Hurlbert launches campaign for state Senate

By Vicky Gits
Posted 1/25/10

Mark Hurlbert, the district attorney for Clear Creek and Summit counties, has decided to run for the state Senate in District 16, which covers most of the mountain resort communities and parts of …

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Hurlbert launches campaign for state Senate


Mark Hurlbert, the district attorney for Clear Creek and Summit counties, has decided to run for the state Senate in District 16, which covers most of the mountain resort communities and parts of Boulder and Jefferson counties.

As a Republican, Hurlbert could wind up facing Evergreen real estate developer Tim Leonard in the primary, assuming both can win enough votes at the Republican Assembly on May 22.

Hurlbert is a native of Summit County who was elected DA in the 5th Judicial District in 2004 after being appointed by Gov. Bill Owens in 2002. He has two more years on his term.

He announced his candidacy on Thursday afternoon by driving into Evergreen for an interview with the Canyon Courier at the Ice House Café. Earlier in the day, he made appearances in Breckenridge, Georgetown and Granby. He was on his way to Boulder and Gilpin counties to complete the tour of the district.

Hurlbert showed up in a lawyerly suit, dress shirt and tie, and without a campaign manager, PR person, business card, flier or entourage of any sort. He has been a skier since he was 10 years old and cross-country skied competitively in college. He has climbed all the state’s fourteeners.

The first house he bought was in Lawson in Clear Creek County. He has lived in Minturn and Silver Plume and grew up in Dillon, so he has deep roots in SD16.

So why is he running?

“One is the state legislature and the way they are dealing with the budget. I would love to bring fiscal sanity back. State government seems to be growing. It would be nice to get them to live within their means,” Hurlbert said.

What is his fiscal philosophy?

“Keep taxes low. Keep the money in people’s pockets. Keep government small but efficient.”

So why does he think he can beat Leonard, who thinks the same thing?

“Because I have run a government budget for seven years. And other than one very big exception, I have never asked for a supplement. (The exception was for the Kobe Bryant case in 2003.)

What about his stance immigration?

“The feds really haven’t done very much on this. It would be nice to leave it up to them. But I think we need to look statewide at immigration reform. Mandating the use of E-verify, I think, is a good start,” Hurlbert said.

Hurlbert said he believes in the concept of drug court and trying to steer offenders into intensive supervision with immediate consequences that gets them off drugs. More could be done to get first-time offenders into programs so they don’t re-offend, he said.

He thinks the medical marijuana law is creating huge law enforcement problems in the mountain towns and diverting police from more important things. “When the law was passed, people thought they were truly trying to help people that were hurting. When it first came out, the average age was a person in their 40s, and the complaint was nausea from chemotherapy. Now it’s in the 20s, and its unspecified pain. It’s become a way to legalize (pot).”

Hurlbert is a member of the Colorado district attorneys council, which is working on future marijuana legislation.

Does he think the Kobe Bryant case is a plus or a minus and would he pursue the charges again?

Hurlbert said he thinks most of his fellow prosecutors around the country think he did a good job, and he would do it all over again.

“I respect 100 percent the victim’s decision not to go forward with the trial,” Hurlbert said. Asked if he still believed there was a rape involved, Hurlbert said, “Yes.”  

Senate District 16 consists of northwest Jefferson County, part of Boulder and all of Grand, Gilpin and Summit counties. In recent years, it has been Democratic territory. Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Coal Creek Canyon, held the post before incumbent state Sen. Dan Gibbs.

The Senate seat opened up after Gibbs, who lives in Silverthorne, announced he wasn’t running for re-election and would seek the job of Summit County commissioner.

Contact Vicky Gits at or 303-350-1042. Check for updates.


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