HD 33: Primavera v. Kliebenstein

State Rep. Dianne Primavera is running for a second term in the House District 33 seat because she believes Colorado needs better health care reform.

Caught on her cell phone between neighborhoods during a door-knocking spree in the Broomfield area, the first-term Democrat passed off criticism from some Republicans that Democrats failed to make the waves in health care reform this year they promised in January. But she acknowledged the Legislature can do more.

“I think it is a misperception that we didn’t get a lot done this year,” said Primavera, who has long history of volunteer work in social and medical fields and who knocked off incumbent Republican Rep. Bill Berens in 2006. “I think we did a lot in terms of health care. Do we have single payer or universal system set up? No, but I think we focused on really important things.”

Republican Nick Kliebenstein, candidate House District 33 (Photo/www.nickforhouse.com)Despite calling for more reform, Primavera declined to name any specific legislation she will push next year if she can beat Republican challenger Nick Kliebenstein in November.

“I get my best ideas through constituents, and I have just started working door to door,” Primavera said. “I will have a better idea after I walk the district what my priorities will be, but they will be something related to health care.”

Both parties in Colorado are targeting this race, in part because of the closeness of voter registration in the north-central Colorado district, which is anchored by the City of Broomfield and includes the towns of Erie and Superior, as well as parts of unincorporated Weld County. Two years ago Primavera edged out Berens by just 858 votes, after controversy erupted when Colorado Confidential found that Berens, then a freshman, had accepted a $20,000 check from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association for scoring a hole-in-one at a golf tournament. 

This year Kliebenstein, who did not respond to e-mail and phone requests for an interview, is also pushing for health care reform, according to his campaign Web site.

“I am committed to having quality education and accessible health care,” Kliebenstein states on the site. “Parents and families need choices, not one-size-fits-all remedies.”

A financial adviser with Edward Jones in Broomfield and a relative newcomer to Colorado politics, Kliebenstein’s entry into the HD 33 race has already encountered some bumps.

One week after filing the first finance report of his campaign in the fall of 2007, questions arose about separate $800 contributions that had been accepted by his campaign from three individuals. State law allows candidates to accept a maximum of $200 from individuals for primary and general elections, or $400 total.

At the time, Kliebenstein’s campaign noted it had subsequently filed amendments to that filing, indicating the $800 donations were not from individuals but from married couples — or $400 from each individual — which is within state law.

At the end of the first quarter this year Primavera had $25,259.15 cash on hand, or three times as much as Kliebenstein, who reported $7,601.87 in the bank.

Fast-forward to this month, when another detail surfaced: Kliebenstein had missed the state’s June 6 deadline to register as a Republican last year by one day.

Despite missing the state’s deadline, 11 days later Secretary of State Mike Coffman’s office released an opinion letter to leaders in both parties, notifying them that Kliebenstein had not violated ballot access rules due to a discrepancy between state statute and party guidelines.


In fact, the political parties have different affiliation deadlines than the state statute, and previous court rulings have said the party deadline trumps the state statute. 

“Through consultation with the Attorney General’s office and review of prior case law, the Secretary determined a reasonable deadline for the parties to finalize their candidates for the primary ballot,” said Department of State spokesman Rich Coolidge in the letter. “The law is not clear about the deadline for vacancy committees to meet and replace candidates who withdraw. In turn, prior court decisions have directed the state to allow access to the ballot before it is certified.”

Said Monica Piergrossi, who is directing the Democratic House Majority’s election efforts: “There is a weird vagueness and conflict between the two (deadlines), and this is something that we need to clarify because having two different deadlines is not OK. Because the statutes conflict and because the Kliebenstein campaign met the basic compliance within his party, we are not going to fight it out in court.”

Democratic leadership may take up the issue legislatively next year but “at this point there have been no moves to deal with it," Piergrossi said.

Colorado State University professor and a long-time Colorado political observer John Straayer said the bumps for the Kliebenstein campaign are of note but shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

“If it’s just those two missteps, it won’t matter much in the end,” Straayer said. “People aren’t paying attention because it’s early, and the violations are not egregious, and they are easy to explain. I don’t think that this will be noticed, but it could be bigger if more things come in the future. In politics, these things have a way of piling up.”