Republican from Durango to challenge state Rep. Barbara McLachlan

Monday, April 16, 2018 3:36 PM

Republican Joe Brinkerhoff is challenging state House Rep. Barbara McLachlan in the November election.

The Durangoan said he wants to focus on improving transportation and education across the state.

"It is high time for a change in the House," he said.

Brinkerhoff, 70, was nominated to run during the 59th House Republican assembly in late March. But a clerical error in his voter registration and trouble communicating with the Colorado Republican Party delayed the announcement of his candidacy.


The political newcomer is a retired general contractor, pastor and a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy. He volunteered to run when he found out no other Republican had joined the race to represent Southwest Colorado. The House district includes Durango, Pagosa Springs, Silverton, Ridgway, Lake City and Gunnison.

He is critical of McLachlan and likened her to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because McLachlan followed her husband into politics. Mike McLachlan represented District 59 from 2013 to 2015.

"Her family has had two terms of failure in education and transportation," he said.

McLachlan, who is running for her second term, will face both Brinkerhoff and independent Paul Jones, a retired Colorado Parks and Wildlife game warden, in the general election.

Brinkerhoff describes himself as a "fighter and a winner like President Donald Trump." He said he could apply his experience in construction to improving the state's transportation system.

State spending to build the Bridge to Nowhere near Three Springs was "crazy wasteful," Brinkerhoff said, and plans to realign U.S. Highway 550 to connect to the interchange will add distance for travelers, he said.

"Every time somebody travels that road, they are going to lose a mile, and a mile is time," he said.

To improve education, Brinkerhoff would like to see Christianity taught in schools and a greater focus on math and science.

"They are learning a lot of humanistic junk, and it confuses them and makes them mentally ill. And then they go shoot up a school, and people wonder what's wrong," he said. He said that Jesus will heal mentally ill people, and it wouldn't cost anything.