Carbondale lawyer Karl Hanlon visits Durango in trek to topple Tipton

Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 9:12 PM
Karl Hanlon, who currently serves as chief legal counsel for the city of Glenwood Springs, meets some of the people who showed up Monday night at Carver Brewing Co. to hear him at his Durango kickoff event for his campaign to win the Democratic Party’s nomination to take on U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, in Colorado’s 3rd U.S. Congressional District.

Karl Hanlon visited Durango Monday on his first day on the road in his quest to knock off U.S. Rep Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, and flip the Republican-leaning 3rd Congressional District in Colorado to the Democrats.

The Carbondale water lawyer who serves as chief legal counsel for the city of Glenwood Springs told a crowd at Carver Brewing Co. that his background growing up on a ranch in Jackson County at the northeastern tip of the 3rd Congressional District gives him the best chance of knocking off Tipton in 2018.

“I do have a background of working with people of different backgrounds, and listening to them, and finding answers to complex problems. I grew up ranching. I think that builds credibility with the rural community,” Hanlon told a crowd of about 40 people.

Hanlon, who announced his candidacy Nov. 29, joins two other Democrats seeking to upend Tipton’s four-term tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives. State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush of Steamboat Springs announced her run for Congress in July, and Chris Kennedy of Grand Junction filed his candidacy in September.

When asked whether providing a better health care system would entail moving to a “Medicare for all” approach, Hanlon declined to endorse single-payer universal government health care, saying: “I think the next step is a hybrid approach.”

He added the idea is to bring divided parties together in Washington to improve health care for Americans, not to build political silos that separate representatives from working together for practical solutions.

“I don’t think you can tell the American people: ‘We tried to fix it. It’s just too complex.’ And quit. It’s too important for people,” he said.

He added the eventual solution “may end up at single-payer,” but he acknowledged the complexity of the issue and recognized shortcomings in the Affordable Care Act. “Obamacare was not initiated well, and it did some things well like dealing with pre-existing coverage and expanding coverage, but it did a poor job in containing costs and providing competition. In parts of rural Colorado, you have only one choice for insurance.”

Hanlon said looking for solutions requires listening, compromise and “some humility.”

He picked issues of disagreement with the recently passed GOP proposal to reform the tax code, saying some provisions would hurt rural America.

He cited problems in how the measure limits carry-back losses as a tax credit to one year, which he said especially hurts farmers and ranchers who frequently end up in the red several years in a row before commodity markets turn around and they make a profit.

He also has problems with the way expensing capital investments is treated. “You can expense a new tractor, but you can’t on a used one,” he said.

Nathan Steele, campaign manager for Hanlon, said he didn’t think the division in America between pro- and anti-Donald Trump factions would ultimately be important in the 3rd District race, but ultimately, Democrats must find a way to win over Trump voters in the congressional district, where Trump defeated Hillary Clinton 52 percent to 40 percent.

Crystal Hartman, a Durangoan who was at Carver with three friends to share nachos, was impressed by Hanlon.

“I didn’t know he would be here, and I was glad to see him come to Carver’s; it’s a local institution, and to see him on the first day of campaigning was fascinating. I appreciate he seemed like a real human being. He seemed approachable and humble, and he was interested to hear what we wanted to say,” she said.