Wilson the apparent winner in House District 61 contest | AspenTimes.com

Wilson the apparent winner in House District 61 contest

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Roger Wilson

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – If the numbers hold up, Democrat Roger Wilson of Glenwood Springs will be the new Colorado House District 61 representative when the 2011 state legislative session convenes in January.

Unofficial final results from the Nov. 2 election released Wednesday indicate Wilson had a sizable lead in the three-way race, based on tallies from the five counties that make up District 61.

Reports from Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle, Gunnison and Hinsdale counties gave Wilson 9,495 votes to incumbent write-in candidate Kathleen Curry’s approximately 9,000 votes. Republican Luke Korkowski of Mt. Crested Butte had 8,892 votes, according to the unofficial election results.

Wilson, a 63-year-old political newcomer who lives in Missouri Heights, said Wednesday that he wasn’t ready to declare victory just yet. But he was getting ready to drive to Denver to participate in Thursday’s House Democratic caucuses at the state Capitol.

“I am proceeding along as if I’ve won, which means I need to get over to Denver to be part of the caucus activity,” he said. “My campaign and the Democratic Party at the state level are assuming a victory right now.”

However, the final outcome of the race may depend on a court challenge from Curry’s campaign that some 1,100 to 1,300 “under votes” in the election should be reviewed and voter intent considered for any ballots where Curry’s name was written on the write-in line, but the box next to it was not filled in.

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Curry, a three-term state legislator from Gunnison, changed her party affiliation from Democrat to independent late last year, too late for her name to be included on Tuesday’s election ballot as an unaffiliated candidate.

Prior to the election, Curry filed a lawsuit in Denver District Court asking that any ballots where her name was clearly written in on the appropriate write-in line, but where the voter did not fill in the accompanying box, be counted. Judge John W. Madden is expected to rule in the case by Friday.

“That’s the issue the judge will be dealing with,” Curry said Wednesday. “The other thing we don’t know is how many provisional ballots there are that still need to be counted.”

She acknowledged, however, that the vote difference will be difficult to make up even if the questionable ballots are thrown into the mix.

“It’s a pretty steep hill to climb, frankly,” Curry said. “I don’t know if we’re going to get there from here, but we’ll come close, so we have to keep our options open and make sure all the ballots get counted.”

Meanwhile, Korkowski conceded defeat in his first run for elected office.

“Thanks for a great race,” he told supporters in an e-mail. “Though we did not win, the struggle for maintaining and increasing our freedom continues. Here’s hoping that Colorado will prosper once again. Though I will be out of the public eye, I’ll leave you with this: Never give up on freedom. Never take yourself too seriously. Always look forward with optimism.”

Curry’s write-in campaign was most successful in her home county of Gunnison and in neighboring Hinsdale County. However, she lost big to Korkowski in the portion of Garfield County that’s included in District 61, and to both Korkowski and Wilson in Pitkin and Eagle counties.

“I tried to cover the bases as much as I could to get out the vote in those counties,” Curry said. “What surprised me more, really, was the party line vote. I had hoped for more of a cross-over, but Republicans voted the ticket in Garfield County.

“Watching the returns last night, that was happening everywhere,” she said. “It was the Republican wave everyone felt from the national level down to the local races.”

jstroud@postindependent.com