Routt County Commissioner Monger changes political affiliation
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A 20-foot papier-mache donkey still hangs in his garage, but Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger is no longer a registered Democrat.
Monger made the switch to an Independent on Wednesday and announced his decision in a letter to the editor.
He will govern under that new affiliation alongside fellow commissioners Tim Corrigan and Beth Melton, both Democrats.
Monger, who registered as a Democrat at age 17, has been frustrated with the direction of the party at the state and national levels. The 2018 Colorado election, which gave Democrats control of both the House and Senate, as well as the governorship, became a breaking point for Monger.
It was not the first time during his tenure as a commissioner that he saw a single party rule the trifecta of the state legislature. When Monger was first elected, in 2000, Republicans held that control under Gov. Bill Owens. In 2007, Gov. Bill Ritter oversaw a Democratic majority in all three chambers.
“Things were handled pretty respectfully during all those years,” Monger said.
This time, things feel different.
In his letter, Monger cited political polarization as a primary driver of his decision to disassociate from the Democratic Party. He feels that leftist lawmakers are using their newfound power to push more extreme legislation that does not reflect the interests of a majority of Coloradoans, especially in more rural areas like Routt County.
He pointed to the discrepancy that the vast majority of members from the state’s General Assembly come from urban areas along the I-70 corridor.
“Right now, the urbanites are controlling our legislature,” he said. “We in rural Colorado are really not getting much of a vote.”
Both Corrigan and Melton voiced support for Monger’s decision and do not expect it to change the way their relationship with him.
“When Doug comes in on Monday for our work session, he is going to be the same person,” Corrigan said.
Monger’s political switch did not come as a surprise to Corrigan, who has seen firsthand the commissioner’s growing frustration over the direction of the Democratic Party.
Corrigan, who has been a Democrat since he registered to vote at 18, still finds that the party reflects his own values — at least, for the most part.
“I certainly identify by and large with the Democratic Party,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that I agree with every single issue.”
He added that, at the local level, party affiliation does not factor in as heavily compared to state or national politics. That has been especially true among his fellow commissioners and the stances they take on issues.
“Ninety-eight percent of the time, partisanship is a complete non-factor in our deliberations,” he said.
Commissioner Melton, who comes from a long, family lineage of Democrats and has been one herself since she turned 18, agreed partisanship would not have a major impact among the commissioners going forward.
“I have a great working relationship with (Monger),” Melton said. “I don’t expect any change in that.”
Monger emphasized his decision is not a move to prepare for or deny a re-election campaign. He has not decided if he will run again in 2020, but if he does, he wants his political affiliation to reflect what he brings to the table.
“The people can decide if I’m doing a good job or not,” he said.
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