Our View: Mitsch Bush for state representative | VailDaily.com

Our View: Mitsch Bush for state representative

the Vail Daily Editorial Board

This is a "yes, but" endorsement.

As in 2012, voters in Eagle and Routt counties are asked to choose either Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush or Republican Chuck McConnell, both of Steamboat Springs, to represent the area in the Colorado House of Representatives.

We're recommending a vote for Mitsch Bush.

Mitsch Bush and McConnell have done this before, in a 2012 contest to represent what was then a new district.

Mitsch Bush won, with our recommendation, and now has a record to run on. McConnell, as all challengers do, has expressed his opinions about what he'd do differently.

Mitsch Bush is vulnerable on two fronts — guns and alternative energy. In the 2013 legislative session, her first, Mitsch Bush voted for three of four controversial gun-control bills. All four passed with no Republican votes and were signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

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Those bills were, and remain, controversial. In the end, the bills cost three state senators their jobs, two by recall and one by resignation before another recall campaign could succeed. The bills also prompted MagPul, a company that makes magazines for rifles and pistols, to pull out of the state, taking 200 jobs with it.

We've asked Mitsch Bush about her support for the bills. Despite the disruption and bad feelings those bills created, she remains a staunch defender of the laws. We continue to oppose all four as unenforceable and, ultimately, a hindrance to gun ownership by the law-abiding.

Mitsch Bush also voted for a bill that increases alternative-energy requirements for utilities. That bill, pushed by Front Range representatives, was opposed by rural newspapers and politicians from Rocky Ford to Rangely and from Cortez to Julesburg. It ultimately passed into law, too — one of our lingering complaints about Hickenlooper.

While she maintains she got the bill amended to protect customers in the region, Mitsch Bush clearly voted against the interests of her district on that one.

So why recommend her for another term?

While her answers, to us, too often rely on more government, Mitsch Bush has the best understanding of the issues facing the state. A retired academic and former Routt County Commissioner, Mitsch Bush understands water, finance and transportation to an almost mind-boggling degree. She also has a firm grasp of how government works and works hard at her job.

We like McConnell, a retired energy industry executive. We also think that a vote for someone who believes, as McConnell does, that less government is better but who still has a realistic understanding about government's essential purposes, is rarely wasted.

Mitsch Bush, on the other hand, is a government-first type. She touts the number of bills she sponsored or co-sponsored in her first two legislative sessions. We'd rather hear which bills that were not in the interest of her district she either amended or blocked.

And yet, when we get down to the matter of experience and knowledge, Mitsch Bush is now a veteran voice for the district in Denver. She's made important alliances, sometimes across party lines. In a body that will always be dominated by the area between Pueblo and Fort Collins, it's important to have a person who knows who to talk to and how they're best approached.