On Monday, State Rep. Kathleen Curry, a Western Slope Democrat who has often spearheaded legislation aimed at the oil and gas industry, switched her party affiliation from Democrat to “unaffiliated.”
The move forces her to give up her positions as speaker pro tem—the number two position in the House–and chairwoman of the House Agriculture Committee.
Curry told reporter John Colson at the Glenwood Springs Post Independent that she no longer felt like a Democrat:
“I just don’t fit into either party,” she told the Post Independent late on Tuesday. “My votes are not consistently Democratic, they’re whatever I think is best for the district, and I know that has sometimes been kind of a disappointment” to party leaders…
Besides her feelings of not fitting well with either party, Curry declared, “I’m also not a very partisan person,” adding that partisan politics takes up too much of her time, time she feels would be better spent attending to the concerns of her district.
In an interview with Lynn Bartels at The Denver Post, however, Curry was clear that her decision wasn’t based on any particular issue—though she acknowledged her disappointment with this year’s budget discussions:
Curry, a rancher and water expert, said her decision was not based on any single bill, action or person.
“It’s just a matter of where I fit,” she said Tuesday. “But I’m not changing my personality overnight just because I filled out a form. I’m still going to vote my conscience, which the majority of time is with the Democrats.”
Curry said her biggest disagreement with her party came during budget discussions this year.
“The Democrats do have a big tent and have always been respectful, but I do feel in leadership you should march in line more than I have,” she said.
Curry pointed out to the Post Independent that there has never been an Independent in the House, and suggested the move could cause what she termed “procedural and administrative hurdles”for the House leadership.
The Post Independent reported that observers in the district did not expect the move would endanger her re-election chances. Curry has run unopposed in the last two elections–2006 and 2008.
However, she registered too late to run as an Independent candidate in next year’s election, and will likely have to run as a write-in candidate–something she acknowledged won’t be an easy feat.