Three weeks after Election Day, Brighton Democrat Dave Rose is ready to give up the race for House District 30 after county officials certified vote totals on Monday showing him trailing Republican Kevin Priola 11,936 to 11,504 votes. The margin — 1.84 percent out of more than 23,000 votes cast — is greater than the 0.5 percent that would have triggered an automatic recount. “I’ll go along with the final tally of losing by 432 votes,” Rose told the Colorado Independent on Tuesday. “It’s very disappointing,” he added.
Rose made headlines the day after the election when he withdrew a concession, citing thousands of provisional ballots yet to be counted. Tending to favor Democratic candidates, the provisionals — filled out by voters who believed they were entitled to vote, even though their names didn’t appear on the rolls — helped close a 576-vote election-night gap in Rose’s favor but fell short of handing him the win.
Priola didn’t wait for Rose to concede, caucusing with Republicans days after the election and winning appointment to the House Finance and Business Affairs and Labor committees.
“As an experienced small businessman, Kevin will be a thoughtful and effective voice in the discussions about Colorado’s economic future,” House Minority Leader Mike May of Parker said in a statement. “These are both critical committees given the current climate of economic uncertainty, and I am confident that Kevin will be a strong advocate for sound fiscal policies and business-friendly legislation.”
It’s a sharp reversal for the district, which has been represented for the last eight years by Democrat Mary Hodge, who won a state Senate seat after being forced to move on from the lower chamber due to term limits. Democrats don’t have a lock on the district, though, Rose said, pointing to similarly slim wins by Hodge. “That’s why Republicans targeted the district,” he said.
State Democrats were slow to realize the open seat was in danger, Rose said, and by the time they made it a priority, Priola had already benefited from months of Republican focus. “I got out marketed,” Rose said. “It was a heck of a job marketing on their side.”
Rose also noted he was hampered from campaigning full time because of his job as principal of Northeastern Elementary School in Brighton. “I’m not going to take myself out of the running in the future for the same race,” Rose said. While it’s too early to decide about 2010, Rose said he planned to watch Priola and determine whether to run again in “another year or so.” Noting his extensive background in public service, the former candidate said, “I hope I would still be considered a top candidate for the Democratic Party. You can’t possibly give up after being that close.”