Saturday, March 24, 2012

Local GOP surprises some incumbents; Dems will contest HD 17

Posted By on Sat, Mar 24, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Sallie Clark still is on the ballot, but her Republican challenger obviously has support as well.
  • File photo
  • Sallie Clark still is on the ballot, but her Republican challenger obviously has support as well.

County Commissioner Sallie Clark and veteran state lawmakers Larry Liston and Amy Stephens found out Saturday that their years in elected office won’t guarantee them anything in the 2012 primary election on June 26.

At the local Republicans’ county assembly, at Liberty High School, Clark lost the top ballot position for the GOP primary in her bid for a third term in Commissioner District 3 to rookie challenger Karen Magistrelli. Also, after serving the limit of four terms in the state House, Liston was out-voted Saturday in his bid for top billing in a state Senate race by Owen Hill, who never has served in public office.

And in the House race between two incumbents pitted against each other by reapportionment, House Majority Leader Stephens of Monument lost the top primary ballot position to Rep. Marsha Looper of Calhan by a slim margin.

Meanwhile, highlighting the Democrats’ county assembly at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, delegates were surprised to learn that the party will challenge Republican state Rep. Mark Barker in an effort to regain the House District 17 seat that Barker won in 2010.

Tony Exum Sr., a retired local firefighter who ran unsuccessfully for a City Council at-large position last year, and who had previously declined local Dems' overtures to run in HD 17, stepped up. Exum made the decision late in the week after meeting with party officials. When he was introduced Saturday by state Rep. Pete Lee, the delegates greeted Exum with a standing ovation.

Other Republican incumbents fared better: County Commissioner Amy Lathen soundly defeated challenger Phil McDonald, who will now have to petition onto the ballot. Commissioner Dennis Hisey prevailed over Auddie Cox. State Rep. Janak Joshi also won by a large margin over challenger Mike Garner for a House seat.

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