Lundberg wins vacancy appointment to Colorado Senate

State Rep. Kevin Lundberg is moving up to the Senate, reports Bob Moore at the Coloradoan.

The Berthoud Republican won a landslide 86-42 victory over Loveland businessman Mike Lynch in an election by Larimer County Republican activists to complete the remaining term of Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins. Johnson was elected in November to the Larimer County Commission.

In a statement released by the Senate Minority Office, Lundberg said, “I was greatly encouraged to have support from such a large majority of the committee. I intend to continue to represent Larimer County in the Senate as I did in the House. We have a tough job ahead of us, and I can’t wait to get started working on solutions that help Coloradans during these tough economic times.”

The not-unexpected win for the ultra-conservative Lundberg comes with a price for Larimer Republicans, who have been trying to wrest control of the local party structure dominated by socially conservative members.

State Rep. Don Marostica, former state Rep. Bill Kaufman and others have been working behind the scenes to extract a moderate, business-oriented message from the Larimer GOP, a message they think is more appealing to growing numbers of unaffiliated voters. The task is made more difficult by the dissident factions in the local Republican Party that spark periodic internecine warfare.

Johnson, who supported Lynch’s bid to succeed him, told the Rocky Mountain News that the District 15 seat will be in play with Lundberg at the helm.

Having a Dem in the seat is not unprecedented, though the district is overwhelmingly Republican. Johnson won the seat in 2002 following term-limited Senate Pres. Stan Matsunaka, D-Berthoud, who went on to unsuccessfully challenge U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave in 2002 and 2004.

The secret to Johnson’s success was setting aside his own socially conservative personal beliefs and earning a reputation for bipartisan leadership as a fiscal hawk on the Joint Budget Committee and by barnstorming the state in 2005 on behalf of Referenda C and D to provide a time-out from the budget-constricting TABOR.

These are skills Lundberg evidently has not yet mastered during his tenure in the House, where he has most recently devoted inordinate amounts of time attempting to pass legislation to define pregnancy, restrict abortion and protect religious expression while the state’s fiscal health went up in smoke.

In a Colorado Independent 2007 survey of legislator effectiveness, Lundberg came in fourth from last.

Senate GOP Caucus Chair Mike Kopp said in a press statement circulated Saturday afternoon: “I’m pleased to welcome Rep. Lundberg to the Senate Republican team. Kevin is known to be a tirelessly principled legislator who always works hard on behalf of his constituents and state. I am confident he is the right man for the job, particularly in these challenging times.”

A vacancy committee to fill Lundberg’s District 49 seat will convene Jan. 17, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald.

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