Karl Hanlon wins Senate District 8 Democratic primary
DILLON — Karl Hanlon easily defeated opponent Arn Menconi to win the Democratic primary for Senate District 8 with 57% of the vote as of 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Hanlon announced his run in early March for the Senate District 8 seat, which represents Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties in the Colorado Legislature. Hanlon is an attorney and rancher who resides in Carbondale with his family. He is active in several District 8 communities, serving as a legal representative for the town of Silverthorne, the city of Glenwood Springs, the Aspen Fire Protection District and as general council for the Grand Junction Regional Airport.
In a June interview with the Summit Daily News, Hanlon said he is “fighting for rural Colorado” and listed climate change, health insurance options, workforce housing and the protection of public lands as some of the issues he wants to address in District 8. In addition, Hanlon listed helping working families, public health and reproductive freedom as priorities on his campaign website.
On Tuesday night, Hanlon said his next move is to get out and talk with people around the district, although the pandemic means that will happen in smaller groups. Hanlon said he enjoys going out and hearing people’s stories and connecting with people where they’re at.
“Something that most politicians don’t do is really understand where people are coming from and where they’re at in their lives,” Hanlon said. “And going out and having those conversations, I think, is the most rewarding part of this.”
Hanlon said he wants to focus on looking forward and that he believes rural Colorado has been told to look back for too long. He said he thinks the diversity of opinions and thoughts is “what makes rural Colorado so great” and that he hopes to be inclusive in approaching people’s different viewpoints.
When asked what he would do first if elected, Hanlon said the current economic situation COVID-19 has created has highlighted that there needs to be reform to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights amendment, which he said he would work to tackle. He said the revenue cap needs to be changed as it has decreased the amount of available reserves that could have helped with the crisis.
Colorado voters soundly rejected a ballot measure in November 2019 that would have let the state keep any tax revenue above the state spending cap — money that the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights currently guarantees as refunds to taxpayers. Democrats said it wasn’t a tax increase while Republicans argued it effectively was.
An opinion piece Hanlon submitted to the Summit Daily in June discussed the hardships rural Colorado communities and businesses are facing from the COVID-19 shutdown and subsequent revenue losses. Hanlon pointed out how towns and counties have worked to help residents through grants and funding, and he listed some of the funding provided at the federal level.
“While this is a start, to be blunt, it is not enough,” Hanlon said in the submitted piece. “What we need in our state senator is not someone rooted in the past, beholden to special interests and blind to creative solutions from tax reform to economic development. What we need is someone with deep roots in this district, real experience on the ground and the vision to see that the crisis we face today will not be solved by looking back, but instead by looking forward.”
Hanlon’s opponent Menconi carried only Summit County with 51% of the vote.
“I would like to thank all my supporters for the incredible movement we built in 2020,” Menconi wrote in a text message. “It’s clear the future wants the green new deal. Being outspent 4-to-1 in dollars, I am grateful for my volunteer team who delivered the difference with their values and passion for climate and social justice!”
Menconi declined to discuss the loss over the phone.
Hanlon will go on to face Republican incumbent Bob Rankin in the November general election.
“I’m really excited to be the nominee for the party and looking forward to what’s going to be a tough campaign, but I think one (where) there are a lot of really important issues out there to talk about in SD8 that aren’t getting addressed, and I think that’s going to become clear over the course of the campaign,” Hanlon said.
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