Tuesday, November 7, 2000
Steamboat Springs Republican Al White of Winter Park narrowly retained the Colorado House District 56 seat for his party Tuesday night, defeating Democrat Jay Fetcher of Routt County with a 326-vote margin out of almost 31,000 ballots cast.
The final vote was 15,666 in favor of White and 15,340 for Fetcher. The two men were seeking the seat vacated by state Rep. Jack Taylor R-Steamboat Springs because of term limitations. Taylor was elected to the state Senate on Tuesday, defeating Democrat Paul Ohri of Kremmling.
White was fielding a barrage of telephone calls at noon Wednesday but his wife, Jean, said they were happy and still anxiously awaiting certification of the vote from the Secretary of State's Office.
The outcome of the election was unknown at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday with White leading by about 450 votes, but Jackson and Garfield counties struggling to count the votes. The only portion of Garfield County in the House district is the city of Carbondale. Fetcher won there, 1,078 to 649, but it wasn't enough to make up the difference when Jackson County finally went for White, 633 to 223.
White's margin of victory was close to 1 percent and Colorado law says a candidate may not ask for a recall unless the margin of defeat is .5 percent or less. Fetcher said Wednesday that he has no interest in a recount anyway.
"I'm feeding cows and getting back to reality," Fetcher said.
Fetcher, a well-known local cattle rancher who has been involved in land preservation causes and served as president of the Steamboat school board, won handily in Routt County, piling up 5,937 votes to 3,171 for White.
However, White, a ski shop and ski lodge owner from Winter Park, returned the favor in his home county of Grand with 4,230 votes to 1,695 for Fetcher. White was able to pull off a narrow win in Eagle County, the most populous in the district. He pulled 6,983 votes in Eagle County to 6,407 for Fetcher.
Earlier in the night Tuesday, White was predicting that the vote in Jackson County and Carbondale would be a push, essentially canceling each other out and leaving him with the 468 vote margin he carved out in Grand and Eagle counties.
Fetcher went to bed Tuesday night believing he might be headed for the state capitol as early as Thursday for three days of freshman orientation at the state Legislature. He said he called White on election eve.
"I called Al and told him I thought whoever won, the 56th District would have a good representative," Fetcher said. "I think Al was surprised."