Incumbent Bob Rankin wins Senate District 8 Republican primary over Breckenridge resident Debra Irvine |

Incumbent Bob Rankin wins Senate District 8 Republican primary over Breckenridge resident Debra Irvine

Bob Rankin
Courtesy photo

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Incumbent Republican state Sen. Bob Rankin of Carbondale defeated Breckenridge resident Debra Irvine on Tuesday night in the Senate District 8 Republican primary.

With 17,472 votes counted in the seven-county district as of 9:40 p.m., Rankin held a 63% to 37% advantage over Irvine. In addition to Summit County, the district includes Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt.

As votes were still being tallied Tuesday night, Rankin was winning in five of the seven counties, including his home county of Garfield with 74% of the primary vote. Irvine held a razor-thin 51% advantage in her home county of Summit as well as Jackson.

Rankin said he looks forward to continuing his work on behalf of residents in his district.

“I just would like to thank the people who supported me,” he said late Tuesday. “This was a strange election, and I was not able to campaign as much because I was busy on the budget committee and then the virus.

“I have unfinished business and want to get to work on the recovery of our state. We’re in crisis, and I think I can help small businesses recover and get back to work.”

Rankin was the former three-term state representative for Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties from 2013-2018. He was appointed to the vacant District 8 Senate seat in January 2019 after he had just been elected to a fourth term in the state House. He replaced former Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who resigned.

Irvine was a 2014 Republican candidate for the District 61 Colorado House of Representatives seat. She ran unsuccessfully for the same seat in 2012.

This will be Rankin’s first run for the Senate seat.

Rankin ran on his experience as a member of the state Joint Budget Committee, saying he had seen firsthand the financial effects of the COVID-19 shutdown. Rankin explained that the December budget forecast showed $865 million to spend over the previous year. In May, the budget needed to be cut by $3.3 billion. 

“We’ve cut a lot of important programs, “Rankin said in a June interview with the Summit Daily News. “… We’ve never had to do anything like this. This is 25% of the state’s general fund spending. I think we have to do everything we can to promote rapid recovery and then that means supporting our businesses and getting people back to work because working people pay taxes, businesses pay taxes. I think it’s time to end the emergency.”

As part of those planned budget cuts, tourism was on the chopping block.

Rankin went against the recommendation of the Joint Budget Committee, saying it makes a difference to communities like Summit County whether tourism is marketed. He said tourism industries need to be brought back safely but as quickly as possible. 

Reflecting in June on his six years in the House of Representatives, two years as a state senator and six years on the Joint Budget Committee, Rankin said he has focused on representing the rural interests of western Colorado and education in the past few years. Rankin said he co-started the Education Leadership Council, which he continues to co-chair. Rankin said he also has focused on health care costs in rural Colorado.

“Last year, I actually worked with a bipartisan team, and we passed a bill called ‘reinsurance,’ which dropped rates about 30% for that segment. … At the same time, we ran a bill to enable local negotiations,” Rankin said in June. “So, you put those two together, and we’ve reduced some people’s insurance by almost 50%. I’m really fighting to keep that and keep it funded in this era of budget cuts.”

Rankin will face Carbondale rancher and Glenwood Springs water and municipal attorney Karl Hanlon in the November general election.

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