FORT COLLINS — Republican Bob McCluskey, who is challenging Democrat John Kefalas for the House District 52 seat, says he is hopeful he can regain the House seat he lost to Kefalas two years ago.
Standing on the Colorado State University (CSU) plaza Tuesday afternoon helping a group of college students pass out signs and stickers, McCluskey told The Colorado Independent that he thinks it will be close — especially considering the large number of independent groups that have come into the district to support Kefalas.
“They’ve been hitting me hard,” said McCluskey, a moderate Republican from Fort Collins. “Do you know how many independent expenditures have been used against John? None.”
McCluskey and Kefalas are familiar foes. The men battled for the HD 52 seat in 2004 when McCluskey won by 500 votes. In 2006, it was Kefalas who ran to victory, winning with 53 percent of the vote. Covering the eastern and northern part of Fort Collins, HD 52 is in many ways symbolic of Colorado’s growing nature as a swing state. Unlike HD 53, the other state legislative district in Fort Collins that has been in Democratic hands for decades, HD 52 has a more moderate voting block, which translates into closer elections and more attention from outside political groups.
When asked if the sour Republican brand in 2008 and the unpopularity of President George Bush made campaigning tough this year, even for a moderate such as himself, McCluskey said things could have been worse.
“You know, it wasn’t as bad this year as it was in 2006,” McCluskey said. “In 2006, President Bush and the war in Iraq were all that I really heard from people. This year, people aren’t talking about those things. They’re talking about the economy and they’re talking about jobs. I am hearing a lot of people talk about jobs.”
During the campaign that is seen by many observers as one of the true toss-ups in Colorado, McCluskey, a former Fort Collins City Council member who served two terms in the state House, touted his work to pass legislation aimed at fighting against police impersonation and Internet predators, as well as his work to create a hospital report card to help people better choose health care facilities.
Finishing his first term at the capitol, Kefalas campaigned on his work to strengthen uranium-mining regulations in Colorado — which helped stop a proposed mine in Northern Colorado earlier this year — as well as his efforts to lower the cost of textbooks for college students and to help the poor. Kefalas worked with Gov. Bill Ritter’s son, August Ritter, as well as other CSU students to pass the textbook legislation this spring.