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J. Paul Brown won’t challenge Rep. Barbara McLachlan for House seat

Local rancher has served in Colorado Legislature on and off since 2010

For local political junkies, don’t expect another chapter in the J. Paul Brown vs. McLachlans battle over Colorado House District 59.

Former Republican Statehouse Representative and local rancher Brown recently said he will not run for the seat in the November election, a position he has held on and off since 2010.

“My priorities have always been, God, family and then the Legislature,” Brown posted to his Facebook page Wednesday.

“I put my heart and soul into my legislative duties and worked as hard as I could. However, we have expanded our agriculture enterprise, and at this time, I will not be able to put the effort needed and deserved for the people of the 59th District.”

Brown, 64, who has previously served as a La Plata County commissioner and on the Ignacio School Board, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, beating Democratic challenger Brian O’Donnell 16,574 to 13,555.

District 59 covers a sliver of Southwest Colorado including Durango, Pagosa Springs, Silverton, Ridgway, Lake City and up to Gunnison.

Two years later in 2012, however, Brown was ousted by Democratic challenger Mike McLachlan, a Durango lawyer, by a narrow 21,632 to 20,715 vote.

In 2014, Brown struck back, beating the incumbent McLachlan 17,280 to 17,110.

But in 2016, Brown was ousted again, this time by Barbara Hall McLachlan, Michael McLachlan’s wife, 23,336 to 22,661.

That race was the most expensive general election House race in the state, with more than $311,000 raised between the two candidates. It also drew considerable attention from special-interest groups in the swing district.

While there was speculation Brown may run again, his post this week squashed any chance of that.

“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all of the thousands of supporters throughout the state, but especially from the 59th District,” Brown wrote. “I will continue to be active in maintaining our freedoms that are the reason for our prosperity.”

Brown told The Durango Herald on Thursday his family’s decision to expand its ranching business was one of the main factors in not running again. He said he intends to stay politically active in local and state matters.

It was unclear Thursday who the Republican party will chose to challenge McLachlan this year. According to Colorado Secretary of State records, the only person to officially register as a candidate is McLachlan.

McLachlan confirmed to the Herald on Thursday she intends to seek re-election.


Apr 3, 2018
Independent from Gunnison to challenge House Rep. Barbara McLachlan
Nov 7, 2016
Brown concedes state house seat to McLachlan
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