WEDNESDAY UPDATE #2: As a Pols reader points out in the comments below, Curry may have missed the deadline to run for re-election as an “Unaffiliated” candidate — meaning she could only run in 2010 as a write-in candidate.
WEDNESDAY UPDATE: No election deals for Rep. Curry, Dems will recruit a candidate, and according to the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, maybe no caucusing with Dems either?
[T]he chair of the state Democratic Party, Pat Waak, said in an e-mail to the Post Independent, “We have always welcomed diversity in the Democratic party so we are saddened that Rep. Curry has found it necessary to change her party affiliation. In keeping with our general policy, we will recruit a Democrat for each of the seats for the 2010 election.”
Curry herself was not so sure she will be caucusing with the Democrats, pointing out that that is where they work out intra-party issues and conflicts and she is no longer in the party.
“I don’t know,” she said when asked about the caucusing issue. “If they invited me, I might. I can’t imagine that they would invite me.”
We’ve learned that Democratic state Rep. Kathleen Curry will shortly announce she is disaffiliating from her party and going independent, the latest example of what might be called the “Western Slope Two-Step” after a similar recent move by La Plata County commissioner Joelle Riddle–not to mention the famous defection of U.S. Senator Ben “Nighthorse” Campbell of Ignacio from the Dems to the GOP in the 1990s.
Relations between Curry and Democratic leadership reportedly broke down over legislation she intends to co-sponsor with GOP Rep. Ellen Roberts next session: a very nasty bill, crafted by the insurance industry, that would impose a moratorium on any new legislated health coverage requirements of the kind that have passed in recent years. Curry’s sponsorship was seen as improper bipartisan cover for Roberts on a bill with significant political import, and Roberts is likely to be a major front in the GOP’s strategy to recapture the state senate next year.
There does seem to be some pent-up emotion behind the spat, but despite a split with leadership, there is an interest in preserving friendly relations with Curry on the part of many Democrats as she remains a reliable–or at least persuadable–vote on a range of issues.
UPDATE: Denver Post now confirming what you heard first here on Colorado Pols:
State Rep. Kathleen Curry has changed her voter registration from Democrat to unaffiliated, a move that will require the Gunnison lawmaker to relinquish her positions as speaker pro tem and chairwoman of the House Agriculture Committee.
Curry said she made the change Monday after talking to House Speaker Terrance Carroll, who had appointed Curry to the plum pro tem position.
Curry, a rancher and water expert, said her decision was not based on any single bill, action or person.
“It’s just a matter of where I fit,” she said Tuesday. “But I’m not changing my personality overnight just because I filled out a form. I’m still going to vote my conscience, which the majority of time is with the Democrats.”
…Curry registered as an unaffiliated voter too late to run as one in next year’s election. Curry said she had already planned to introduce legislation next year making it easier for those who switch to unaffiliated to get on the ballot. The bill would reduce the time a person needs to be unaffiliated to run as one.
But Curry said she probably is going to have to run as a write-in candidate, which she admitted isn’t an easy feat.