Lauri Clapp, darling of the right

Years ago, I remember seeing yard signs for Monday’s Colorado Independent cover girl Lauri Clapp, who represents a district right near where I grew up. This firebrand of the far-right accomplished little in the House — who knows what she’ll do in the state Senate should she win in November against her Democratic opponent Linda Newell.

Clapp’s legislative record so far consists mostly of failed attempts to push an extremist agenda. From the Independent:

In 2006, the conservative Republican from Littleton raised eyebrows when she proposed legislation to alter current divorce-related laws shortly after filing for her own divorce — drawing complaints that she was getting too personal with her job.

Indeed, during her eight-year tenure she, along with the group of other noisy GOP colleagues, was a passionate opponent of abortion, supported required placement of the Ten Commandments in public schools and restricting marriage to between a man and a woman only. She wanted a law requiring pregnant women to view ultrasound images of their fetuses before being allowed to get an abortion. She sponsored a law barring government agencies from being able to sue gun manufacturers and supported the carrying of concealed guns in schools.

On the other hand, Clapp’s opponent sounds like a member of the political moderate that would make the commenters on my post about Lieberman start foaming at the mouth. Newell believes “Right-wing extreme politics, even left-wing extreme politics, they just don’t belong in Colorado or in the district.”

Now an extreme ideology doesn’t necessarily prevent a representative from succeeding in office, especially when his or her party has control, but no party can hold power indefinitely. More from the Monday’s story:

In one oft-remembered clash in 2003, Clapp — then serving as the chair of the Health and Welfare Committee — was rebuked by Democratic colleagues when she refused to let fellow committee member Rep. Andrew Romanoff speak during one of the panel’s hearings.

The next year, of course, marked the end of 40 years of Republican majority rule in the Legislature and Romanoff, a Denver Democrat, became the Speaker of the House. The following year, Clapp was one of seven lawmakers — four Republicans and three Democrats — who watched all of their bills killed in the legislative process.

Despite Dick Wadhams’ goal of taking back the state Senate either this year or in 2010, Democrats have continued to put up great candidates in tough districts and so far haven’t pursued the kind of wacky-left political agenda that would threaten their control of the Legislature. I would hope that Clapp could read the political tea leaves and perhaps sponsor legislation that had a better chance of passing, but she failed to do that over the last four years and I doubt she’d change just because of some new scenery in the Senate.

With Democrats in charge, Clapp’s current far-right agenda will meet with limited if any success. That’s not good representation for the district, and not good for the people I grew up with.

Colorado Independent’s blogumnist (blogger-columnist) Jeff Bridges has worked in Democratic politics for the last 10 years, serving as communications director for two congressional races in Colorado and two governor’s races in the Deep South. Bridges also worked as a legislative assistant in Washington, D.C., with a focus on military and small business issues.

Read Jeff’s latest commentaries.

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