As the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports, longsuffering residents of safely Republican House District 54 may yet have a chance to put an end to their lingering Rep. Jared Wright problem:
Grand Junction attorney Yeulin Willett is challenging Rep. Jared Wright to be the Republican nominee for House District 54.
Willett, who has been practicing at the Grand Junction law firm of Younge & Hockensmith since 1987, created a campaign finance account with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office on Thursday, effectively announcing his candidacy. Still, he plans to make a formal announcement in the next two weeks.
“My life and my career have come to a stage where I have the time and the capacity to give back and do some public service,” Willett said. “I’m very motivated and very much interested in doing a better job for the Western Slope and the district.”
Willett said he hasn’t yet decided if he will challenge Wright for the seat in next month’s caucuses or petition directly onto the ballot and force a June primary race.
As we've had the pleasure of narrating for some time now, Rep. Jared Wright is a difficult case for Colorado Republicans. Originally a hand-picked nominee to replace the scandal-plagued Rep. Laura Bradford (R-Prohibition), Wright's candidacy nearly fell apart after revelations of "milking the clock" at the Fruita Police Department, which led to his resignation, as well as personal financial irresponsibility on a punchline-worthy scale. Since then, Wright emerged as a proud member of the so-called "clown car caucus" of stridently conservative lawmakers. And despite a large local contingent of Republicans who would still like nothing better than to see Wright gone, House Republican leadership including Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso have boosted his re-election campaign.
Democrats have wisely fielded a candidate in this race this year, winemaker Brad Webb of Palisade. Had Webb or any remotely qualified Democrat been in the 2012 race as Wright brushed with self-destruction, the outcome may have been different. Holding the advantage of incumbency going into 2014, a qualified Republican probably has the best chance of nudging Wright into retirement–though given this district's history, we can't rule anything definitively out. Perhaps Yeulin Willett is their savior…or maybe, this can be yet bungled into a Democratic pickup?