Why is Houck Running against Labuda?

Democratic Rep. Jeanne Labuda will be facing a primary next year against prominent education activist Corrie Houck

Houck officially filed an affidavit for her candidacy late last month and has been making the rounds in her race to unseat Labuda.

But what inspired the former HD-1 chair to take on the HD-1 incumbent? The Colorado Statesman sheds some light:

For one of the main reasons Houck is challenging Labuda, look no further than your local payday lending outfit – the one with the flashing lights, where all those Mr. Donut stores used to be. Houck says she wants to fire the incumbent because she doesn’t like Labuda’s record on efforts to regulate payday lending. Houck believes the industry “is predatory as it exists today,” her spokesman says.

Houck currently chairs the Democratic Party of Denver’s education committee and helps get out the word at North High School (Go Vikings!). Dem up-and-comer Jason Krueger is running her campaign.

Here’s why Houck says she’s running:

“House District 1 has been my community and home for over a decade. I am running for state representative as a motivated advocate who is concerned for the welfare of my friends and neighbors. The time has come for a leader who is willing to step up and take on the challenges facing my community; the time has come for a leader who is willing to create opportunities. I am running because I believe I am that leader.”

The payday lending issue is certainly a novel reason to unseat an incumbent, and it probably is an issue Houck cares deeply about. There has to be more than one reason why she’s mounting a campaign, however.

We suspect it has something to do with the previous occupant of the HD-1 seat. There had been rumblings that former State Representative (and Labuda endorser) Fran Coleman was herself considering a primary campaign. With Houck in the race, we doubt Coleman will run. Still, this primary challenge raises compelling questions about what, if any, conversations Houck has had with Coleman. We’ll see which campaign Coleman lends her name to.

But why would Houck or Coleman even consider a primary? Perhaps it’s the payday lending issue. But we have good reason to suspect that some Democratic insiders are questioning Labuda’s overall continued service in the Capitol. The House Majority Project poured money into the incumbent’s race last cycle in part because Labuda wasn’t a particularly hardworking campaigner. We’ve heard of some stewing resentment among donors who believe that Labuda is partly to blame for the loss of the speaker’s gavel – the argument being that resources spent in her race could’ve been used to prevent the Republicans from gaining a razor thin majority. Had Labuda dedicated herself to her re-election, the thinking goes, she easily could’ve staved off challenger Danny Stroud without any outside support.

If this resentment is widespread, Houck may have an easy time dispatching Labuda. It all depends on how Denver institutional players line up in this race and how badly Labuda’s House colleagues want her to return after 2012.

One Community Comment, Facebook Comments

  1. nikolai says:

    I am new to DenverPols, but have followed ColoradoPols for years, and have been active in the Denver Dems for longer than I care to admit to (Because I refuse to acknowledge that I could be that old!)

    Labuda’s stand on the payday lending issue is probably in tune with her district, even though most Dems personally disagree with the practice itself.

    There always seems to be discontentment brewing in HD1 among the party people with the incumbent. But the party needs to realize it is a reasonably conservative (for Denver anyway) district.

    The new HD1 will be even be a little bit more so. While it still leans to the Dems, that lean is not as much in 2012 as it was in 2010.

    I think Labuda’s biggest disappointment is that she comes off as a airhead. But I am not sure that is a reason enough to primary her when she only has one more term before term limits takes her out anyhow.

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