Kathleen Curry Goes “I”

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.


114 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Middle of the Road says:

    do you happen to have a link to the insurance industry legislation mentioned above? I’d like to read more about that.  

    • ohwilleke says:

      with the sponsoring legislator’s permission until it is introduced.  Typically, that might involve key representatives of interested parties (particularly potential backers), committee chairs on relevant committees, and party leadership.  Clearly, someone leaked this issue despite Curry having thought that the person was in a small confidential group of pre-reviewers.

      Legislators get five bills of their own per year (plus certain “special” bills), and typically have to have most of them drafted with the help of legislative legal services by December, so it isn’t crushed by the last minute rush.

      • dmindgo says:

        Thanks for the link.  It’s incredible … Roberts is going to co-sponsor this bill which seems like a complete sell-out to insurance companies.  She doesn’t think those companies should cover mammograms, HPV immunization, autism coverage it would seem from this bill.  Of course, it won’t reverse that coverage but prevent any future new mandates.  That seems it would be called a vote in the statehouse.  If new mandates are introduced, they lose on the vote.  Introducing a moratorium (for one year only) seems ineffective showboating for the insurers.  This is stunning to me.  What are Roberts and Curry really thinking?  And how can they be so politically deaf?

  2. ohwilleke says:

    Curry is Speaker pro tempore in the House, and serves as the Chair of the Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources Committee.  The posts are both conferred by the party leadership.  And she is a part of the leadership she is purportedly feuding with.

    Will she forfeit those posts by reaffiliating as an independent?

    Given the Democrats’ secure majority in the state house, where parliamentary rules allow a majority to rule, Curry has nowhere near that bargaining position that Lieberman or Ben Nighthorse Campbell did at the federal level.  Similarly, on a county commission, partisan identity doesn’t really matter, because it is so small and because so many issues are non-partisan or personal, rather than partisan.

    Given the stakes in a party change, and the relative unimportance of the issue (co-sponsorship of a bill that hasn’t even been introduced yet), when she could simply vote and speak for the bill without co-sponsoring it and get the same effect.  With or without a co-sponsorship, she isn’t on the committees that one would expect to handle the legislation (Business Affairs or Health).  Few legislators are so committed to co-sponsorship of a bill in an area where they aren’t even on the relevant committee.

    I have real doubts that this party change will happen for the reasons suggested.  If there is a party switch, it will be driven by re-election prospects with a D label, not a co-sponsorship.  Or, perhaps, there are really many matters upon which she has been overruled by leadership and this is just the most recent of them.

    The bill content also seems fishy.  No legislature can bind a future legislature, and referrendums require two-third support.  The subject matter also seems likely to be pre-empted by federal health care reforms anyway.

    In short, I doubt this rumor and doubt that we have the full story either.

    • ThillyWabbit says:

      It’s a one-year moratorium on the enforcement of coverage mandates that have yet to pass. Basically it’s just a big ass bazooka shot at Morgan Carroll’s efforts to ban gender rating and other abusive practices.

      • gyrogyrl says:

        gender-rating is not a mandate – its a rating adjustment factor……maternity coverage bill this session could be affected though.

      • ohwilleke says:

        Any way you cut it, this sounds like a matter of legislative procedure, a superbill that would govern what other bills could do.

        I had read “one year moritorium” to mean that no new mandates would be passed in the 2010 legislative session, given the context (I suppose that would make it a joint legislative rule, like a federal budget bill, rather than a bill purporting to bind future legislative sessions), but that still seems like an odd approach.

    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      I find this puzzling as she is one of the D’s brightest stars.  

    • Ray SpringfieldRay Springfield says:

      It sounds to me like fear of a Republican sweep.

      As a Democrat, I certainly would not want to see this happen. Democrats benefit from Mr.Maes beng in the Republican race. The Governor is tough. Any DA in Denver for the length of time he served knows how to play hardball. The State House is a different beast.  The economy is critical.The Consumer Confidence index hit 53 (50 is neutral)today.The economy may yet rally.

      I don’t see how an independent could maintain a leadership roll.

      Perhaps her tea leaves in her district tell her that she needs to distance herself.

      I think that you are correct that we don’t have the full story.  

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:


        The Governor is tough. Any DA in Denver for the length of time he served knows how to play hardball.

        Ritter was appointed DA in mid-term, and only faced retention elections in a city more than 2-1 Democrat.  He had virtually no opposition for the nomination after bigtger names withdrew.  He beat Bob Beauprez, which is kind of like beating the Detroit Lions.  This is thus his first real test of an election.  I think he has a decent record and intend to support him, but his record of DA in Denver is no test of his ability to win a tough election.    

        • Jambalaya says:

          ….maybe, the Buccaneers?  (wait, do they play football?)

        • Automaticftp says:

          AR also, save the appointed part.  Being elected in HD6 is no test of his ability to win a tough election.

        • Ray SpringfieldRay Springfield says:

          As you mentioned, he wasn’t the party’s first choice for Governor. He manuevered well. I’m talking about instincts. I think that he will win this race.The Governor has demonstrated self interest which some people may criticize.

          A DA has to put a lot of people away. He has to be mentally tough to do a good job. I think that he did. An example: His introduction of the drug court took some heat, but I think was the right approach.

          I believe that Congress may well move to work on a jobs bill ASAP. The Colorado unemployment rate is lower than in other regions.

          In the last election, the pendulum swung heavily in the Governors’ favor after the Beaprez campaign had problems with inappropriate disclosure of material. The Governodr did move quickly on that, and the momentum stayed with him.

          Perhaps we are talking about 2 8-8 teams playing each other rather than the Lions.

          I like the latest Coloradopols line.  

  3. Lauren Bacall says:

    Why do you call the bill “nasty” and why is her co-sponsorship perceived as improper?  A party split over one bill?  Has to be more than that.  I look forward to her explanation.  

  4. dmindgo says:

    That is the problem Riddle has.  You can’t run for a party unless you’ve been a member for a year or the party waives the requirement.  Independent is not a party so to get on the ballot you have to have been an independent for a year or more.  Riddle is going to have to run a write-in campaign to be re-elected.  I’m not familiar with it, but it seems that the same rules apply for state legislative elections.


    This is often referred to, in the scientific parlance, as cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  5. gertie97 says:

    From the same “sources” who told you Penry would be the lite gov?

  6. paulrosenthal says:

    She could have switched altogether.  Actually, this probably helps the Dems by making the party look like it is a big tent, that it will even include I or U or however that will work with Curry’s new affiliation since there is no Independent Party.

  7. WestSloper says:

    Someone must have misheard a women’s washroom conversation between flushes, because it’s inconceivable that anyone would want to purposely damage Rep. Curry’s reputation through rumors.

    Although Curry is THAT kind of woman – you know, those outspoken, sharp and tenacious types who think they know a thing or two, the 2010 election is still a long ways off, so it can’t be the Republicans who want to pick on her right now.

    Hello, like who cares about a woman from Nowhere, Western Slope anyway? Curry’s titles hold little legislative power, so no political adversary is going to bother with a silly innuendo.

    And all those new oil and gas regulations that Curry sponsored, why, it really didn’t mean a thing to the oil and gas industry. They wouldn’t stoop to spreading gossip about Curry. No siree.

    Yep, the more I think about it, the more I believe there was a bad echo in that restroom.

  8. WesternSlopeThought says:

    “It’s just a matter of where I fit”.  That is as shallow an excuse as they come.  Why couldn’t she “fit” right where she was?  And what are her chances as a write-in candidate?  Will D’s mount a run for her seat?  Or was there some deal made?  There are too many unanswered questions at this point for me to make a personal judgement.

    I have respect for Curry.  Or, at least I did.  But if she turns out to be another Joe Lieberman, she’ll be right up there with Josh Penry as the most despised politician in Colorado.

  9. WestSloper says:

    But I guess I’ll have to eat my words.

    Needless to say, District 61 Democrats need to call Curry and Dem leadership to ask “WTF happened?”

  10. One Queer Dude says:

       Did everyone notice when she changed her affiliation?  Less than a year before Nov. ’10 election.  As the Post article noted, she can’t run as an unaffiliated and will be stuck running for re-election (assuming she chooses to run) as a write-in candidate.

      As Peggy Lamm found out the hard way, spelling counts when running as a write-in candidate.  Is it Curry?  Or Currey?  Or Currie?

  11. Technically, as a Republican, I should be celebrating this move as this district is definitely in play now, with Curry potentially fracturing the vote

    And for what it’s worth, Rep Curry has my respect, as she has deep convictions and has really taken it strong against the oil companies (sheesh, do they hate her….)

    That said… this is really wrong

    Curry’s district partially touches Eagle and I know a lot of Democratic activists here who really did a lot to put Curry into office – I feel deeply sorry for them – this is the biggest slap in the face you can have as an activist

    • JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

      But I agree with you completely.

      Here’s another thing I never thought I would say: thank God for Pat Waak! I don’t know what’s up with the House leadership but they should have had the fortitude to call this for what it is, their euphemisms to the Post sound really weak by comparison.

      Pols, can we get more information about this “anti Morgan Carroll” act? I think Democrats need to understand that bill in more detail, and I also want an explanation from Curry for why she would cosponsor it. What I know of it suggests that it is written to electorally antagonize Democrats for our recent success re: health care coverage in Colorado and has zero chance of passage – and that’s reason enough, IMO, to draw a line in the sand with the Democratic speaker pro tempore.

    • Car 31 says:

      Your concern for the activists is touching, I guess. You really feel that if the activists who went out and knocked on doors for Curry would abandon her like fickle teenagers just because she went “I”?

      Let the volunteers fight for someone who knows how to get things done instead of a new freshman handpicked by party leaders.

      Let ’em figure out that fighting for Curry would be better than supporting a D candidate that will lose and then they have nothing.

      • …as far as I’m concerned, Curry abandoned them (activists) like a ‘fickle’ teenager

        two sides to every coin, dude….

        • Dan WillisDan Willis says:

          People who work on campaigns have a whole bagful of their own reasons for doing so, but they are typically fighting for partisan reasons, at least is part.

          If my representative were to change party after volunteers from his old party worked hard to get him elected, I would be really hacked at him. Maybe even enough to run against him in the next election.

          (It’s OK Joe, I know you’re not leaving us!)

  12. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    And the next step is she is the Republican candidate for that seat? If that is her plan, then this all makes sense including the “oh my, as it’s under a year I have to go Republican.”

    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      See Dmindgo’s thoughtful links.  It would seem that the one year requirement (the deadline was actually about June 15) leaves only the write-in option.  Don’t worry about whether they spell the name right, as long as you can discern voter intent.   But a write-in is damn near impossible.   I’m putting this seat in the R column in 2010.

    • dmindgo says:

      and according to the Herald article, the Dems can change their rules and reinstate her.  That’s the deal with Riddle and I think the same or similar will be true for Curry / Currie / Curie / Curia / Curious / Clamorous.

      This is a very weird response by her to whatever is going on.  Riddle did those actions with no forethought and it looks the same for Curry.  Plus, riddle’s pique seems to have been stirred by insider conversations, not by any Central Committee actions or such.  For both of them, this is probably a politically suicidal act; too bad because they have so much to offer the party and the state.

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        Riddle, who disaffiliated from the Democratic Party on Aug. 21, learned too late that Colorado law requires candidates to be affiliated, or nonaffiliated, for at least a year before they can petition to be on the ballot. The deadline Riddle missed was June 15, leaving her only the option of being a write-in candidate.

        Apparently the June 15 deadline is only for unafiliateds who want to petition onto the ballot.  Parties, of course, don’t petition on.  So Curry has until mid Feb. to reaffiliate as a D so she can go to the caucus and work up to her renomination.  But if she tries to petition on as an independent, she can’t because of the   one year deadline.  So its back to the Ds or write-in, which is suicidal.  Here’s hoping she reaffiliates with Ds and continues to serve.    

  13. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    You switch to unaffiliated – you’re out. Get someone really good and fight like crazy to take that seat back.

  14. Car 31 says:

    Curry is a good legislator who advocates well for rural Colorado. Good on her for going independent (even if the timing is strange). IMHO, this state’s political parties look like spoiled brats with ADHD fighting for toys in the sandbox.

    I welcome an Independent and sincerely hope that she and Riddle are successful in their futures. I hope and pray this will inspire others to get out from under the yoke of the parties.

    Even though I’m old enough to know better, it would be nice to see actual representation of independents in the statehouse, instead of D’s or R’s trying to be independent and shot down by their party.

    • Middle of the Road says:

      With dissatisfaction at an all time high with both parties in Congress, more and more folks are unwilling or uninterested in being affiliated with a political party, particularly when folks like Landrieu and Nelson (just two of the latest examples) are beginning to look more and more like Republicans who can’t vote without the vote being paid for with give aways.

      Carroll had a nice quote in the Post article:

      Carroll, D-Denver, said he was surprised by Curry’s decision and unsuccessfully tried to talk her out of it.

      “But it’s who Kathleen is. She really is an independent thinker. She believes that political parties aren’t her thing and I understand and respect her for that,” he said. “She made a decision that was best for her.

    • Danny the Red (hair)Danny the Red (hair) says:

      Does she always vote my way: no. But she’s smart and very knowledgeable on the competing land/water use priorities.

      Insurance doesn’t seem like her normal issue and I was curious when I read Mook’s article.

      As to the “purity” issue, I’m opposed to it, but I believe D’s in safe seats should represent the party’s express positions as voted on through the caucus to the state level.  I also believe that D’s in more competitive seats should hold the core values of the party even if individual votes needed to reflect the views of their particular constituents.

      I sort of use an informal MVP system like Nate Silvers analysis of the house.


    • MADCO says:

      How does this insurance thingy do that advocacy for rural Colorado?

      • Ralphie says:

        on this side of the hill who support reforming the health care system.

        So, even if the Ellen Roberts bill is draconian, like it or not, Curry is probably still representing her constituents.

        Maybe not people from safe districts in Denver who make Dem policy, but definitely the people who live over here.

      • Car 31 says:

        Not knowing the details of the bill, and not having spoken with Rep. Curry, I don’t know why she would sponsor the insurance bill.

        I can assume, which we are all good at here, that Curry’s independent minded approach to solving problems rubbed the Front Range ‘D’ establishment the wrong way and over the years the ‘D’ establishment has tried to muscle Curry into doing things or taking positions she wasn’t comfortable with.

        I’ve heard from state and local electeds that the national and state parties interfere/stick their noses in campaigns and complicate things, sometimes needlessly. All in the name of furthering a national agenda that seems to be based on talking points rather than merits.

        So, with all that said, Curry is a good advocate for her district and in a legislature that is dominated by urban, Front Range legislators, her strong voice will be sorely missed if she is unable to continue serving as an Independent.

  15. Ellie says:

    Both major political parties are so fractured they are quickly becoming an endangered mechanism in the way we elect our leaders.

  16. Angie Paccione says:

    I am a BIG fan of Kathleen Curry. She is a passionate legislator and truly reflects her constituents. She has impeccable integrity and remains true to her convictions. About 1/3 of the Colorado electorate is Unaffiliated… the legislature would do well to reflect that! Perhaps there would be less bickering in Congress if they were 1/3, 1/3, 1/3… I say “good on her” if she felt it was the move she wanted to take to better reflect her political views. And congrats for having the courage of your convictions Kathleen. It was an honor to serve with you!

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