The Republican Party will hold on to House District 57 for two more years.
Grand County rancher Randy Baumgardner defeated Routt County rancher and Democrat Todd Hagenbuch on Tuesday, and will take the baton in the state House of Representatives from veteran legislator Rep. Al White, R-Hayden.
"I'd just like to thank everybody that supported me, and I'd like to congratulate Todd for running a great race," Baumgardner said. "The running's over. Now let's go to work. Democrats and Republicans both."
Hagenbuch won by a wide margin in his home county, but it wasn't enough to offset Baumgardner's wins in the five other counties in House District 57. Hagenbuch beat Baumgardner in Routt County by a tally of 7,508 to 4,426. But according to data available to the Steamboat Pilot & Today early this morning, Hagenbuch trailed in the entire district by about 3,000 votes. House District 57 includes Routt, Moffat, Grand, Garfield, Rio Blanco and Jackson counties.
Hagenbuch called Baumgardner from the Routt County Elections Office to congratulate him and wish him well.
"I thought it would be closer than that in the other counties," Hagenbuch said. "It's a really Republican district. ... I think he had the numbers in his favor."
Neither Hagenbuch nor Baumgardner has held elected office.
Baumgardner is an Indiana native who grew up on a dairy farm and now owns a Grand County ranch. He has a law enforcement background and also has worked for the Colorado Department of Transportation. Baumgardner handily beat Dan Korkowski of Grand Lake in an August primary.
Hagenbuch is a Routt County resident and former executive director of Historic Routt County. He now works the family ranch and lives in Phippsburg with his wife and son.
Despite listing many of the same priority issues - such as water, property rights, forest health and energy development - and agreeing on some, differences between the two candidates were established throughout the campaign.
Baumgardner was a supporter of the Bureau of Land Management's $114 million sale of leasing rights on the Roan Plateau in August, while Hagenbuch joined other Colorado Democratic politicians in opposing the "fire sale."
The two also differ on energy development, with Baumgardner believing the state should focus most of its support on its traditional oil and gas energy economy and Hagenbuch advocating tax credits for the production of renewable energy, specifically citing solar, wind and small hydropower projects.
Campaign financing became a contentious issue between the two in the final weeks of the campaign. Hagenbuch issued a statement criticizing Baumgardner's contributions from sources outside the district and interest groups. Baumgardner said the criticism was unfair. He said he didn't ask anyone for the money and said that no one could buy his vote.
Financial reports through Oct. 22 showed Baumgardner's fundraising leading Hagenbuch's, $33,620 to $24,382, according to the Colorado Secretary of State's campaign finance database.