Steamboat Springs Despite losing his home county in a very tight race, state Rep. Jack Taylor of Steamboat Springs will be going back to the state Legislature, this time as a senator.
The race was too close to call at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and Taylor retired for the night, trusting that his 900-vote margin would hold up. In fact, the margin of victory over Democrat Paul Ohri actually increased to 1,141 as tallies from Garfield and Jackson counties became known. Unofficially, Taylor finished with 26,821 votes to 25,680 for Ohri. Ohri actually won Routt County, Taylor's home, by a slim margin. He took in 46.7 percent of the vote to 46.0 percent for Taylor, which amounted to about 70 votes.
Taylor served in the Colorado House of Representatives for eight years, after which he was driven out by term limits.
Taylor achieved a 450-vote margin in Moffat County and a 457-vote margin in neighboring Rio Blanco County, where Meeker is the county seat. In Garfield, the difference was similar - 7,930 for Taylor and 7,432 for Ohri. Jackson went to Taylor by a 591- to 284-vote margin. Ohri captured Grand County, 3,397 to 2,571, but that wasn't enough to offset Taylor's wins elsewhere.
Before he went to bed Wednesday morning, Taylor was optimistic.
"We're waiting to see how the numbers come out," he said. "I think it looks good."
Taylor replaces another Republican, Dave Wattenberg of Walden, in the Senate. Wattenberg was forced to leave office because of term limits.
Ohri was able to put up a strong fight in a number of counties with a majority of registered Republicans, but lost Eagle, which, with more than 21,000 registered voters, was seen as a swing county in the election.
"We're still holding out some hope Garfield County still has as much as 8,000 votes out but I really thought we'd win Eagle," Ohri said early Wednesday morning. "Still, I think we really held our own in the Republican counties."
Taylor was endorsed by popular Republican Congressman Scott McInnis, who won re-election to his U.S. Third District seat by a large margin Tuesday.
A third Senate District 8 candidate, Libertarian Michael Zuckerman ran a quiet campaign, taking no money and doing little actual campaigning beyond attending forums and speaking to the media. Zuckerman received less than 5 percent of the vote in most counties, including 3 percent in Routt County.
Taylor ran on a platform of cutting taxes and continuing to support tourism in the area. He also touted his experience on his family's farm as evidence of his ties to the agricultural community.
Throughout his campaign, Taylor stressed the importance of having someone with legislative experience going into the state Senate. Because all three of the members of the Legislature from northwest Colorado will be new to their positions, Taylor said the residents of the area need someone in the Senate who knows how to get things done.
Ohri, a longtime Kremmling Realtor, identified growth, housing, education and water as the big issues for District 8. He served as Grand County Commissioner from 1987 to 1999, being named Colorado's "Commissioner of the Year" in 1993. He also is the president of the board of directors of the Colorado River Water Conservation District.