Updated January 21, 2012 at 5:33 p.m.
Steamboat Springs On Saturday evening, Steamboat Springs resident Chuck McConnell sat outside the Vail Golf Club about to walk into the Eagle County Republicans Lincoln Day Dinner.
It would be his first official appearance as a candidate for House District 26, a new Colorado State House District comprising Routt and Eagle counties.
In a phone interview with the Steamboat Pilot & Today just before the dinner, McConnell said he had been thinking about running for several months before he announced his bid Friday.
“I honestly think I can make a difference for the state and our area of the state,” he said. “It focuses really on the economy and on jobs and on government regulation. Those are three areas I think are going to be foremost in all of the state and national elections.”
The new House District 26 was formed after the state Supreme Court approved new state House and Senate district maps in December. The redistricting takes effect as of the November 2012 election. The new district will take the place of House District 57, which includes Routt, Moffat, Jackson, Rio Blanco and Grand counties and most of Garfield County. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, represents the district. “As far as I’m concerned, when you look at the entire state, there were areas that I don’t think were done fairly,” said McConnell, a retired chemical engineer. “However, I think that House District 26 actually makes a lot of sense. Clearly, recreation and real estate are big parts of both of our counties.”
Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, emerged as the first candidate for the seat last week.
McConnell is the chairman of the Routt County Republicans. He said his work in the past few weeks mostly has been focused on preparing for the Feb. 7 Colorado primary. He said there is no concrete plan for the future regarding his chairman duties.
“My intention for the near term is to stay active with the Routt County Republicans,” he said. “One of the reasons is I have a whole lot of the training. I will be sure that training gets passed along to anyone that might take over duties.”
McConnell has not scheduled any appearances but said he plans to travel across the two counties during his campaign.
“It’s my intention to appear anywhere and everywhere groups of people are gathering in these two counties in which people would like to meet me and learn my views,” he said.
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or ninglis@SteamboatToday.com