Schwartz edges Rankin in state senate nail biter

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenNovember 3, 2010
It came down to the wire but Sen. Gail Schwartz kept her seat and the state Senate for the Democrats.
Commissioner Rachel Richards gets out the vote for Schwartz in front of the Cantina in Aspen on Tuesday.
Troy Hooper

Beating her Republican challenger Bob Rankin of Aspen by just 832 votes out of more than 49,500 cast, Schwartz didn't know she had won the race until all the ballots were finally counted this morning. Her victory assures the Democrats will hang on to the Colorado Senate after losing the state House.

“This was a difficult race for many Democrats” Schwartz told Real Aspen on Wednesday. “We've maintained our majority and I'm happy with that. ... I think the voters wanted to see more balance.”

Early returns saw Rankin off to a large lead largely because of Republican support that showed up for him in Delta County, which was one of the first counties in Senate District 5 to report its results. But as the night wore on and Tuesday morphed into Wednesday, Schwartz climbed back into the race and, finally, into the lead after returns from Chaffee County finally saw the light early this morning.

“We've conceded the race,” confirmed Rankin's wife and campaign manager, Joyce. “The early number that came in had us very optimistic, but as the numbers kept coming in we noticed she was getting closer. … Bob did talk with Sen. Schwartz and they had a nice conversation.”

Bob Rankin campaigned in front of the historic Hotel Jerome in Aspen on Election Day.
Troy Hooper

The two opponents may have had a nice conversation today but the campaign wasn't so nice. A group supporting Rankin called the Western Tradition Partnership mailed out fliers that attacked Schwartz's support of renewable energy with a photo of her superimposed over Donald Trump. The executive director of Colorado Conservation Voters immediately blasted the ads for being in “poor taste.”

Schwartz's supporters in turn portrayed Rankin as “Big Oil Bob” who would be a mouthpiece for the oil and gas industry. Rankin said he would've preferred “Big Coal Bob” since he supports coal miners.

Now that the election is over, Rankin's plans are about as clear as as coal.

“We will probably go on another journey but this time I get to choose what it's going to be,” Joyce Rankin laughed. “But this was a great experience. We wouldn't trade it for anything.”

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