Aspen activist Lee Mulcahy is running as the Libertarian Party candidate for the Colorado Senate District 5 seat being vacated by Gail Schwartz, of Snowmass Village.
Mulcahy will be on the November ballot against Vail Democrat Kerry Donovan and Republican Don Suppes, of Orchard City in Delta County. Schwartz, a Democrat, cannot run again because of term limits.
Mulcahy has gained notoriety in the Aspen area because of his well-publicized battle with Aspen Skiing Co. and managing partner Jim Crown. He is engaged in legal disputes with the company and the Crown family over Skico’s ban on him entering their property or public lands they lease for their ski areas.
Mulcahy was once a top-rated “diamond pro” ski instructor for Skico, but he was fired. Skico contends he broke too many rules. Mulcahy said he was canned for exploring formation of a union for ski instructors. He broadened his fight in an effort to try to get a “living wage” for Skico employees lowest on the pay scale, such as instructors and lift operators.
Mulcahy was nominated to serve as the Libertarian candidate at the party’s state convention in Denver in March and then was endorsed by the attendees, according to Jeff Orrok, state party chairman. He met the qualifications, including being a registered Libertarian for at least 150 days prior to Colorado’s primary date in late June. None of the three candidates is facing a primary challenge.
The party is putting seven candidates for state Senate on the ballot, Orrok said.
Mulcahy has been critical of both major political parties on a variety of issues in letters to the editor and public statements.
“I honestly believe that the Republicans and Democrats are challenged to serve the little guy,” he said. “People are looking for an alternative. I am the voice of the little people.”
Mulcahy has formed a 12-member steering committee to help establish his platform. The members bring diverse political views, he said. They include Johnny Boyd, a newspaper columnist and activist in Snowmass Village; Maurice Emmer, a past and possibly future mayoral candidate in Aspen; Jeannie Perry, a co-architect of the Occupy Aspen movement that Mulcahy helped create; and criminal defense attorney Tedd Hess, according to a list provided by Mulcahy. The committee is meeting later in May to help him form positions, he said.
Mulcahy’s campaign manager is Ray Cheney, a retired attorney and another architect of Occupy Aspen.
In a statement, Mulcahy said that three positions he will try to get endorsed by his steering committee are working for a statewide living wage, saving Thompson Divide from gas exploration and state nullification of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“It’s my dream to unite the left, the right, the Greens and those unrepresented minorities whose voices are never heard under the theme that all levels of government, and all related agencies, must start serving the people, not just the elites,” Mulcahy said in his statement.
In an interview, Mulcahy said he believes he has a chance to win as a third-party candidate in the sprawling district because it is evenly divided between independents and voters registered with both major parties. Mulcahy is an engaging speaker who isn’t shy about taking positions, so he said he looks forward to debates with the other candidates.
The campaign has been low-key thus far because there are no primaries. Mulcahy said he would raise funds throughout the summer.
“I know I can raise more money” than the other candidates, he said. “Sadly, that’s what it takes.”
Mulcahy said he would kick the campaign up a notch after Labor Day weekend. He plans to walk and hitchhike across the district to gain name recognition outside Aspen.