Republican Lew Webb has dropped out of the race to replace Ellen Roberts as state representative for the 59th District
because local GOP party leaders deemed him too conservative, he said Wednesday.
The retired auto dealer was approached by La Plata County Republican Party co-chairman Tom Crabb, who asked Webb to
consider running for public office. But somewhere along the line, both Crabb and Webb said, the relationship soured.
"The leadership of the 59th District and the Republican Party here in La Plata County seem to come down further to
the middle of the road than I do on many issues," he said.
In an ad in The Durango Herald on Thursday, Webb said though he has received much support from residents, the leaders
of the party, specifically those based in more urban Durango, grew unsupportive of his "traditional, conservative
family values" as his campaign played out. He said he had to give back uncashed donation checks totaling more than
Webb said he experienced pushback for his views from Roberts, who is vacating her seat to run for the Colorado
Senate, and Republican County Commissioner Kellie Hotter, as well as La Plata County Republican Party leaders Crabb
and Barb Bales.
Hotter said that if anything, her election to office shows she is in touch with the public. Because Webb dropped out
of the race, she said, he'll never know.
"As far as the Republican Party goes, I have been very impressed with our growing numbers and the rejuvenation of
party members," she said. "It's fun to be around motivated people who are once again proud to be Republican."
Webb said Roberts was not helpful to his campaign, and sought to replace him. Roberts said perhaps Webb was not
prepared for the immense workload a candidate must assume.
"Quite honestly, I didn't know what Lew's positions were. He didn't make them clear in anything I saw," she said.
Crabb said Webb took an extended hunting trip during his campaign and constituents began asking where he was. Crabb
said he disapproved of the sudden and public manner Webb chose to leave the race.
"There was a disconnect between what Lew thought we would do and what a campaign is supposed to do on its own," he
Webb, 51, is the son of Orange County, Calif., auto dealership magnate Lewis McKinney Webb, who sold his Webb
Automotive Group in 1998. Lew Webb spent his professional life working for his father's automotive empire, a
franchise that included the largest Lexus dealership in the country and brought in revenue in excess of $500 million.
Webb retired and moved to Colorado in 2000, he said, to get away from the frenetic pace of Southern California. At
his ranch near Lemon Reservoir, Webb hosts missionaries and church events. He said he prayed hard before deciding to
pursue public office because of a strong commitment to his core conservative Christian values.
Webb and wife, Laura, have four daughters.
Roberts, who is pursuing the 6th Senate District seat, considers herself fiscally conservative and in favor of
limited government, she said. She said labels like "moderate" aren't helpful.
"We should all focus on being Republicans," she said.
Webb's departure leaves Democrat Brian O'Donnell unopposed in the race.
"It definitely changed my day," O'Donnell said of the news. "But it's not going to change my campaign."
In the 6th Senate District race, which Webb hinted he might enter, Roberts is opposing Democrat and Hesperus water
expert Bruce Whitehead. Whitehead was appointed in August to replace Jim Isgar, who left to take a government
Co-chairwoman of the La Plata County Republican Party Barb Bales said she really doesn't know what "moderate" means.
"It's kind of in the eye of the beholder," she said.