Republican Roberts announces bid for term-limited Isgar’s state senate seat

State Rep. Ellen Roberts, a Durango Republican, announced she’ll run for the sprawling southwest Colorado Senate seat held by term-limited Democrat Jim Isgar, the Durango Herald reports.

Isgar could depart the seat early, giving a Democratic vacancy committee the chance to install an incumbent to defend the seat, which has been held by Democrats for years. The Hesperus-based rancher has applied for a job with the Obama administration and is rumored to be under consideration as Region 8 administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Roberts raised a ruckus just after the election last fall when she lost a bid for House GOP caucus chair to the more conservative Amy Stephens of Monument. Roberts charged unnamed party bosses with trying to muscle her out of the leadership race by threatening her with a primary challenge in 2010.

“I got a phone call, and it was suggested that if I would back out (of the caucus chair race), things could be easier or things could be harder,” Roberts said in November.

She said other Senate Republicans were treated to “arm-twisting” and threatened with primaries depending on how they voted in the leadership race. “If someone voted for me, that would suggest that they were more in line with a moderate Republican — which is how I’m usually characterized — and that could present problems with people for their next election,” she told PolitickerCO.

“I think as a Republican Party right now, it’s a really important message for people to hear, that we recognize that we have significant challenges within our party — both in terms of policies and leadership — and that we’re not all monkey-see, monkey-do,” Roberts said.

Roberts is embarking on a trip to Algeria this month to lead a workshop with the Algerian parliament on getting young people involved in the democratic process, she reported in her regular Durango Herald column Sunday. The trip is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative.

Democrat Brian O’Donnell, executive director of the Durango-based National Landscape Conservation System and a delegate to last year’s Democratic National Convention, is considering a bid for Roberts’ House seat, the Herald reports.

House District 59 includes Durango, Silverton, Pagosa Springs and Cortez, and has been represented by Republicans for years. Roberts ran unopposed to win a second term last year.

Isgar was appointed to the Senate District 6 seat in 2001 when incumbent Jim Dyer, also a Democrat, resigned to take a seat on the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Isgar won re-election to his second full, four-year term in 2006 with 60 percent of the vote.