Aspen officials blast Hatch for elitist, enviro comments

The Pitkin County (Aspen) commissioners have joined Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.) in a border war of words with Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who on several occasions recently has disparaged Aspen as a nest of anti-oil elitists snuggling up to their like-minded congressman Mark Udall (D-Colo.).

Salazar took Hatch to task in late July for criticizing on the Senate floor Udall’s call for a one-year moratorium on oil-shale leasing. Salazar got involved because his 3rd Congressional District actually represents Aspen, not Udall’s 2nd District.

“I guess there are not too many poor in Aspen,” Hatch said. “I love Aspen and the people there, but it’s no secret that it is home to plenty of wealthy elites and environmentalists. I have no problem with Rep. Udall choosing the elite anti-oil crowd over the poor. But let’s be honest about the choices we’re making around here.”

Late last month, according to The Aspen Daily News, the Pitkin County commissioners joined in the fray with a letter to Hatch telling him Aspen residents are “proud to be called ‘environmentalists’” and that “anyone who watches the politics of western Colorado understands that we are much too independent to subscribe to a belief in ‘elitism.’”

Udall, meanwhile, clearly has issues with misrepresentations about his area of representation. Speaking at a water conference in Vail late last month, the Eldorado Springs congressman responded to repeated accusations from his Senate race opponent, Republican Bob Schaffer, that he’s a Boulder liberal (apparently even worse than being an Aspen elitist) by pointing out that Boulder is just one city in his wide-ranging 2nd District.

“For those of you untutored in Colorado who like to confuse representing this district with serving on the Boulder City Council, I’d like to point out that this district is bounded on the east by the communities of Thornton, Northglenn and Westminster — Thornton is actually the largest city in the 2nd Congressional District and Westminster ranks second — and on the west by the Eagle County line, so Eldorado Springs is somewhere in the middle,” Udall said.

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