Hamner running ahead of Irvine for House 61 seat | AspenTimes.com

Hamner running ahead of Irvine for House 61 seat

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

Five hours after the polls had closed in five counties, state Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Summit County, had a sizable lead over Republican challenger Debra Irvine, R-Breckenridge, in the race for the District 61 seat of the Colorado House.

Results for the race came in slowly. As of midnight, the Colorado Secretary of State's Office had only shown incomplete returns from two of the five counties the district covers either wholly or partly, and as of 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, the state was reporting totals for three of five counties.

Those returns put Hamner at 16,801 votes, or 51.8 percent, while Irvine had 14,176 votes, or 43.7 percent. A third candidate, Mac Trench, who is affiliated with the Libertarian Party, had 1,450 votes, or 4.5 percent.

Reached for comment at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Hamner said she was not ready to declare victory in her re-election bid. She said she had sent many people home from her election gathering and was preparing to go to sleep herself. She said she expected to perform well in Pitkin County, one of the counties where vote totals were incomplete.

With 6,486 votes counted in Pitkin County just after 1 a.m., Hamner had 4,028 of them, or 67.1 percent.

Before the polls closed Tuesday, Hamner assisted Summit County Democratic Party officials on their get-out-the-vote efforts.

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"All along, people looking at these races and advising me have said that I am likely to win," she said early Tuesday evening. "I have just been working hard and doing what I can to cover my bases and reach out to my constituents. Just looking at the numbers of Democrats who voted, it's looking favorable for me throughout the district."

Hamner and Irvine both were unopposed in their party primaries. Hamner ran on her record, having first won the seat in November 2012. A former school superintendent, she has touted her knowledge of state and local education issues and support for efforts to bring more financial stability to beleaguered school systems.

In debates and forums throughout election season, Irvine has taken a pro-business, anti-regulation stance and attempted to paint Hamner as a tax-and-spend liberal. She has railed against Hamner's votes in favor of gun-control measures.

Hamner has responded that "gun safety," not gun control, has been necessary. The Colorado General Assembly enacted several measures involving firearms last year in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting and the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting.

"I can stand on my record and four years of successful legislation," she said. "My opponent didn't have that. I have a lot to be proud of."

Hamner also spoke of how she has taken a bipartisan approach to her dealings with fellow legislators.

"I know how to work well with other people," she said. "I think that's what people want and expect from their representatives. They want somebody who doesn't polarize issues and who can try to find compromise and bring solutions together. That's my strength."

Prior to winning the District 61 seat in late 2012, Hamner was appointed to the House District 56 seat by the state Democratic Central Committee when incumbent Christine Scanlan resigned from the seat to join Gov. John Hickenlooper's new administration. Irvine unsuccessfully ran for the House District 56 seat in 2010, losing to Scanlan.

The residences of both Hamner and Irvine were redrawn into District 61 during the December 2011 redistricting process in the state Legislature. Today, the district takes in eastern Delta County, the northern half of Gunnison County and all of Pitkin, Summit and Lake counties.

In the 2012 race, which included five candidates, Hamner finished well ahead of Irvine, taking 47.4 percent of the vote to Irvine's 34.1 percent.

andre@aspentimes.com

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