Hislop tops ballot in HD 54; no Democratic opposition

By Ellen Miller

GRAND JUNCTION — Despite accusations of being a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and a Democrat in disguise, retired Secret Service agent Bob Hislop of Fruita easily won top line in the House District 54 Republican assembly Saturday and nearly had the ballot to himself.

Hislop, 66, garnered 57 of the 100 delegate votes, while Ray Scott, 53 and a businessman, got 34 votes to squeak on to the ballot. David Cox, a 28-year-old whose checkered youthful arrest record made local headlines, received nine votes to be closed off from the August primary ballot and fell one vote short of being eligible to petition on.

Saturday’s assembly, with delegates from Mesa and Delta counties, likely decided the election’s outcome. The vastly outnumbered Democrats in District 54 have no candidate this year, so the winner of the August primary will succeed state Rep. Steve King, who’s running for Senate District 7, the seat being vacated by Josh Penry.

Hislop not only won overwhelmingly in the assembly, he has substantially outraised Scott, $13,548 to Scott’s $1,158.

Doug Thompson of Grand Junction, who seconded Scott’s nomination despite not residing in HD 54, said in his remarks that Scott didn’t raise much money “because he didn’t want to ask you for your hard-earned money just to get to this point.”

All three candidates spoke against the state’s new oil and gas regulations, called for lower taxes and fees and pledged support for small business.

“They call us the party of ‘no’, and we are,’” Hislop said. “We are the party of k-n-o-w. Republicans will take the House, the Senate and the governor’s office and I want to be part of that posse.’”

Scott stressed his construction and oil and gas background and said he would form a citizen’s council to advise him. He called for the state “to privatize everything we can and have no more fees and no more taxes. I’m a moderate or liberal’s worst nightmare.’”

While there was no name-calling at the assembly, there’s been plenty of it in letters to the editor and online.

Hislop has been accused of describing himself on a Democratic website as an “RID,” for Republican-Independent-Democrat. A website set up to battle Hislop, www.notohislop.com, is run by anonymous authors whom some Hislop supporters suspect are Tea Partiers.

A few Hislop supporters, meanwhile, contend Scott has a sketchy business background.

Hislop pledged to “stay on the high road and out of the gutter,” and Scott made no accusations himself.

Kevin King, who nominated Scott, stressed Scott’s conservative, pro-life and pro-marriage stands and said Scott is endorsed to “all the Tea Party groups on the Western Slope.”

Hislop’s Republican credentials were touted by Fruita Mayor Ken Henry, who nominated Hislop, and by Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger and Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee, who gave seconding speeches.

Cox had a short time in the political arena, but supporters said they hoped he would “learn from the experience” and come back in the future. As a high school and college student, records show, Cox was cited 13 times for being a minor in possession of alcohol and once had his driver’s license revoked. Local media outlets reported extensively on his record prior to the assembly.