Retired DOW employees endorse Udall | AspenTimes.com

Retired DOW employees endorse Udall

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

A coalition of about 70 retired Colorado Division of Wildlife employees have endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Mark Udall. He is running against Bob Schaffer, a former congressman from Fort Collins, to replace U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo.

A letter signed by the DOW retirees, which includes some Republicans and several from the Western Slope, said that an evaluation of the two candidates’ records and statements led them to support Udall.

That evaluation focused on the two candidates’ records and positions over “hunting, angling and the constitutional right to bear arms,” but that it “primarily considered management of federal lands and protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat.”

“It is our objective to ensure that the future of wildlife resources, the traditions of hunting, angling and the right to bear arms are protected,” the letter said. “Election of Mark Udall as United States senator from Colorado will be a very important step in accomplishing this objective.”

Included in that group, which has about 2,000 years of cumulative experience at the DOW, are John Mumma, of Durango, and Perry Olson, of Englewood ” two former directors of the agency. Also endorsing Udall is John Seidel, a former area wildlife manager for the DOW. Eddie Kochman, the DOW’s former aquatic wildlife manager, helped organize the letter.

John Smeltzer, who retired as assistant director of field operations from DOW in 2004 and who is a registered Republican, said he is going to vote for the John McCain-Sarah Palin presidential ticket, but that he plans to cast his ballot for Mark Udall in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race.

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“The thing that sells me more than anything else, is that (Udall) actually has active staff out there working to interact with sportsmen, anglers and hunters on a ongoing basis,” said Smeltzer, who signed the letter supporting Udall. “I have not heard anything from the other candidate in regards to any issue related to sportsmen. In that regard, Representative Udall is showing great interest, very specific interest, in hunting and angling issues in the state.”

The group of DOW retirees also endorsed Udall because of his support for “responsible development of oil and gas on public lands, and that “he believes the 2nd Amendment is an individual right to bear arms for recreational shooting and gun collecting.”

But Dick Wadhams, a spokesman for Schaffer’s campaign, said if members of the retirees’ decided that gun rights is one of the reasons why they support Udall, they are going to “very disappointed in him” if they take a harder look at his record.

“He has a very miserable record when it comes to gun rights, according to the National Rifle Association,” Wadhams said. “He essentially has been a toady for the anti-gun lobby. It is unfortunate that (the group) has not taken a harder look at his record.”

pyates@postindependent.com

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