Rogers: Campaign trail turns … tricky

Aspen Times editor Don Rogers

The sheriff’s race continues playing out like a car crash you can’t not watch, the partisans so intent on a “credible” video of a guy riding a bike in a parking lot scattered with the aspen leaves when Breitbart’s big scoop on Adam Frisch fell apart like all their scoops do, and could someone please ask the candidates in Snowmass to wake up long enough to at least pretend they’re interested?

Somewhere out there, former Pres. Donald Trump was aggrieved at Republican Senate hopeful Joe O’Dea before his ire shifted to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for endorsing O’Dea. So Colorado hasn’t been completely overlooked, then.

And it seems every high-country municipality and county has a bone or two to pick with short-term rentals gone amok, or is it the sudden impulse to tax the crap out of them as scapegoat for everything that’s gone wrong, wrong, wrong while the pandemic storm finally breaks? It has broken, right?

I left Colorado and came back half a dozen years later to find this state still stuck on whether grocery stores can sell real beer and booze, with three initiatives on the ballot this fall. I’m a “No,” but only for my own silly laziness leading to better drinking habits for lack of being able pick up that case with my veggies like I could in California. There, blank puzzlement greets the arcane serious reasoning for keeping alcohol in special stores. Every supermarket has aisles and aisles for wine alone.

Meantime, I’ve already made a date with my counterpart at the Daily News for Nov. 9. We’re meeting for drinks, maybe lots of drinks, at the Beer Place in Carbondale, I think. Already it doesn’t take much to get me there. A run up Three Gulch to Blue Ribbon to Mushroom Rock. A drive to the grocery store.


We live, we learn. I have extra empathy these days for candidates angry at the myths and mischaracterizations and sometimes outright lies others tell.

Political campaigns are tough this way, even the clean ones. The stakes bring out our best and worst, no question. Someone wins, and someone loses. Period. How you get there demands more of you than maybe you can quite live up to.

How do you handle the inevitable slings and arrows when critics redefine you, what you do, and what you in your own heart stand for? Outside of perhaps Snowmass Village or retaining a judgeship, this is just part of the well-worn campaign trail whether running for council or Congress.

Kelly McNicholas Kury finally boiled over at election rival Erin Smiddy commenting throughout their race about the incumbent having it too easy, mainly with housing, since arriving in Aspen. Of course a profile I wrote last week had to trigger it. Oops.

If I were Kury’s campaign manager, which I’m not, I’d counsel from a certain distance to go with humor over hot temper in my one candidate column of the season. And for Smiddy not to go there at all.

But I’m generally a cool to cold soul, and it occurs to me only now that we do want to see passion and even some fire in our leaders, admit it or not. Their columns last week at least brought a personal element to their race, a flash of real heat, one more data point for any voters still deciding.

I’ve had similar frustration with Kury and her colleagues and coterie mischaracterizing what happened last spring and early summer at The Times before I began. Put most simply, the only actual bruising of the First Amendment I saw came from local government. I have found myself bubbling a bit when I’ve heard or read what I know isn’t the full truth and obviously so, at least to me. And to think I have some distance here, too. Otherwise I’d be fully embroiled, I’m sure.

OK, well, so maybe I’m not so cool or collected as my conceit would have it. I can better understand why people who put themselves out there for public service and scrutiny might lose their tempers from time to time at what they view as pure, cussed unfairness. This is hard stuff.

Even in sleepy Snowmass. Which, yes, I know, isn’t so sleepy as I’m making out.

Aspen Times Editor Don Rogers can be reached at