Dem backs out of House District 54 race

Citing a need to support a candidate who had a better chance of defeating Republican Matt Soper in the race for House District 54, Democratic candidate Erin Shipp left the race this week.

Shipp threw her hat into the ring back in April, when Matthew McGovern, the executive director of the House Majority Project, urged Mesa County Democrats to run candidates in all races and avoid leaving their candidacies unopposed.

Shipp is a retired automotive engineer who moved to Mesa County less than three years ago, who had previously served as mayor in an Oregon town. She's also the first transgender candidate to run for office in Mesa County.

Longtime businesswoman and Palisade town trustee Thea Chase qualified to join the race last month as an unaffiliated candidate, after turning in more than 800 signatures to petition onto the ballot.

The seat vacated by Rep. Yeulin Willett, who decided not to run for a third term, was a three-way race until Shipp bowed out.

The decision to leave the race came after a meeting with leaders in the Mesa County Democrats, Shipp said, who cited concerns that her candidacy would split the vote with Chase and make it more likely that Soper would win.

"We didn't want to divide the vote, that's basically what it was," said Maria Keenan, chairwoman of the Mesa County Democrats. "We decided we wanted to have a strong candidate and Erin Shipp graciously resigned."

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  • Erin McIntyre