In the race for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, Republican Marilyn Musgrave and Democrat Stan Matsunaka pose strict conservatism against social moderation, each vying for the spot on top.
Musgrave, who defeated Greeley attorney Jeff Bedingfield during the GOP primary Aug. 13, is running on traditionally Republican-controlled turf. The 4th District includes northern Colorado, Fort Collins, Greeley, and agricultural areas in the eastern plains. No Democrat has represented the expansive district since 1973.
Musgrave, a Fort Morgan native and current state senator, has the support of retiring Republican congressman Bob Schaffer and former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong. Matsunaka, senate president of the Colorado General Assembly, totes endorsements from Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar as well as former U.S. Attorney and current Senate candidate Tom Strickland. Schaffer is leaving his seat, honoring his pledge to retire after three House terms.
Of the district’s registered voters, 40 percent are registered Republicans, 26 percent are registered Democrats, and 34 percent remain unaffiliated. The district, which favored Republican President George W. Bush by 19 percentage points over Al Gore, has consistently elected Republican officials for local, county, state and national legislature.
Still, Jeff Bridges, communications director of Matsunaka’s Fort Collins campaign office, said Matsunaka’s policies are just what the district — and college students — need.
“I’m a college student myself, and I believe in him,” Bridges said. Since many students receive financial aid from federal legislature, he said electing officials who will make the best decisions for constituents is important.
“(Students) want someone who will fight for them,” he said. “I know Stan is the person to do that.”
Bridges said Matsunaka, a CSU alum, has received support of independent voters during elections and also has a history of attracting moderate Republicans.
Matsunaka’s platform includes transportation and education reform, protection of Social Security, and prevention of oil exploration on Colorado’s vast open lands.
By contrast, Musgrave is a fiscally and socially conservative Republican who has supported pro-life legislation and gun rights. Musgrave, also a CSU graduate, describes herself as a proven, across-the-board conservative.
“The conservatives in Colorado feel that I’m the one,” she said.
At deadline, Musgrave’s campaign staff was out of town and unavailable for additional comment.