RBC I Former state senator Al White, an Independent, announced his intention to again represent Northwest Colorado in Senate District 8. If successful, White would be the first candidate registered as an Independent to ever win a seat in the state Legislature.
White has always been viewed by his Capitol colleagues as a maverick. Regardless of his past legislative history, nobody saw last week’s announcement coming.
White will be facing incumbent Randy Baumgardner, and Democratic challenger Emily Tracy.
White will be inducted into the Tourism Hall of Fame on March 9 after directing Colorado’s Office of Tourism for the past five years. During his tenure, White managed his knowledge of running small businesses in Winter Park and 11 years serving Northwest Colorado in the Legislature. As tourism director, Colorado had more than one million tourists visits in 2014, which earned $18.6 billion for the state, an all-time annual high. This also enabled the tourism industry to hire and retain new employees, fostering an estimated 155,000 jobs.
White said he has been receiving calls from supporters throughout Colorado urging him to consider a run against incumbent, Randy Baumgardner (R). White reaffirmed that fact.
“I have been urged by supporters throughout Senate District 8 to run for my old seat,” he said. “All of these folks worked closely with me during my time in the state House and state Senate. Over the past several months, I have realized many residents feel it is time for me to continue my public service.”
In the Tourism Hall of Fame statement released Jan. 4, White is referred to as Colorado’s “Reverend of Tourism.” The release also mentions White’s time in the State Senate.
“As a member of the Joint Budget Committee, he worked diligently to protect the tourism office’s budget” and went on to proclaim, “No figure in the 21st Century has been more associated with Colorado tourism than Al White.”
On Thursday, White said, “It is time we all look past party labels and ideologies. Instead of being forced by partisan leadership to vote in lock step with a specific party, our district deserves a senator that will vote on each bill based solely on its merit.
“I know that without establishment support from the two major parties, a win will be unprecedented,” he said. “That said, Senate District 8 is too important for me to not put up a fight. I can no longer let my family and the good people of my home district be poorly represented in the Senate. This is why I intend to bring a truly independent voice to our State Capitol.”
White served Northwest Colorado in the House and Senate from 2001 to 2011. In addition to tourism-related initiatives, he has been part of legislation regarding coal mining and coal-fired electrical generation, environmental issues, oil and gas extraction, rural education, water law, job and housing development.