The Democratic Party Exodus Continues: Colorado Speaker Pro Tem Walks Out by Gregory Hilton

Barack Obama accepted his party’s presidential nomination in Colorado last year and won the state in November by a 5.5% margin. Now the political landscape has changed considerably. The approval ratings of prominent Democrats have plunged. Gov. Bill Ritter (D-CO) is seeking re-election but is already trailing former Rep. Scott McInnis (R) by a 48 to 40% margin. Appointed U.S. Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) is losing by an even larger margin to former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton (R).
Furthermore, the Democratic Party exodus is continuing. Walking out the door yesterday was the Speaker Pro Tem of the Colorado House of Representatives who has also served as Chair of the Agriculture Committee for the past 6 years. State Rep. Kathleen Curry, 49, describes herself as a conservative Democrat but no longer feels comfortable in her party because they are not fiscally responsible.
“In a leadership position you should march in line more than I have,” she said. Curry was a dissenting voice in the Democratic caucus on the unionization of state employees. She also opposed the legislation to take away the senior citizens’ homestead exemption, and the sales tax exemption for agriculture. Additional breaks came when she opposed the doubling of “assessments” (i.e. taxes) on vehicles, as well as the “assessment” on health insurance premiums to pay for CoverColorado.
Curry will have to give up all of her leadership positions. Her decision has nothing to do with politics. She has been unopposed in the past two elections and no candidate had surfaced against her for 2010.
Now she will have to conduct a difficult write-in campaign to get her name on the ballot. Curry was first elected to the House in 2004 when Democrats won both chambers in the legislature for the first time since 1960.
Curry participated in a bus tour last year on behalf of the Obama campaign where she was joined by former Gov. Roy Romer (D), seen in the background of this photo, Ken Salazar (who is now Secretary of the Interior), and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Last year Curry claimed Obama would be able to get the deficit under control. She changed her registration to Independent and has no plans to become a Republican. There has never been an independent in the Colorado House.

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