SD 16: Cheri Gerou, Don Ytterberg Out; Evergreen Businessman Tim Leonard In

The exciting opportunity for a Republican pickup in Senate District 16 with a departing incumbent Democrat Dan Gibbs has taken some interesting turns in the past week. State senate minority leader Josh Penry’s most highly touted replacement was Cheri Gerou. But the HD 25 representative told me today her current seat is “where I plan to stay.” So count out Gerou.

Then there’s Ali Hasan who, while refuting my initial speculations that he might contend, had suggested Jeffco GOP chair Don Ytterberg as a great candidate. However, Ytterberg says he has no desire to take another shot at SD 16 and is dedicated to his current work. “I made the commitment to work for the success of our party and I will do that to the best of my ability,” he said.

But as of today the Republican Party finally has an Evergreen businessman willing to jump in and battle for the open SD 16 seat. No, not that Evergreen businessman, the one who has expressed a firm commitment to the governor’s race and was left out of the crafting of the unity “Prosperity Platform.”

Tim Leonard, a father of six and the owner of a commercial real estate development firm for more than two decades, has talked it over and decided to throw his hat in the ring. Leonard is a relative newcomer to the Republican Party, having previously served as state chair of the Constitution Party. He also ran in 2006 for SD 16 on the minor party slate. But now, he says he is “just frustrated enough to help take back our state government.”

Leonard said his goal is to “return some financial sanity to our state budget decisions rather than raise all fees….” In addition, he sees reducing government regulation on business as imperative, and protecting “the right of citizens from the growing power of government.” More detail is likely to emerge in the coming weeks and months.

Perhaps best of all, at least to me, is the fact that Tim Leonard is a fellow Hillsdale College alumnus — though in a decade preceding my own four-year tenure there. Not only that, I’ve met Leonard personally on a few occasions (including this morning at the Jeffco Republican Men’s Club) and am markedly impressed by his sharp intellect, his depth of conviction and his personable demeanor. Virtus tentamine gaudet

At this point I don’t know if anyone else is planning to join the SD 16 race from the Republican side. But it’s good to see we have at least one potentially strong candidate ready to enter the fray for a seat that — given the right circumstances and leadership — could swing the majority in the Colorado state senate.

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