HD-51: Dueling Primaries

When embattled House District 51 Representative Jim Welker announced his intention to retire from the Colorado Legislature in order to “spend more time with the grandkids”, many Loveland area residents breathed a sigh of relief. 

The Tuesday election features primaries on both the Republican and Democratic tickets – a rarity in Northern Colorado.

The Loveland Reporter-Herald endorsed Don Marostica (R) and Becky Jay (D) in the primary in its Sunday, August 6 editorial.GOP Candidates
Kevan McNaught
He is a political newcomer and not well-known in the community. He is a financial planner for a regional bank. He and Rep. Welker attend the same church.

McNaught’s key issues are school vouchers, free enterprise, repeal of Referendum C, immigration enforcement, and traditional family values.

McNaught has raised $12,800 in the election cycle and has $1,316 cash on hand. McNaught has filed four adjustments to his campaign reports with the Secretary of State.

Don Marostica
He is a former Loveland City Councilman and real estate developer. Marostica was regular Army and retired as a Captain in the 19th Army Special Forces Reserves. HIs website lists 47 boards and commissions that he has served on or chaired.

Marostica’s key issues are transportation funding, educational accountability, property rights, and gun-owner rights.

Marostica has raised $152,560 thourgh the election cycle with $125,000 from himself and has $16,303 cash on hand.

Democratic Candidates
Becky Jay
She is currently serving her seventh year on the Thompson Valley School District Board of Education where she was also served as president. Becky is a law secretary in former State Senate President Stan Matsunaka’s law firm.

Jay’s key issues are a sustainable economy, K-12 and higher education, accessible health care, growth, job security/living wage, and transportation.

Jay has raised $12,900 thourgh the election cycle and has $7,818 cash on hand.

Jodi Radke
Also a political newcomer, Radke is a regional drug and alcohol prevention planning consultant. She listed no community involvement on her website.

Radke’s key issues are socially responsible jobs, affordable healthcare, fiscal responsibility, K-12 and higher ed, alternative sentencing for drug crimes, prevention programs, and renewable energy.

Radke has raised $5,360 through the election cycle and has $1,211 cash on hand. Radke posted three reports with negative ending balances.

The Backstory
Besides Rep. Welker reputation for being an ineffective state legislator with little to show for his Statehouse tenure, he was also well-known for mass forwarding controversial emails of questionable taste to a wide list of supporters, politicos, journalists, and apparently anybody unfortunate enough to be captured in his address book. In March, Welker came under fire for distributing a particularly offensive email about Hurricane Katrina victims and what the author described as “the rampant immorality of blacks”.

In April, Welker surprised Larimer GOP Assembly delegates with an unexpected resignation announcement, who were preparing to renominate him without opposition for another term. He then went on to introduce political newcomer, Kevan McNaught, as his hand-picked successor, which was supported by former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer and current U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave. According to Republican delegates on the scene the presumptive vote for McNaught, a complete unknown, was met with anger and disbelief.

The decision was tabled until the following week when a special session was called to identify other potential challengers for the primary to seek a nomination. Marostica was strongly encouraged to run by business interests in the district, including former Colorado Rep. Bill Kaufman who is leading moderate Republicans to reform the Larimer GOP.  Colorado Confidential sources who participated in the assembly described a circus-like atmosphere with supporters of Marostica being called traitors to the Republican Party by the more conservative evangelical faction.

The outcome of the HD-51 GOP primary should be very interesting for district residents clamoring for competent Statehouse representation and as a bird’s-eye view of the internal manuevering between the two warring camps in the Larimer Republican Party.

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Wendy Norris

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