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Army veteran kicks off campaign, seeking to become first Republican to win House District 50 since 2002
Greeley Tribune - 6/30/2018
June 30--Citing a vision to take Denver's influence out of Greeley, Evans and Garden City, Colorado House District 50 candidate Michael Thuener launched his fight Friday to become the first Republican to win the seat since 2002.
Thuener, a U.S. Army veteran, said in a campaign kickoff event hosted Friday evening at Santeramo's Pizza House, 1229 10th Ave., he wants to better represent the district
"We got through the primaries, and now we can all work together to take this district back for us," Thuener told a gathering of supporters that included Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley; Rep. Hugh McKean, R-Loveland; Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor; Republican Weld County Commissioner District 2 candidate Scott James, Evans Fire District President Mary Achziger and a handful of former elected officials.
He later added: "My push on this is to be able to take the voice for you, from District 50, up to the Capitol instead of letting Denver tell us what we need."
During the Nov. 6 general election, Thuener, who did not have a Republican opponent in Tuesday's primary election, will face Democrat Rochelle Galindo, a former Greeley City Councilwoman. She won the Democratic primary 58.1 percent to 41.8 percent over former House District 50 Rep. Jim Riesberg.
One of Galindo's visions for the seat -- to reflect the people of Greeley, Evans and Garden City -- is not so different from Thuener's. They just have a different idea of what that looks like in House District 50.
"It's really about, for me, being a representative for the entire district," Thuener said. "I think, too often, we get stuck into the party politics. I do feel that the Republican party is a better representation of what this district has, our shared values."
He said his priorities heading into the race are to make sure House District 50 doesn't get left behind during statehouse discussions about transportation, give more power to local school boards to improve education and defend Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, something, he said, current House District 50 Rep. Dave Young is fighting against.
"We will not be able to recognize the state in a few years if (TABOR) gets overturned," he said. "We must have someone up there that understands that the government serves at the consent of the governed."
On a local level, he said he thinks the oil and gas industry can be a good neighbor to Weld County residents.
The last time a Republican ran a successful campaign for House District 50 was in 2002, when former Rep. Tambor Williams won a bid for re-election. After that, the district has experienced a steady stream of Democrats, all the way to Young, who is term-limited and won the Democratic primary in the race for Colorado state treasurer.
For Thuener, the path toward being a House District 50 got off to a late start.
He stepped in as a Republican candidate after U.S. Air Force veteran and owner of Christian Brothers Automotive Jeff Sloan dropped out of the race, citing a conflict between running his business -- and for office -- simultaneously.
Thuener said momentum in his campaign since then has been steady.
-- Sara Knuth covers government for The Tribune. You can reach her at (970) 392-4412, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SaraKnuth.
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