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Salazar: Think about November

Before Democrats vote in the Aug. 10 primary in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race, Ken Salazar wants them to think about the November election.

Salazar, who has held top administrative posts in Colorado state government and won statewide elected office, has been hammering the point in the primary battle that he has a better shot at beating the Republican candidate in November.

Salazar and Mike Miles are battling for the Democratic nod in the race. On the Republican side, Peter Coors and Bob Schaffer are squaring off.

Salazar said his “electability” is one of the reasons Democrats should pick him over Miles. He was elected state attorney general in 1998 and re-elected in 2002. He served under former Gov. Roy Romer as executive director of the Department of Natural Resources, and headed the campaign to create Great Outdoors Colorado, the program that contributes funds to open space acquisition, trails development and other projects.

As a fifth-generation rancher in the San Luis Valley, he believes his rural Colorado values make the state’s voters comfortable. He has cultivated that rural image throughout his campaign by wearing a white cowboy hat and cowboy boots.

His longtime participation in Democratic Party politics has earned him the support of most of the state establishment, but Miles has reaped widespread grassroots support. Miles pulled an upset at the state party assembly in May by earning a slight majority of delegate votes.

That spurred Salazar to stress the stakes of the race. Colorado’s Senate race has been identified as one of the pivotal contests in the country because incumbent Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell is stepping down. Democrats are desperate to gain a majority in the Senate this year.

As a senator, Salazar said he would champion the issues of providing quality education, finding solutions to health care, and protecting the nation’s land and water.

He is a big supporter of public schools. Ensuring quality education through public schools is a cornerstone of a successful society, he said.

He supports federally mandated programs like No Child Left Behind but claims they are unnecessarily punitive, saying the federal government cannot mandate state action without anteing up funds.

He also could accept federal mandates on school tests, as long as results are used to identify areas where schools need to improve, not to penalize them.

Salazar would use federal tax credits to try to lower health care costs. Small businesses would get a tax credit for providing coverage for their employees. He would support expanding children’s health insurance programs for low-income families and would support tax credits for middle-income parents to encourage them to purchase health insurance for their children.

Salazar said the Senate should vote to lift bans on importation of prescription drugs from Canada.

He is emphasizing protection of water and the environment in his campaign materials. When asked if environmental groups would see him as a champion of their causes, Salazar responded, “I see myself as a champion of the environment, but on my own terms.”

As attorney general, he has pushed to prosecute companies that pollute the air and water. He would promote that direction as a senator and vote to restore the budget and enforcement authority to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Salazar also supports actively promoting open space preservation through purchases and conservation easements.

More information about his campaign can be found at his Web site: http://www.salazarforcolorado.com.


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