A press release late yesterday announced the launch of a new challenge to GOP Rep. J. Paul Brown of Ignacio, whose swing HD-59 seat is considered a major pickup opportunity for Democrats hoping to grow their Colorado House majority in 2016:
Barbara McLachlan, celebrated former English and journalism educator and Teacher of the Year at Durango High School, announced her candidacy for state representative in House District 59, which includes Archuleta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, La Plata, Ouray and San Juan counties.
“I am excited to be running for State Representative because I believe in a brighter future filled with opportunity for our Western Slope community,” she said. “I will use my experience as a teacher and educator to tackle the major issues facing our district: fighting for our fair share of school funding, working to bring more jobs and opportunity to Southwestern Colorado, and protecting our clean air and our water, which are central to our local heritage, culture and economy.”
“As a teacher in this district for 20 years, I have dedicated my life to ensuring a high quality education for the students in our community, and I’m running for state representative to continue that work,” Barbara said. “Our Western Slope school districts deserve our fair share of funding; I’ve seen firsthand the impact of shrinking budgets in our classrooms, and I know that when our schools have the resources they need, students learn and achieve more. We can do better, and we need to do better for our students and families in Southwestern Colorado.”
Barbara is also committed to bringing her experience to bear on other important issues impacting our community.
“A major focus for my campaign will be bringing more jobs and opportunity to House District 59,” Barbara said. “While the rest of Colorado has been feeling the effects of the recovery, our Western Slope community has lagged behind. Many families are still having a hard time making ends meet and being able to save for retirement and a higher education. We need to focus on policies that will help create good jobs for hardworking Coloradans and build a stronger regional economy.”
HD-59 has swung back and forth between narrow Democratic and Republican wins in recent years, with victory as much a function of how the respective parties are faring as anything else. With 2016 a presidential election year, past performance would indicate a good chance for Democrats to retake this seat. Rep. J. Paul Brown, who is defending this seat after beating Rep. Mike McLachlan in 2014 by a mere 168 votes, has tried hard to live down a bad reputation from his first term in 2010-2012–mostly by keeping his mouth shut instead of popping off with no regard for tactfulness about whatever politically unsightly notion pops into his head. Brown earned the nickname “64 and Brown” after being the only legislator in either party to vote against an uncontroversial homeless youth prevention program.
Mike McLachlan’s considerable health problems while serving in the General Assembly in 2013-2014 are what’s presumably keeping him on the sidelines for 2016, but Barbara McLachlan by all accounts will be more than capable of making her own case for election as an educator with deep ties to the district. McLachlan taught English and journalism at Durango High School for 20 years, and was made Teacher of the Year for the Durango school district in 2012. Some of the votes she’ll be asking for are from former students.
On the upside for Brown, 2018’s midterms are only three years away.