Fight for 3rd District isn't much of a battle

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— "How do you beat somebody with the name recognition of Scott McInnis?" asked County Commissioner Ben Beall, who is also the chairman of the Routt County Democratic Party. Though Beall is supporting Democratic candidate Curtis Imrie for McInnis' 3rd Congressional District spot in the U.S. House of Representatives, he is unsure as to how anyone will be able to unseat McInnis, who he said enjoys broad support.
Beall isn't the only one wondering how to beat McInnis as the campaign season comes to a close. Three candidates a Democrat, a Reform Party member and a Libertarian are vying to steal McInnis' seat. McInnis is running what appears to be a relatively quiet campaign for his fifth term in Congress.
"We need citizens in government, not career politicians," said Victor Good, the Reform Party candidate for the house.
Good, the chairman of the Colorado Reform Party, has distanced himself from Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, working to get Buchanan pushed off the Reform Party ballot in Colorado in the upcoming election. He said he thinks Colorado needs a changing of the guard.
"I will have the loudest voice in Congress," Good promised.
A libertarian, Drew Sakson, has also gotten himself into the mix. He is running on a platform of ending the death tax, legalizing marijuana and moderating growth, according to his Web site.
"It is time for us to take back control of our lives and property," Sakson wrote on his Web site. "It is time for you to be the one who decides how you will spend your money, which charity, which service company, which special interest will benefit from your dollars." Sakson was unavailable for comment at press time.
Democratic challenger Curtis Imrie has a Web site devoted to "donkeys, drama and democracy." The self-described "Dean of Pack Burro Racing," Imrie has been a donkey enthusiast and a donkey racer in Leadville for 27 years. He ran for the 3rd Congressional District seat in the last election but failed to make it into the primaries.
According to his Web site, Imrie is campaigning in part on a campaign finance reform platform, hoping to get special interest money out of our political system.
"For me, social and economic justice is number one," Imrie said. "But you can't have those unless you get these big money boys out of Congress."
He debated McInnis on Sept. 16 at the Pueblo Convention Center, where he said he "ate (McInnis) like an hors d'oeuvre at one of his corporate lunches."
McInnis is the only one of the four candidates to have reported his campaign contributions as of yet, based on information from the Federal Election Commission. He had reported net receipts of $820,012 as of Oct. 18, according to the commission. He said he doubts the other candidates are being honest in not filing their records.
"We shouldn't restrict people from getting the money to campaign," McInnis said. "As long as people report everything they get."
McInnis himself is still working in Washington, D.C., dealing with budget hearings that have gone on longer than expected.
McInnis received 66 percent of the popular vote in his last election in 1998, according to the Project Vote Smart Web site. Although local officials deem this race relatively noncompetitive due to McInnis' popularity in western Colorado, McInnis is quick to reaffirm the importance of getting the word out.
"I owe it to the people I work for, the citizens of this district and of Colorado, to convince them that I've done my job," he said.
Routt County Republican Chair Olive Morton said that while she hasn't had much direct contact with McInnis this campaign season, she has been passing out his brochures and literature at debates and forums.
"The congressional session has really restricted the amount of campaigning he can do in our area," she said. "And he doesn't have very stiff competition."

To reach Avi Salzman call 871-4203 or e-mail asalzman@amigo.net

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