Democrat Announces for House Seat Pivotal in 2012

(Cross-posted at Jeffco Pols)

We know of quite a few Democrats who blame the loss of the majority in the State House squarely on the shoulders of former Rep. Debbie Benefield; when you lose your majority by a one-seat margin, it’s inevitable that people will look for someone to get the blame. Democrats with the House Majority Project and in leadership at the Capitol have come up with a laundry list of reasons why Debbie lost her race: She didn’t walk enough, she didn’t call enough, or she just didn’t have the enthusiasm. We don’t agree with all of those criticisms, but nevertheless, it was a foregone conclusion that the next Democratic candidate in HD-29 would be someone new.  

That’s why we’re not surprised to have received this press release from JeffCo Dems chair Chris Kennedy championing someone other than Benefield to take on Republican Rep. Robert Ramirez.

Long-time Arvada resident Tracy Kraft-Tharp has announced her candidacy for the Colorado House of Representatives in House District 29, which includes parts of Arvada and Westminster in Jefferson County. Kraft-Tharp will be seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2012 election.

Kraft-Tharp has long been involved in the Arvada community while dedicating her career to serving people in need through social work, nonprofit management, legislative advocacy, and teaching.

Addressing her decision to run, Kraft-Tharp said, “I have been frustrated that the current State House leadership has only looked out for special interests and their tax breaks at the expense of investing in our kids and creating jobs. Arvada and Westminster deserve better, and I will fight to make sure our families all have a fair shot at the American Dream.”

First and foremost, this is a pretty bad press release. We first heard from sources several weeks ago that Kraft-Tharp was planning on staging a run, so a press release that essentially says “this woman is running for the state house,” is kind of a waste of ink. Everybody knew that already. The least you can do in a press release like this one is tell the media who the candidate is; this one doesn’t even tell us what she does for a living. She’s a resident? Good for her. Glad to know that she is legally able to run for the seat (for now, anyway)…but who the hell is she? That’s what a press release is supposed to explain.

Still, Democrats may be excited to have Kraft-Tharp in the race because, if nothing else, she’s a new face after a decade of Benefield and former Rep. and Sen. Sue Windels. Ramirez, by all accounts, is inept at campaigning and won by a combination of a good year, dumb luck, and a lazy incumbent. The district was represented by a Democrat for most of the last decade, even though many of those races were very close.

Kraft-Tharp may also luck out by way of the reapportionment process. It’s been widely acknowledged that Jeffco is going to lose a House seat, and Ramirez and Republican Libby Szabo may be drawn into the same seat at the same time that the makeup of HD-29 becomes more favorable for Democrats.

21 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Libertad says:

    Didn’t Kraft-Tharp back every tax adjustment bill that Benefield voted for in 2012?

    She also backed the removal of AB spending cap as did Benefield and all of the bills that Benefield pushed through to support Education, healthcare, justice, etc….?

    Anyone care to share their thoughts on how she differs from Debbie?

  2. Say Hey Kid says:

    Debbie Benefield won that seat for the Democrats and held on to it because of her hard work. Those now blaming Debbie for losing the seat would do well to look into a mirror.  

    Libby Szabo is likely to run against Evie Hudak.

  3. DaftPunk says:

    …is every seat not pivotal?

  4. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    I wouldn’t dream of, like (ahem) SOME PEOPLE, accusing you of harboring personal biases or anything of the sort, but I will accuse you of doing me a personal favor. You know how frustrated I get when we go too long without anyone picking on one of the good guys, and since I always gotta back an underdog, I end up defending someone like, oh, Beej, or Tipton’s daughter. So, I’m just going to assume that you’re kindly giving me the opportunity to defend someone worth the wrist strain for once, since the alternative is that you’ve lost your touch or for some reason (I can’t fathom one) you just don’t like Tracy, who happens to be one of the most qualified first-time candidates around.

    I know Tracy. I like Tracy. I’ve both known and liked Tracy for several years. Since it looks like I’m looking at a bleak future of Szabo, Szabo, Szabo where I live, I’ll probably adopt her and campaign for her. In part, that’s because I know and like her. But I know and like all of the Democrats surrounding my red district. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, though, will get a little more of my time.

    For one thing, she’s genuinely intelligent; she has plenty of supporters, but I have yet to see her turn to one of them to help her  with a question. She’s new to this campaigning game, but she’s learning fast and observing the best. Even more importantly, she gets what a friend of mine years ago declared the first rule of campaigns (and I agree): “You. Must. Attend.” If constituents are there, Tracy is there, and not because she has something better to do–she has a job that I deeply respect, a lovely family, and more hobbies and volunteer commitments than you can shake a stick at. Remember, Moe Keller, whose tenure as an elected official I have yet to see a Democrat remember without clapping a hand over their heart, was a mental health advocate.

    And here’s another thing: She has teaching experience. You know who doesn’t have teaching experience? The reps who voted to end school breakfasts. I happen to think that’s not coincidental. Imagine, a rep from HD 29 who actually understands that defunding education is unacceptable in the United States of America! After two years of Ramirez, won’t that be a breath of fresh air?

    As for the press release: Guvs, you DO realize that not everyone gets the Capitol Hill Rumor Post, right? That’s what Pols is for. You post the rumors here and then gloat when they’re confirmed. There are quite a few people eligible to vote for Tracy, and even more who could donate or volunteer, who did not know she was running until she announced. It’s just plain polite to send a prompt press release when you get into a campaign, to let the people who did hear the rumors know that it’s okay to say so now.

    How’s this? If you want something more than a press release, tell me what I should ask her, and I’ll do a diary interviewing her. If you don’t actually want more than a press release, you’re just being mean to a strong candidate for no Earthly reason–except, of course, giving me the chance to get mad for a good reason, which I do dearly appreciate. <3

    • nancycronk says:

      This is embarrasing, Pols.

      • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

        If nothing else they should have run into her at hearings and such.  

        • Colorado Pols says:

          She shouldn’t even have to bother with campaigning, since everyone already knows her.

          The point of a press release is to inform people; and not people who are active in politics or people who already know her — but the general public. Given that polls regularly show that a majority of voters can’t name their current member of Congress, we feel pretty safe in saying that most people wouldn’t know the difference between Kraft-Tharp and Kraft cheese. We’re not criticizing her — this doesn’t make her a bad or unqualified candidate — but it is absurd to think that Kraft-Tharp is already so well known that all she needs to do is tell people she is a candidate and they will rejoice and vote for her.  

          • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

            Mine says it’s the middle of July, 2011. I, for one, am not expecting to imminently vote for state house. Press releases at this point are a courtesy to the media to say “Hey, if you want to start covering this race, it’s on now.” That way when she actually does something that she expects will be covered in a way that would persuade voters and/or donors and/or volunteers to support her, the press release announcing THAT won’t come out of left field.  

            • JeffcoBlue says:

              You’re right, they’re right, everybody’s right. It’s not that big of a deal. Democrats have a good candidate for HD-29, and compared to Ramirez’s misdeeds (ASSET, etc.) this isn’t even a blip.

  5. nancycronk says:

    She is sharp, compassionate, articulate, and extremely wise. I would support her against anyone. Tracy has a background in mental health, which makes her uniquely suited to deal with some of her future opponents on the other side of the aisle. If you don’t know Tracy, I challenge you to step away from your computer and get out into the community a little more often. She’s been a capable and effective activist for a long time.

    Sometimes I wonder if the Guvs just make stuff up because they have a b.s. quota to fill. This press release is fine.

  6. Craig says:

    That all of these glowing reports about her are true.  I don’t know the woman, but have been around the “community” for almost 30 years.  She must be of a younger generation than me.  So, don’t assume that everybody who is somebody must know her.  First mistake of a campaign.

    In addition, I believe that the point of this post was that the press release was terrible.  I agree with that.  All the papers have is that she is going to run for the state house.  That’s one sentence and doesn’t merit any coverage from anyone except us absolute insiders.

    Sounds like first thing she needs to do is get someone with some public relations experience.  I can recommend several.  This is a state house race.  She can’t waste many opportunities and expect to be elected.

    By the way, good luck to her.  Ramirez is stupid and an idealogue.  Essentially nothing but a bump on a log.

    • JeffcoBlue says:

      Tracy is a class act, a shining star in HD-29, and she can win next year.

      I find this post mildly annoying, but it’s really not a big deal. If she never does anything worse than send a press release that nonplusses the Dead Guvs, she’s in great shape to beat Ramirez. I have no doubt that Ramirez will take his lickings from the Guvs when the time comes.

      And I agree with them about the reapportionment game changer possibilities! Tracy beats Ramirez, Szabo loses her seat and then loses to Evie. These are wonderful scenarios.

    • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

      Her campaign kickoff information is easily accessible on Facebook. She’s a listener and I’m sure she’d be happy to hear your thoughts on PR people for her.

  7. Jukefest99 says:

    In three short paragraphs we learn she is a long time Arvada resident, get a rundown of her resume (social work, nonprofit management, legislative advocacy, and teaching) and that she supports keeping sales tax loopholes closed. What else do you want in an introductory press release? Blood type, her favorite color and if she likes long walks on the beach? Anything is better than Ramirez and I am excited to learn more about Kraft-Tharp.  

  8. morgancarroll says:

    The voters of Jeffco are lucky.  And we all owe a great deal of thanks to Debbie Benefield for all of her service to her district and the state!

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