Douglas County Republicans lock horns in dispute over commissioner seat

In an unusual development that has exposed a rift among Republicans in what is one of Colorado’s reddest counties, lame-duck Commissioner Diane Holbert this week rebuffed a request by a colleague to step down to make room for the GOP candidate who is running for her seat this November.

The request by Commissioner Lora Thomas that Holbert temporarily return to her role as Douglas County treasurer to free up her seat for Abe Laydon, who won the June 26 GOP primary for that race, was made Tuesday at the commissioners’ meeting.

The suggestion was shot down immediately by Holbert, a Republican who was chosen commissioner by party officials in April after David Weaver left the board to become U.S. marshal for the District of Colorado.

“I was duly elected through the vacancy process — I am not a temporary commissioner,” Holbert said at the meeting. “It’s not a unique or temporary type one-off situation.”

Holbert lost to Laydon last month in the primary and Thomas said that election — where nearly 20,000 residents chose Laydon as the nominee as opposed to the 200 or so votes Holbert got from the Republican vacancy committee two months earlier — more genuinely reflects who the electorate wants.

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The dispute has raised questions about whether Thomas’ move was politics at its rawest — an attempt to get a commissioner to step down half a year early so that the party’s nominee could assume the post, build up name recognition and have an easier go of it in the general election.

“It was an unfortunate use of political power,” Holbert said. “I am serving an elected office, and I’m not a temporary commissioner put in place until the primary.”

Holbert had served as Douglas County’s treasurer for more than seven years before becoming a commissioner.

Thomas denies that her request was politically charged, saying instead that it was a pragmatic attempt to get Douglas County’s likely next commissioner — Douglas County leans heavily Republican — up to speed on the job so he can start forming the relationships that are critical to making the county tick.

“I recognize that Diane has the legal right to sit in that seat until January — but I’m looking at the voice of the people who elected Abe (on June 26),” Thomas said. “Diane is just marking time. That’s why these six months are critical to allowing Mr. Laydon to start building that expertise.”

Laydon will face Democrat Mary Lynch in November.

Douglas County Republican Party chairwoman Tanne Blackburn said she’s never heard of a Colorado commissioner asking a colleague to step down early — even if that commissioner’s days were numbered. And she doesn’t like the idea.

“We follow the …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Politics


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