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Roberts, Boehler primary race heats up

The campaign season is already getting dirty in the run-up to the Aug. 10 Republican primary for Colorado State Senate District 6, with State Rep. Ellen Roberts (House District 59) from Durango and Norwood, Colo. construction company owner Dean Boehler both the victims of a mailer not tied to either campaign.

Sent out late last week, the mailer originates from a so-called 527 group called “Colorado Outlook,” and states that Boehler is “a dangerous choice for Colorado,” citing Boehler’s Tea Party connections and ultraconservative stances as potentially driving “Colorado too far to the right.”

Roberts is not mentioned in the mailer and, in an interview with SUN staff on Tuesday, Roberts categorically denied any connection with the flyer. Roberts indicated the mailer was damaging to her interests in that the implication is that her campaign is responsible for the message.

527 organizations (named after the section of U.S. tax code allowing for their participation in political campaigns) first came to notice during the 2004 presidential campaign when the 527 organization Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ran a campaign disputing presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry’s Vietnam war record.

As of press time, allegations that Colorado Outlook was connected with the Colorado Citizens Coalition (CCC) — a liberal 527 group — could not be confirmed and numerous calls to the CCC could not be completed (due to busy signals). Likewise, a call to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office could not confirm a solid connection between the two groups.

Boehler is certainly more conservative than Roberts (who has gained a reputation as a moderate Republican with a record of bipartisan cooperation). Boehler’s campaign has attacked Roberts on her vote for House Bill 1365, “The Clean Air Clean Jobs Act” which would retrofit Front Range coal-fired power plants to be fueled by natural gas.

Boehler contends that HB 1365 would cost Western Slope coal mining jobs. Roberts counters that the bill would not reduce any mining jobs (as it makes allowances for “clean coal” technology) and would increase jobs in the natural gas industry.

While saying she does not personally support abortion, Roberts has said that she does not believe the government should make those decisions.

Conversely, Boehler’s stated position is that “life begins at conception” and points to Roberts’ support for The Birth Control Protection Act which, when passed, blocked previous attempts (through legislation and initiative) to grant constitutional rights to fertilized eggs. In a phone interview, Boehler expressed support for the (defeated) 2008 Amendment 48.

On issues of taxation, smaller government, states rights and opposition to federally mandated health care, Boehler and Roberts hold similar views.

The winner of the Aug. 10 primary will face Democratic incumbent Bruce Whitehead in the Nov. 2 general election. Whitehead was selected by the District 6 Democratic Vacancy Committee to fill the seat vacated by state Senator Jim Isgar (who left to take a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture) in August 2009.

Mail-in ballots have been sent out from the Archuleta County clerks office and must be returned by Aug. 10 to that office. Early voting in the primary is Aug. 2-6 at the county courthouse.

The deadline for changing party affiliation has passed, but registered unaffiliated voters can declare a party affiliation at the polls on Aug. 10 in order to vote in a party’s primary.

jim@pagosasun.com