s name recognition is low on the Front Range, where 80 percent of the state’s voters reside.Lindstrom might seem like a ghost to county residents as his campaign begins. He said he plans to connect with people around the state by discussing two industries he thinks should drive the economy – tourism and agriculture.If Lindstrom won the party’s nomination, he would not be able to also run in 2006 to retain his seat representing District 56 in the state House of Representatives. He said he was planning to file papers with the state Monday, making his campaign official.