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Publish Date: 8/3/2006

2 vying to unseat Fitz-Gerald
GOP hopefuls point to marriage, immigration as their biggest issues

DENVER — Two western Boulder County Republicans, Marty Neilson and Barry Thoma, are vying for the chance to unseat one of the Legislature’s top Democratic leaders.

Marty Neilson said in a recent interview that she already considers the Senate District 16 incumbent, Jefferson County Democrat Joan Fitz-Gerald, to be her opponent. But Neilson must first best Thoma in the GOP primary election Tuesday before confronting Fitz-Gerald in the general-election campaign.
Marty Neilson

Said Neilson of Fitz-Gerald: “One of the things we most disagree on is the definition of marriage.”

Senate President Fitz-Gerald, who is expected to retain that post if she’s re-elected and Democrats retain control of the Senate, sponsored a November measure to give same-sex couples people the right to enter into officially recognized “domestic partnerships.”

But Neilson said she believes marriage, and anything granting the legal rights to partnerships resembling marriage, should be strictly limited to “a union between one man and one woman.”

Thoma, for his part, has listed the need “to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants to Colorado” as the first of several issues he discusses on his campaign Web site.

Illegal immigration “is out of control,” Thoma, who could not be reached for a telephone interview, says on the site. “The economic and social costs to our state and to our society are immense.”

Neilson also said illegal immigration “is one of the biggest issues defining our country,” and she said the new laws that emerged from last month’s special legislative session “did not go far enough to address the issues we take care of here in Colorado.”

Barry Thoma

Senate District 16 represents parts of Boulder and Jefferson counties and all of Grand, Clear Creek, Gilpin and Summit counties.

Thoma, who identifies himself on his Web site as a “small-government Republican,” has said other issues in his Senate campaign include the need to “limit the scope and size of state government” and a call for “long-term environmental stewardship.”

“As an Air Force officer and as an engineer I have spent a lifetime solving difficult problems,” Thoma said. “Now I would like to use my God-given abilities to help the state of Colorado to solve some of its difficult problems.”

Neilson has said other issues she’s pushing include the need to “honor and uphold the spirit as well as the letter of TABOR,” the Colorado Constitution’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, as well as her opposition to “any new net tax increases.”

“I’m a Republican, I’m running as a Republican, and I intend to vote as one,” Neilson said.

Neilson said that as a party activist, she already been fighting hard every day “for Republican principles” such as “lower taxes, smaller government, individual responsibility, protection of Second Amendment rights; protection of life.”

Also seeking the Senate District 16 seat is Libertarian candidate Tim Leonard of Kittredge.

John Fryar can be reached by e-mail at jfryar@times-call.com.

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