Pueblo enters political space following re-termination, time constraints | News

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  Pueblo enters political space following re-termination, time constraints |  News

In addition to losing two decades of legislative experience between its two representatives, including a half-dozen years in leadership, Pueblo County faces what a Democrat operative describes as a “puzzling” conundrum – getting cut up into different pieces.

The Colorado Supreme Court is about to rule on a redistricting map drawn by the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission that gives Pueblo County, home to House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar and Senate President Leroy Garcia, four state House seats, instead of the current three.

“I’m not sure what they were thinking when they drew these House districts. They don’t make sense. Why break up Pueblo County like this?” he said. “I’m concerned what these final maps will mean for the candidates.”

Dennis Obduskey, communications director for the Pueblo Democratic Party and a vice-chair for HD46 and SD3 Dems, found the new House maps puzzling, although he also noted that, for once, Pueblo County is wholly contained within SD3.

Story Highlights

  • That’s only the start of Pueblo County’s political quandary.

  • Nobody, it appears, is happy about it.

New maps, new scramble

House District 46, Esgar’s seat, is squarely within Pueblo city limits. So far, one candidate, Democrat Ralph O’Neal, is listed for that seat. Another candidate, Democrat Nick Hinrichsen, originally filed for that same seat, but the new map put him into HD 62, and he withdrew his candidacy. Instead, Hinrichsen, whose wife, Bri Buentello, represented HD47 in the 2019-2020 sessions, is running for Senate District 3.

Rep. Don Valdez, D-La Jara, currently represents HD 46, but he hopes to challenge U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Silt, in Congressional District 3. Should he end up winning a Democratic primary for Congress, he won’t run for a fourth and final term in the state House. Democrat Robert Dimick, Jr. of Jaroso in Costilla County is so far the only candidate who filed for HD 62. His campaign contributions to date – $1,109 – have all come from outside of Colorado.

Meanwhile, HD 60, now represented by Rep. Ron Hanks, R-Canon City, currently does not include any portion of Pueblo County during the last decade. The new map, however, grabs a small section of Pueblo County, notably the north end of the Pueblo West metro district.

More notably, it also includes all of Fremont County, which puts Hanks and Rep. Stephanie Luck, R-Penrose, into the same House district. Luck’s district, HD 47, previously included Penrose, Pueblo West and then east to Otero County, including Rocky Ford and LaJunta. The new map, however, starts in eastern Pueblo County, with the southern half of Pueblo West, and goes to the Kansas state line.

A partisan consensus Obduskey isn’t the only one perturbed over how the maps got drawn.

Hanks, who is seeking the Republican bid for U.S. Senate in 2022, hasn’t filed to run for re-election to his House seat. Luck isn’t listed as a candidate for re-election, either. HD 47 will be an open seat in 2022, and so far, no candidate has filed for it, according to TRACER, the state’s campaign finance website.