Sep 302008
Authors: Trevor Simonton

In the wake of Congress’ failure to approve a $700 billion bailout Monday and looming fears surrounding the nation’s future economy, the battle for Colorado’s coveted 4th Congressional District seat is taking a sharp focus on the candidate’s economic plans.

Incumbent Rep. Marilyn Musgrave has been fiercely battling Democratic candidate Betsy Markey for the seat that has been held by Republicans since 1972, which Democrats fell just short of taking in 2006.

Both campaigns have highlighted the importance of considering the current disastrous condition of the economy and how that will affect future generations.

But Musgrave, R – Colorado, who has held the seat since 2002, is fighting an uphill battle as the current economic turmoil is linked to the Bush administration and the Republican Party. CSU political science professor John Straayer said the poor state of the economy has tarnished the image of the current Republicans in office and has opened the door to a Democratic election.

“The 4th Congressional seat has been in Republican hands since the 1970s,” he said. “But now Musgrave has been handicapped in this election by a negative Republican Party image. . The national political atmosphere is not good for Republicans.”

Christana Duran, president of the Colorado Young Democrats, said the seat will directly impact funding for higher education.

“That’s going to be an important seat,” Duran said.

“It’s important in terms of access and affordability of higher education, and in terms of going forward.”

Straayer said the Republicans have had an overwhelming base of support in this district, but now, because of the Iraq war and the economy, the seat is now highly competitive.

Ben Marter, a spokesperson for the Democratic Markey campaign, recognizes this fact and said that Musgrave has helped bring the economy into the mess in which it currently stands.

“People like her consistently vote to deregulate financial markets,” he said. “We certainly need more oversight of the financial markets.”

“If (Markey) were in Congress,” he said, “she would be at the table involved in negotiations. We haven’t seen that from Musgrave.”

But decision campaign spokesperson Jason Thielman defended Musgrave, saying that she voted no on the $700 billion bailout that was shot down by Congress on Monday.

“She is trying not to saddle the next generation with a monstrous debt,” he said. “It is important to deal with the financial situation, but when this generation rises up, we want them to not be handcuffed with debt.”

Thielman added that it’s unfair to say that Musgrave has not been involved in negotiations, and pointed to her appearance on CNN with Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur Monday night as an example of how she works with others to create reform.

Both candidates have expressed recognition of the need for economic recovery and the effect it will have on future generations.

“But the most important thing to note is that when the economic package failed yesterday, people immediately started pointing fingers,” Marter said.

“That’s the sort of attitude that won’t solve any problems at all. (Markey) will aim to avoid that sort of mentality.”

But a wave of negative campaign ads has flooded TV commercial time, as both parties fire back and forth with finger pointing.

Judicial complaints have been filed on both sides, as allegedly untruthful smear campaigns have taken over the spotlight.

The ad battle started when the Musgrave campaign launched an attack that accused Markey of using her staff position under Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colorado, to gain government contracts for her business, Syscom Services.

Markey fired back, accusing Musgrave of co-sponsoring a bill that lowered tax rates on collectable coins and precious metals with the intention of benefiting her coin and metal-invested husband and also accused her of unethically giving herself a pay raise.

Both ad campaigns have landed complaints in Larimer County district court, with both parties claiming that the others’ are untrue.

“It’s just modern American politics, which is increasingly characterized by negative ads and dueling attacks, and it has now reached into the judicial system,” Straayer said.

Elections Beat Reporter Trevor Simonton can be reached at

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