Democrat Mike McLachlan, a lawyer based in Durango, announced Thursday he intends to challenge Republican J. Paul Brown for the 59th District seat in the state House of Representatives.
Standing beside his wife on the steps of the La Plata County Courthouse, McLachlan addressed a crowd of nearly 60 supporters, saying he wanted, to work for all the people of this district. I feel I will be the best person to go and work with people on both sides of the aisle in the Statehouse. I want Republicans to vote for me, I want independents to vote for me, I want Democrats to vote for me.
About a minute into McLachlans speech, the Courthouse clock interrupted him, chiming 12 times before he could continue.
Next time, Ill know to schedule the announcement at 1 p.m., he said.
McLachlan emphasized his Colorado roots, noting he attended Colorado State University at Pueblo and his wife, Barbara, who is a teacher at Durango High School, attended Fort Lewis College and Colorado State University.
McLachlan, who has argued before the United States Supreme Court, served as a La Plata County attorney from 1995 to 1998 and as the solicitor general of the state of Colorado from 1999 to 2000 before entering private practice.
In an interview Thursday afternoon, McLachlan said, The central thing Im trying to talk about is my ability to work on all sides of the political spectrum. Our current representative is ideologically tied to the extreme part of his party. I think his record demonstrates that he cant work with everybody. I can work with everybody.
The group of supporters reacted warmly when McLachlan pledged to defend womens reproduction rights and their freedom. Theres no greater latter-day feminist than a father talking to his daughter about the future, McLachlan said.
Spectators also applauded when McLachlan said he did not intend to cut government jobs.
The political attitude in the state party of our opponents is that destroying government jobs is necessarily good. But were not going to get good teachers, firefighters or policemen that way, McLachlan said.
McLachlan could face Patrick Swonger of Silverton in a competitive Democratic Party primary.
Swonger, who is petitioning to be on the ballot, said he has collected 225 of the 1,000 signatures he needs.
Swonger has to petition on the ballot because he missed the deadline to register as a party member by one day. Party rules require candidates to be registered member for at least 12 months before the general election.
McLachlan said, Im not running against Patrick Swonger. Im running against J. Paul Brown.
The 59th House District was redrawn last year in a bitterly contested reapportionment process that left the district more competitive for Democrats.
McLachlan said the Colorado Democratic Party had been very supportive of his candidacy.
Ive spoken to the major leadership, the local executive council, district officials I think the CDP is totally behind my candidacy, said McLachlan.
Matt Inzeo, communications director of the Colorado Democratic Party, said, If we have multiple qualified candidates, the party will remain neutral, and any party officials are required to remain neutral.