Musgrave Courts the Fort

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Fort Morgan) made a rare public appearance in Fort Collins on Wednesday when she hosted an economic development forum which culminated in a leisurely walk down College Avenue in the heart of Old Town.

Speculation is rife that the three-term Republican’s narrow district wide victory last November over Democratic challenger Angie Paccione and former Republican-turned-Reform Party candidate (and now recently minted Democrat) Eric Eidsness is spurring her newfound constitutent outreach efforts. Though the hard right social conservative from the Eastern Plains squeaked out a win to return to Congress, she lost Larimer County by eight percentage points. Whispered concerns about her 2008 prospects were heightened as both of her previous challengers sat in the audience of 60 to hear a five-member panel of local business leaders and academics read prepared statements on nearly identical laundry lists of regional economic challenges and opportunities – affordable housing, workforce development, health care affordability, entrepreneurial prospects, and transportation.

Only one panelist, Larry Burkhardt of Upstate Colorado, a regional economic development group based in Weld County, mentioned immigration reform in the context of the pre-Christmas 2006 ICE raids of the Swift & Co. packing plant in Greeley intimating a more conciliatory note toward a proposed national guest worker program and expanded work document verification protocols than is supported by the Congresswoman.

Rep. Musgrave, herself, also stuck to the usual GOP talking points of permanently enshrining President Bush’s tax cuts, advancing a scheme to allow consumers to purchase health insurance across state lines, and eliminating estate taxes.

As often featured in her new weekly constituent emails touting her bi-partisan efforts in Congress, Rep. Musgrave struck one fairly universally-embraced goal to promote renewable energy, or as she termed it “homegrown fuel”, to drive economic development throughout the district.