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Colorado civil union supporter defeated in state Senate primary

By Nic Garcia| Out Front Colorado
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
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DENVER — A Colorado Republican state senator who supported the Colorado Civil Union Act has lost her primary battle.

State Rep. Randy Baumgardner (R-Cowdrey, Co.), beat state Sen. Jean White of Hayden by a 20-point spread.

Baumgardner, who has served in the state House of Representatives since 2009, voted against the civil union bill on two committees.

Jean White (left) and Randy Baumgardner

“The Republican elite have a clear message,” said Brad Clark, executive director of the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization One Colorado.

“Not only did they remove a female legislator from office, but they’ve replaced her with a guy like Randy Baumgardner who was a ring leader in the filibuster that killed the civil union bill and brought the House down,” he said.

White was one of three GOP female lawmakers. She was appointed to her seat in 2011 to replace her husband who was appointed to an executive office by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The civil union bill, sponsored by gay Denver Democrats Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Mark Ferrandino, cleared the state Senate in both 2011 and 2012 with bipartisan support — including White’s.

Similarly, the bill died in the GOP-controlled House both years.

White brought the Senate floor to tears in 2011 when she explained her vote.

“It occurred to me, that if I did not come to the mic, in support of this bill today that I would be voting quietly for it, but not having the courage to stand up for what is right. Not having the courage for me to step out of the shadows and tell my story,” she said.

“I have two brothers, they each have two children. One has two daughters and one has two sons. And they each have a child who is gay. My niece and my nephew, whom I have loved from the moment they were born. My nephew who so proud of me that he came to be here for my swearing in.

Today, I want him to know that I am proud of him, by voting for this today. My vote today is for love, respect and commitment. My vote today is for my niece and my nephew.”

The LGBT community instantly adopted White as a hero.

And they supported her campaign, too.

One Colorado’s small donor committee made campaign contributions. Support from gay activist and philanthropist Tim Gill was also funneled into the race through a network of progressive organizations, a source familiar with the primary told Out Front.

The primary battle between White and Baumgardner turned into one of the state’s ugliest. Direct mail pieces accused White of not supporting traditional family values. The postcard featured two men kissing and was paid by a group out of Washington D.C.

Baumgardner was attacked for votes he made that included raising fees.

Earlier this month FOX31 was the first to report that Baumgardner was housing an unregistered sex offender.

Baumgardner said he knew about his ranch hand’s past.

“It’s outrageous that harboring a sex offender is less controversial with primary voters than supporting civil unions,” said a GOP source who declined to be identified. “If we lose in November, this is why.”

Meanwhile, the Colorado Log Cabin Republicans said they hope to work with Baumgardner and convince him to support civil union legislation if he’s elected to the seat in November.

“The Colorado Log Cabin Republicans thanks and will miss Sen. White for her fair-minded, pro-equality voice in the Senate,” spokesman Alexander Hornaday said. “We look forward to the opportunity to persuade Rep. Baumgardner, should he become Sen. Baumgardner, of the conservative value of encouraging and supporting stable LGBT families.”

© OutFront Colorado.
An LGBTQ Nation media partner.
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