Rep. John Salazar to stop in Steamboat

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First-term state Rep. John Salazar will stop by Steamboat Springs today to announce his candidacy for the Colorado's Third Congressional District.

Steamboat is one of five stops on Salazar's tour to announce his candidacy today. The visit comes just days after he said he would seek the Democratic nomination to replace outgoing Republican Rep. Scott McGinnis.

"The 2004 election season is here," said Ken Brenner, chairperson of the Routt County Democratic Party. "It will be nice to see one of the candidates coming up here. It's an opportunity for everybody to get to know John a little a better."

Salazar, D-Manassa, will make the announcement on the steps of the Routt County Courthouse between 3 and 4 p.m. today.

Ben Beall, a member and former chairman of the Routt County Democratic Party, said he guessed Salazar chose to come to Steamboat because Routt County traditionally has been a Democratic-leaning county.

Salazar also will make appearances in Pueblo, Alamosa, Durango and Grand Junction.

Salazar is a San Luis Valley farmer who grows potatoes and barley on land his family homesteaded about 150 years ago. He is the older brother of state Attorney General Ken Salazar.

John Salazar's ties to rural life and agriculture could help him connect with and understand Routt County's residents, Beall said.

It also means he could have insight on issues important in Routt County, such as the preservation of agricultural land, open space and ranching heritage, Beall said.

Other issues that could sway Routt County voters in the 2004 election are the economies of the state and nation, as well as education.

Salazar was outspoken in his opposition to Referendum A, a statewide ballot issue to $2 billion loan program to finance water projects that was rejected by Colorado voters this year.

The race for the Third Congressional District seat is likely to be interesting and competitive, Beall said.

Salazar is the second Democrat to enter the race.

State Reps. Greg Rippy of Glenwood Springs and Matt Smith of Grand Junction; Delina DiSanto of Durango; and state Sen. Ken Chlouber of Leadville are among Republicans who have expressed interest in the seat.

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