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October 11, 2007 11:45 PM UTC

Rep. Debbie Stafford Switches Party

  • 38 Comments
  • by: Democracy???

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Click below for the full statement from Rep. Stafford.

From The Rocky Mountain News:

Republican state Rep. Debbie Stafford of Aurora is switching parties, becoming the 40th Democrat in the state House of Representatives, The Associated Press has learned.

Stafford, 55, is a counselor and a minister from Aurora who represents Arapahoe and Elbert counties.

Stafford voted with Democrats last year to change a law which had made it harder for homeowners to sue developers over construction defects.

From Rep. Stafford:

I am happy to be here at this meeting of the House Democratic Caucus.  I am here to announce that I will be joining the Democratic Party.

My decision to cross the aisle was not made lightly or quickly.  This was a decision that was the product of a great deal of soul searching and contemplation.  My decision comes from my gut sense of right and wrong, and my heart’s deepest values. 

When I decided to run for the legislature in 1999, I ran because of my love for people and the issues that impacted the lives of our citizens such as affordable housing, health care, education, juvenile justice reform, protecting small businesses, and the economy.  It was and is my desire to continue to make Colorado the finest place to raise a family, to work, and to preserve the beauty of this great state. 

As I enter my last year in the House, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about my reasons for running, my accomplishments and what I want get done in my time left. 

In my time in the legislature, I have championed issues such as health care, mental health care access, supporting children through the foster care and adoption process, and animal rights laws.  I have helped with the clean up of asbestos in Deer Trail.  I have worked with the city of Aurora, Arapahoe, and Elbert Counties to improve a dangerous stretch of road. 

But I know that I have a lot of goals yet to achieve.  I want to provide access to mental health care for all Coloradans.  Reforming our health care system is a major undertaking that must continue to move forward.  I want to make Colorado’s schools the best in the nation.  I am passionate about juvenile justice reform and protecting our children.  I am concerned about the protection of private property rights. I want to help build a strong economy. 

So I asked myself a simple question: How can I best do that?  I considered my options.  Ideally, I find myself a moderate and would be best suited for a third party.  However, the reality that our political system is not designed for a third party voice to be strong, my answer was to join a party that better reflects my values and respects my contribution.

Like many others in Colorado who want to balance the role of government, who want to protect business yet show compassion for those less fortunate, who want to stand up for citizens who have been lost in bureaucracy, I find that I am in the middle of the political spectrum. 

I will spend my last year as an elected official serving the constituents that elected me to public office.  My ability to affect change for my constituents and the state of Colorado has been impacted by the fact that I am a moderate. 

Like many others in Colorado, I feel this way:
I am not leaving the Republican Party as much as the Republican Party left me. 

No one pushed me or pulled me:  I decided it was time to place myself, and my self-respect, with the Democratic Party.

Finally, let me be clear:  I am still Representative Debbie Stafford.  I still represent House District 40.  I will not be changing my votes or my values:  I am changing my party.

After Mr. Speaker says a few words, I’d be glad to take your questions.  Thank you.

Comments

38 thoughts on “Rep. Debbie Stafford Switches Party

      1. but reading phrases like “liberal wench” and “good solid moderate” associated with Debbie Stafford has me scratching my head and wondering if I’ve woken up in an alternative world.

    1. There is no question that the republican party has swung far right of the mainstream. No question that many party faithful (RINOs) now sit on the fence or have switched alliance to candidates less intransigent.

      The question that remains is will the pendulum swing back. When the dems control 80% of our govt will the republicans lick their wounds and move toward the center or will purity of the party trump relevance?

      The whole “there’s a special place in hell” for all the RINOs and liberal wenches indicates that the second may be our self-imposed fate.

  1. It has been speculated for some time that Stafford, who is term limited in 2008, would try to unseat Suzanne Williams in SD28.

    Most interesting development, no?

  2. Senate District 28 is more Democratic than House District 40. But Suzanne Williams will cream Stafford in either the primary or the general election.

    Stafford’s elevator has never reached the top floor. I hope I am finally rid of her. But I must say, it is sure refreshing that I finally have a Democrat representing me in the state house.

  3. ……but a very pleasant and nice right winger.  She’s been anti-choice, anti-gay rights, anti-gun safety, and I’m not 100% certain, but she MAY be pro-vouchers.  I believe she co-sponsored the resolution to impeach Denver District Court Judge John Coughlin after his decision in the case of the two lesbian mothers.
      She does like to spend money on social services programs which will make her right at home with the Democratic Caucus.  And she opposes the death penalty.
      Despite some of her misguided views, she’s a decent enough person. 

    1. but from what I remember, she’s not a moderate. Perhaps her new calling is to “bring” Jesus to the Dems and start the great revolution in the Democratic party that the right-wing brought to the Republican party.

    2. This is the worst news for Democrats.  Now the have an anti-choice puke in their midst.  Just sucks.  I didn’t know she was term limited, so at least she won’t screw up efforts to get that seat for a real Democrat. 

    3. I know her well and would never label her as a “moderate”. That the Colorado GOP is so far right as to make Stafford seem moderate is borderline frightening.

  4. there are several people in the legislature for whom this might make sense, but this isn’t one of them.  This makes no sense at all, no matter how you try to spin it.

    1. Come on Senator Johnson, we all know you want to!

      And what does Dan Slater know that we don’t?

      I had hoped to getting around to writing about last week’s Al Gore event, or about my visit to the Boulder Dems’ dinner last Friday, but a recent development has eclipsed all of that. In what may be the first of many, State Representative Debbie Stafford has announced that she has switched parties and has become a Democrat.

      http://blog.colorado

      In what may be the first of many… Johnson we’re looking at you! You know from experience the majority is a lot more fun!

        1. I heard rumblings years ago that Sen. Johnson was sick and tired of the Larimer GOP and was contemplating a switch of his own then, so why not now. If he’s leaving that seat to Lundber (god help us all!), he might as well go out with a little style!

  5. It would be interesting to see if she could not start a party that consisted of moderates. If she had laid out a platform and then encouraged fiscal conservative dems and moderate pubs to join, I will bet that it would have grown.

    Of course, history has proven me wrong. moose party? reform party?

    1. Just like Governor B.O. did in 2000 when the seat became vacant on the death of McPhearson and he appointed Stafford. I still haven’t forgiven either one of them because there was no legislative session and an appointment wasn’t necessary. He just did it so she could call herself an “incumbent” for the election.

      1. CRS 1-12-203 governs vacancies in the state legislature.  According to that statute, the vacancy would now be filled by the Democratic vacancy committee for Stafford’s house district, assuming they have appointed one.  (A perfect example of why district central committees need to appoint vacancy committees, even when they are not in power.)

        If the vacancy committee does not exist, or if they fail to fill the vacancy within the time alloted (I think 10 days after the vacancy), then the Governor can make the appointment.  That may be what happened in the example you mentioned, but generally, that does not happen unless there is a problem with the vacancy committee.

    1.   First, I don’t know who else the Dems might run against Tank.  (And yes, it will Tank again as the GOP candidate.)
        Does Debbie see herself as the 21st century version of Martha Ezzard?  (But hopefully with a better result.)

      1. Or just a wild guess, not nearly as crazy as the Rev. Debbie’s switch, but …
        After the 2006 election in a thread wondering who might replace Tancredo, should he run for president and ditch his seat, I wondered aloud whether Stafford had designs on the seat. At the time, she was showing up EVERYWHERE across the south metro area.
        It’s hard to believe she thinks it’d be easier to run for Congress as a Dem, I bet her switch is a reaction to shunning over her developer vote, but it’s still an option.
        While she probably doesn’t share a single position with Ezzard, kudos on the comparison, that’s very illuminating.

  6.   Twenty years ago, there was something like one Democrat and five or six Republicans in the state House from Arapahoe County.  Today, it’s five Democrats (Carroll, Rice, Stafford, Todd, and Garcia) to two (Swalm and Balmer).
      Arapahoe County is progressing politically just like Jeffco did.

  7. While I am happy to say a “democrat” now represents me, as her opponent in the 2006 election I have a few questions for Debbie.

    Would she still consider herself a supporter of George Bush, or of the War in Iraq?

    Has she reconsidered her views on wire-tapping US citizens, providing basic healthcare to the children of illegal immigrants, or same sex marriage.

    While I like her strong views on cleaning up the healthcare system in general I cannot deny that I am skeptical of this change. 

    Just as when Ben Campbell changed parties in the middle of a term, I feel all the donations and time spent by those of the abandoned party should count for something.

    I look forward to discussing her views on these and many other issues at upcoming democratic meetings.

    Welcome to the party and please remember, it is not the label after the name that defines a representative, but the votes you cast on behalf of those that elected you (or didn’t in this case).

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