[AllPolitics - States]

Colorado - Senate

Wayne Allard (R-Colo.)

Born: Dec. 2, 1943, Fort Collins, Colo.
Education: Colorado State U., D.V.M. 1968.
Occupation: Veterinarian.
Family: Wife, Joan Malcolm; two children.
Religion: Protestant.
Political Career: Colo. Senate, 1983-91; U.S. House, 1991-97.

By Congressional Quarterly

Allard represents the latest in a recently elected line of Western GOP senators who combine an amiable personal manner with staunch conservative views. Like Idaho's Dirk Kempthorne and Wyoming's Craig Thomas, he hopes to curb the federal government's spending and authority while protecting his state's rural residents and industries.

Allard was one of eight House members -- four Republicans and four Democrats -- elected to the Senate in 1996.

His victory over Democratic nominee Tom Strickland kept the Senate seat of retiring Republican Hank Brown in GOP hands.

The contest to replace Brown in the key swing state of Colorado was seen as a top priority for both parties, as both Democrats and Republicans staged competitive primaries.

Colorado Democrats, smarting over the 1995 defection of the state's other Senator, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, from the Democratic Party to the GOP, were especially eager to win one seat back.

Allard, a three-term House member from the mainly rural, eastern 4th District, faced several primary opponents, including state Attorney General Gale Norton. While Allard, who had chaired a House Agriculture subcommittee, led in fundraising, he began the contest trailing Norton -- who had better statewide name recognition -- in the polls.

As Colorado's complex system of nominating congressional candidates -- including local and state party assemblies -- unfolded and other candidates dropped out, the Aug. 13 primary became a showdown between Allard and Norton.

Both candidates touted their conservative views. But Norton hoped to tap into the moderate vote with her support for abortion rights, contrasting her position with Allard's.

Allard continued a summer 1996 trend in which abortion rights opponents prevailed over their more moderate opponents in GOP primary contests -- not only in Colorado, but in several other states including Georgia and Kansas.

Allard sought to portray himself as a down-to-earth, common- sense lawmaker who keeps his political career in perspective. A veterinarian for several decades, he has kept his license current even though he sold his practice five years ago.

During his eight years in Colorado's state Senate followed by six years in the U.S. House, Allard usually managed to avoid controversy. That all changed in his general election contest against Strickland, the survivor of a nasty Democratic primary.

Strickland, a lawyer with a prominent Denver firm, accused Allard of having one of the most extreme voting records in Congress and of being beholden to campaign contributions from tobacco companies and gun lobbyists. Allard attacked Strickland as a wealthy corporate lobbyist who made his fortune defending clients with environmental problems.

In a televised debate, Allard caused a stir when he responded affirmatively to a hypothetical question about whether he would support public hangings to deter crime.

But in the end, Allard prevailed, in part by sticking to one key theme: He asked Colorado voters whether they wanted a veterinarian or a lawyer-lobbyist to represent them in the Senate.

Allard's campaign drew strong support from Christian conservative groups, several of which have relocated to Colorado in recent years. A state ballot initiative giving parents the "inalienable" right to control their children's education became a key factor in the race; it was supported by Allard and the Christian conservative groups.

During his campaign, Allard deflected Strickland's charge of extremism by citing his own ability to work with liberals, such as retiring Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo.

But he had developed a solidly conservative voting record during three terms in the House. He sponsored term limit legislation and advocated eliminating the departments of Education, Energy and Commerce while opposing gun control measures and supporting a constitutional ban on abortion under most circumstances.

In 1994, Allard tried without success to eliminate funding for the National Biological Survey, a field census intended to assist scientists in protecting threatened species by keeping tabs on their population levels on both public and private lands.

And in the 104th Congress, he sought to eliminate funding for the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, which helps coordinate and promote U.S. policy on technology development.

As a senator, Allard plans to push many of the same conservative causes he backed in the House, including a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. He also expects to continue stressing efforts to move responsibilities from the federal government to the states, and to curb unfunded mandates.

Allard's Senate committee assignments include Banking and Environment. In the House, he served on the Resources Committee, where he attracted heavy criticism from environmentalists.

The League of Conservation Voters targeted him for defeat, citing his votes on bills involving water and air pollution, the use of public lands and citizens' right to know about toxic chemical releases.

Allard brushed off such criticism, saying he is interested in promoting environmental policies based on "sound science" instead of emotional appeals.

The 1996 election contest was not the first time Allard succeeded in following Brown. In 1990, after eight years of dividing his time between the Colorado Senate and his Loveland veterinary practice, Allard seemed on the verge of retiring from politics. But Brown, who was then representing the 4th District, decided to run for the Senate, which opened the way for Allard.

© 1997, Congressional Quarterly Inc. All rights reserved.

Colorado - 1st District

Diana DeGette (D-Colo.)

Born: July 29, 1957, Tachikawa, Japan.
Education: Colorado College, B.A. 1979; New York U., J.D. 1982.
Occupation: Lawyer.
Family: Husband, Lino Lipinsky; two children.
Religion: Presbyterian.
Political Career: Colo. House, 1993-97.
Capitol Office: 1404 Longworth Bldg. 20515; 225-4431.

By Congressional Quarterly

DeGette is following in the political footsteps of a feminist icon, Democratic Rep. Patricia Schroeder, who retired in 1996 after 12 terms representing the Denver-based 1st District in the House.

Having landed a prized spot on the Commerce Committee, DeGette is the only first-term Democrat to sit on one of the three most prestigious House committees: Commerce, Appropriations, and Ways and Means.

She sees the Commerce Committee as an avenue to address such key Denver banking concerns as balancing the needs of small independent banks with those of larger institutions engaging in interstate banking.

DeGette, who previously served in the Colorado House, expects to continue fighting for some of the same issues Schroeder championed, such as supporting abortion rights. DeGette hopes to ensure enforcement of existing laws protecting physicians who perform abortions.

She also has worked on family issues, including the problem of domestic violence, and sees education -- including student loans and Head Start funding -- as a key topic. She enters Congress saying she hopes that certain provisions in the welfare reform law passed in 1996 become "less onerous."

For DeGette, the environment is a top priority. She plans to press for expedited and increased funding to clean up the nation's superfund sites, including the chemical-laden Rocky Mountain Arsenal, which is slated for cleanup over 10 years.

DeGette, who worked as a civil rights lawyer before beginning her political career, first entered politics because she felt she could have a more direct impact on public policy in the legislature than as a litigator.

She spent four years in the Colorado House, eventually serving as assistant minority leader.

The 1996 contest to replace Schroeder in the diverse urban district received national attention, in part because of DeGette's Republican opponent, Joe Rogers, an African American attorney and former aide to Colorado Republican Sen. Hank Brown.

But before her showdown with Rogers, DeGette, seen as the early front-runner for the Democratic nomination, overcame a tough primary challenge from former Denver City Councilman Tim Sandos.

Both the primary and general election campaigns involved some interesting voting group dynamics. DeGette picked up additional African American support in the primary when a third candidate, Les Franklin, who is black and the former head of Democratic Gov. Roy Romer's job training office, gave up his primary bid and encouraged his supporters to vote for DeGette, who is white. Sandos, who is Hispanic, was also seeking support from minority voters.

DeGette went on to win the nomination with 56 percent of the primary vote.

Meanwhile, Rogers, who had been planning to run against Schroeder before she made her surprise retirement announcement in 1995, hoped to tap into Denver's minority community and attract voters who normally supported Democrats. The 1st is an ethnically diverse district in which more than 10 percent of the population is black and more than 20 percent is Hispanic.

That equation made the November race more competitive than would otherwise be the case in this Democratic-leaning district. Schroeder usually won re-election in the 1st with 60 percent of the vote or more.

Rogers succeeded in winning the endorsement of a group of black ministers who usually support Democrats, and focused his campaign on education, including merit pay for teachers, and crime issues, including his support for the death penalty.

But DeGette picked up support from Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, an African American Democrat.

In addition, DeGette won the backing of EMILY's List, a powerhouse group that funds Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights.

© 1997, Congressional Quarterly Inc. All rights reserved.

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