In one of Colorado’s most important House contests, Summit County Republican chair Debra Irvine is challenging liberal Democrat Majority whip Christine Scanlan for Colorado House District 56, and has a good shot at beating her. House District 56 comprises Summit, Lake and Eagle counties, and includes the ski resorts of Breckenridge and Vail.
Though politically active, Irvine is no career politician–she’s an artist with a diverse career background that includes Defense Department work abroad. And like the Republican candidate in companion Senate District 16, Evergreen businessman Tim Leonard, she’s signed the CUT pledge, while none of their opponents have.
The CUT pledge serves as a fiscal conservatism litmus test that separates dedicated tax cutters and small government proponents from those RINOs who straddle the economic policy fence, trolling for liberals and voting alongside Democrats for more taxes and spending if elected to office. I spoke to Debra last week about CUT and other issues, and she came off as thoughtful and knowledgeable about every provision of CUT and supported the pledge without hesitation. The pledge is put out by the Colorado Union of Taxpayers, and is set forth in its entirety here.
The CUT pledge not only covers taxes and spending, but property rights and education issues as well. Irvine’s opponent, House Majority whip Christine Scanlan, has led Colorado down a treacherous path on all of these issues. On the critical CUT issue of eminent domain and property rights, Scanlan recently co-sponsored a bill masquerading as a simple legal clarification measure on rafters who might accidentally hit a rock in a river; in fact the bill would allow commercial rafting outfitters to disembark, unload their gear and trespass on private property-and not simply in emergencies.
In effect, HB 1188 would provide a free easement to these commercial rafters, and thus a property taking without just compensation against the land owners-violations of both the Colorado and U.S. constitutions. The bill was expanded to include non-commercial rafters, which is only fair as proponents were doing the bidding of the vocal commercial rafting industry. But that does nothing to address the serious legal problems in the bill. The measure barely made it out of the senate judiciary committee, with all Republicans voting against it. Even the Dems have since realized the bill wasn’t fully thought through and deserved more “study.”
Scanlan has also been a teachers union pet, and her pet projects have contributed to Colorado’s financial devastation – policies Irvine opposes. Irvine instead favors increased educational standards, more parental involvement, and English immersion – a provably more successful approach to teaching English than the ESL favored by the teachers unions. And linguistics is something Irvine really knows-she is fluent in four languages, including German, Italian and French.
Irvine told me she felt very confident about her chances against Scanlan and that her fundraising was going well. It’s a tall order for Republicans to retake the house in 2010 (the state Senate seems more likely), but knocking out Scanlan would represent a major victory for Coloradans. With no Republican primary opponent, Irvine will be able to devote all her energy and funds to fighting Scanlan.