Kelly Sloan, The Business Times
With primary battles — most of them among Republican candidates — settled, the ballot has been set for the general election in November.
Registered Republicans and Democrats in Mesa County joined with voters in the rest of Colorado in the primaries to select their party nominees.
One of the highest profile primary races in the state was for the Republican nomination for governor, which ultimately became a four-way race involving former congressmen Bob Beauprez and Tom Tancredo, former Colorado Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp and Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler.
Beauprez won the nomination with 30.2 percent of the vote statewide, followed by Tancredo with 26.6 percent, Gessler with 23.2 percent and Kopp with 19.8 percent. In Mesa County, Beauprez came away with 41.2 percent of the vote to Tancredo’s 21.4 percent. Kopp made several appearances in the county, but came in third in voting with 20.4 percent, while Gessler trailed with 16.7 percent.
Beauprez selected Douglas County Commissioner Jill Repella to run as lieutenant governor. Repella has focused on economic development in Douglas County and was a key architect and champion of the 2012 Colorado Jobs Act, a state law that allows counties to temporarily waive the business personal property tax to any company that seeks to expand. Beauprez and Repella will challenge Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, the Democratic incumbents.
Several other Republican primaries also were contested.
In the race for the Republican nomination in the 3rd Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton defeated challenger David Cox, a Palisade peach farmer, by a roughly 3-to-1 margin. Mesa County results were similar to the district results, with Tipton coming out ahead with 71.5 percent of the vote to Cox’s 28.4 percent. Tipton faces in the general election Democrat Abel Tapia, a former Colorado Lottery supervisor.
In the Republican primary for the Colorado Board of Education seat from the 3rd Congressional District, incumbent Marcia Neal received 51.7 percent of the vote to hold off challenger Barbara Ann Smith with 48.2 percent. Neal will run against Democrat Henry Roman.
In the Republican primary in Colorado House District 55, Grand Junction businessman Dan Thurlow won with
57.4 percent of the vote. Thurlow, owner of CPC Solutions, beat Steve Aquafresca, a Mesa County commissioner and former state legislator who won 42.5 percent of the votes. Thurlow now faces Democrat Chris Kennedy.
A few general election matchups were settled before the primary.
In the race for U.S. Senate, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner won the Republican nomination before the primary. He’ll face U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, the Democratic incumbent.
State Rep. Ray Scott, who previously represented House District 55, was unopposed at the Republican candidate for the Senate District 7 seat held by State. Sen. Steve King. Scott will face Democrat Claudette Konola, who mounted a failed bid for the seat four years ago against King.
Yeulin Willet was the only Republican vying for the nomination for the House District 54 seat held by State Rep. Jared Wright, who decided earlier in the year not to seek re-election. Willet will go up against Democratic nominee Brad Webb and unaffiliated candidate James “J.J.” Fletcher. Fletcher initially sought the nomination as a Republican, but dropped out to run as an independent.
Several unchallenged names appeared on Republican primary ballots at the county level as well. Former congressman Scott McInnis eliminated his two GOP rivals for the nomination for Mesa County commissioner at the March assembly, leaving him without a primary contender. McInnis will run against Democrat Mark Williams. Republicans Sheila Reiner and Janet Rich were unopposed in the primary in their bids for re-election as clerk and recorder and treasurer, respectively. Reiner will campaign against Democrat Jennifer Manzanares, while Rich remains unopposed.
Republican Ken Brownlee faces American Constitution Party candidate Steve Henderson in the general election race for county assessor. Dean Havlik remains unopposed as the Republican candidate for county coroner, while Democrat Patrick Green is likewise unopposed to remain county surveyor.
Meanwhile, one of the most contentious primary battles was for Mesa County sheriff.
Steve King, a 30-year law enforcement veteran who’s also served as a state representative and senate, ran a heated race against John Pennington, a former social worker with no law enforcement experience. King won the primary with 70 percent of the vote.
The election remains up in the air, though, after it was announced King had been fired from his contract position with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. King was accused of falsifying a timecard. The Arapahoe County District Attorney’s office has agreed to serve as a neutral party in investigating the matter. King has said the timecard error was a mistake and he has apologized.