2014 Just Became that Much Worse for Corrie Houck

After a blistering primary loss to incumbent HD-1 Rep. Jeanne Labuda, the political future of erstwhile Democratic challenger Corrie Houck is far from certain.

Few thought Houck could win, of course: she received little outside support and was campaigning against a three term incumbent. While Jeanne Labuda certainly isn’t the most popular legislator in her caucus, the fact remains that voters in southwest Denver were given no reason not to vote for the most recognizable name on the ballot.

The benefit of being expected to lose, however, is that Houck could’ve easily parlayed her second-place finish into a 2014 campaign — when term limits will prohibit Labuda from running for re-election. Given just how unpopular the incumbent is in some circles, few would have held Houck’s 2012 challenge against her once the seat opens up. She would’ve had a primary of her own to contend with, of course, but Houck would’ve had an edge in any race two years down the line.

Houck, however, burned more bridges than she built over the course of her primary campaign. Not only did she fail to demonstrate any fundraising chops, her ad hominem attacks on the incumbent alienated Houck from several influential members of Denver’s political class. 30 area politicos, after all, sent out a letter defending Laubda and decrying her challenger’s attacks.

Although she had plenty of ammunition to hurl at the incumbent and paint her record as out of touch with the district, Houck instead attacked Labuda’s character. Mudslinging is as much a part of local politics as yard signs — although Houck couldn’t get those right, either — but you simply cannot run a campaign based on how bad the incumbent is without saying why and how you would be better.

If Corrie Houck had run a positive campaign centered on the issues, she could’ve held her head high in spite of the devastating margins by which she lost. She could’ve improved her name ID and rolodex heading into an eventual campaign for an open seat. Instead, she’s earned the reputation of the woman who “played dirty and lost.” Houck came off as an amateur, too ambitious for her own good and willing to throw anything at the wall, desperately hoping that something, anything, would stick.

Voters don’t really care about dirty politics, but the fact remains that Corrie Houck couldn’t even take down one of the House’s most unpopular Democrats by going negative. That doesn’t necessarily preclude a future run for office, but it certainly gives potential endorsers reason to be wary and future opponents an easy attack point.  

5 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JimW says:

    Compare that to the Republican campaign where there was no mud and both sides shook hands after. It is still a shame however that the popular notion is that the better candidate is the one with the most money. I viewed raising money from donors for a primary as taking it from the eventual winner of the primary. Like everyone else, people have a budget for how much they will donate. Why try and grab it all for a primary and hurt it for the general election? Negative campaigns and burning bridges rarely work in either the long or short run.

    Jim Wildt

  2. fader says:

    I applaud Houck’s campaign on obtaining 1/3 of the vote against a 6 year incumbent. As a result People both inside and outside the Capitol have spoken to Houck’s ability to forge alliances, despite tough circumstances. This will make Houck a contender in 2014.

    Granted, Houck had an uphill battle from the get-go, and Houck was rough around the edges at the start. However, we in HD1 witnessed her personal development, especially at the last Democratic debate (Houck won handily).

    Houck’s willingness to mount a ground game and speak with the community is what HD1 has been missing.

    Moreover, we (I speak for myself, friends and neighbors) in HD1 are proud of Houck for running a clean campaign after Assembly. Contrary to Denverpols assertions, after Houck got on the ballot, she didn’t so much as mention Labuda again. We didn’t receive any negative mail, phone calls, or witness personal attacks. Rather, we witnessed an issue-centered candidate who truly wanted to make a difference for HD1.

    It was Labuda who ran a negative campaign, including sending out letters falsely alleging Houck was negative campaigning. Isn’t this negative campaigning? Labuda even contacted the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels and slandered Houck saying:

    “A lot of people tell me Corrie knocked on their door, and people asked, ‘Why are you running against Labuda?’ and she couldn’t give them answers.'”

    Typical Labuda, her comment doesn’t even make sense.

    I remained neutral until Houck knocked on my door mid-May. We had an intelligent conversation about the needs of our community, and Houck’s willingness to listen and work with us. Laduda has never knocked on my neighborhood’s doors.

    Why would Houck want to bring up Labuda and help an incumbent with name recognition?

    Ugh- I am so tired of Denverpols fabricating content.

    A quick fact-check of the Colorado Statesman, Houck’s literature, and the Denver Post reveals Houck mounted an issue-campaign to point out why she was running in the first place: our current Representative’s inattention to policy that truly concerns us in the neighborhood including foreclosures. Interesting HD1 contains 80219 which has the highest foreclosure rate in Colorado, yet the Colorado Homebuilders endorsed Houck.

    I’m sure Houck did not expect to raise a lot of cash due to the precarious nature of challenging an incumbent. However, a quick look at Houck’s last filing has one interesting donor: Mayor Michael Bloomberg- yes the Mayor of New York City. Yet, Denverpols comments that Houck didn’t work on her “rolodex” and burned bridges. Instead, if Bloomberg is any indication, Houck brought attention to our district, which we feel has been ignored for too long. (After all- Houck attracted Denverpols, the Denver Post, and the Colorado Statesman to pay attention).

    To the contrary we in HD1 are proud of Houck and feel her courage to hold Labuda’s “feet to the fire” made us all stronger as a community. We need to be heard at the Capitol.

    Denverpols- you need to fact-check, or at the very least, not fabricate content in the absence of a slow news cycle. You’re better than that.

  3. ua777 says:

    Notice to Denver Pols: We in Southwest Denver don’t want or appreciate your ugly interference in our democratic process.

    You tried to stir up a mess in House District 1 with false and distorted attacks on Rep. Labuda.  Time after time, you pilloried Labuda while you virtually anointed Houck as the winner-to-be on a top-to-bottom groundswell of support.  No matter– Labuda smoked Houck in the primary, even though Labuda had only 4 weeks to campaign after the session ended, while Houck had several months.

    Denver Pols blew it, so now you’re turning on your ex-favorite Houck, and you still can’t get the facts straight!  Although Houck lacked the experience and community record to represent us, she does not deserve your mud-stirring any more than Rep. Labuda did.

    No wonder the Denver Pols blog is a laughing-stock around the State Capitol!  

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