Senate District 8 contenders trade accusations, drop thousands |

Senate District 8 contenders trade accusations, drop thousands

Caddie Nath
summit daily news

The Republican hopefuls for state Senate District 8 have now spent more than $70,000 between them on a race that has become a battle of the right.

The primary race heated up between current state Rep. Randy Baumgardner and incumbent state Sen. Jean White when third-party interest groups launched campaigns against both candidates, primarily targeting their commitment to hard-line conservative values.

The contenders are on board now as well, each questioning the other’s distance to the right.

Baumgardner seemed to have the upper hand early on, coming up just shy of the 70 percent majority he needed to knock White off the primary ballot at the state assembly in April.

But recent news of Baumgardner’s affiliation with a sex offender may weigh on Republican voters’ minds as they head to the primary polls Tuesday.

A convicted sex offender, Michael K. Frierson, 32, is currently living at a property owned by Baumgardner, the representative confirmed.

Frierson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sexual assault following incidents in 2004 involving a victim who was younger than 14 at the time, according to reports from various Denver news sources.

“He’s trying hard to get his life back on track,” Baumgardner said of Frierson. “I may not do as well as I did at the state assembly, but I still feel I’m going to do well in the race.”

White has also taken fire from third parties who highlighted her position supporting rights for same-sex couples. Baumgardner himself has questioned White’s level of commitment to conservative positions on social issues as well.

“I think fortunately because he came out with so many negatives it actually blew back on him,” White said. “The fact that Randy should question my values when I stand up for loving, committed couples and stable families, and then he puts his own family at risk by harboring a sex offender, just astounds me.”

White had spent more than $51,000 on the campaign as of June 18, primarily on advertising. Her campaign contributions included donations from a number of lobbyists, including some who work with firms that represent various tourism interests.

“I think the reason so many people donate to my campaign is that they have seen Randy and me in action down at the Capitol,” White said. “Contributions are an indication of the fact that they see me as an effective legislator.”

Baumgardner’s expenditures had climbed to more than $23,000 as of the June 18 reporting deadline, a chunk of which has been spent at hotels and gas stations.

The winner of Tuesday’s primary will go on to face Breckenridge Democrat Emily Tracy for the Senate District 8 seat representing Summit, Grand, Jackson, Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties.

The Denver Post contributed to the reporting of this story.

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