Schwartz claims seat in state Senate
November 8, 2006
Democrat Gail Schwartz declared herself the winner in the tightly contested Colorado Senate District 5 race Tuesday, although the incumbent, Republican Sen. Lewis Entz of Hooper, refused to concede.
“I think it’s real close. I haven’t got the figures yet,” Entz said well after midnight. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow morning.”
“I’ve won,” Schwartz said simply. “It’s tight, but it doesn’t matter if it’s one vote or 1,012.”
That number, according to the Schwartz campaign, was the margin of victory. Her campaign workers, working with numbers reported directly from the offices of 11 county clerks in the district, had Schwartz polling 24,352 and Entz with 23,340.
According to the Rocky Mountain News, as of 1 a.m., Schwartz was ahead by 23,767 to Entz’s 23,183, with 112 of the district’s 114 precincts reporting.
The race was a close one all night, with Entz holding the lead as late as shortly before midnight, according to Associated Press election reports and other information.
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But Schwartz and her staff credited the Pitkin County turnout with the margin of victory. Pitkin County voters went overwhelmingly for Schwartz, who lives in Snowmass Village, by a margin of 5,227 (81 percent) to 1,229 (19 percent), according to unofficial final numbers from the Pitkin County clerk’s office.
“I want to thank Pitkin County,” Schwartz said, “because Pitkin County rallied with support that has been unprecedented, because they knew they wanted a senator to represent them and not write them off.”
She also noted she received significant support from other parts of the district, including Delta County, where she polled 4,248 to Entz’s 6,756; in Chaffee County, where Entz beat her by only eight votes, 3,657 to 3,649; and particularly in Gunnison County, where Schwartz outpolled the incumbent by 3,798 to 2,217.
For the Gunnison County vote, Schwartz said, “I want to thank [State Rep.] Kathleen Curry,” who campaigned on Schwartz behalf, as did other Democrats including U.S. Rep. John Salazar and his brother, U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar.
The “database manager” for Schwartz’s campaign, outgoing Pitkin County Commissioner Mick Ireland, said of Entz’s refusal to concede, “He’s just stunned. They were pretty dismissive of her, and then in the last couple of weeks they rallied with a pretty negative campaign against her. And it cost him.”
Ireland said another critical factor in the Pitkin County turnout was Entz’s sponsorship of a bill in the Legislature, at the behest of Pitkin County landowner Peter Droste, opponents said was aimed at diluting county land-use controls across Colorado.
“That really motivated local voters,” Ireland said.
Schwartz, tired from the campaign and a long election day, stressed, “I only ran a positive campaign. And I will represent everyone in the district with integrity.”
John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org