Representative to the 113th United States Congress
After two years of stalemate in Congress, Brandon Shaffer, Democratic candidate for District 4, should snag the seat simply because he and incumbent District 2 Rep. Jared Polis share enough in common that the two might be able to build some momentum, at least for the state of Colorado.
Shaffer’s a known coalition builder. The former naval officer who served on a destroyer in Japan joined the state legislature in 2004 and was unanimously elected its president in 2009.
“I’m a problem-solver,” he says.
“That’s what I’ve done in the state legislature, that’s what I focus on is getting the job done and solving problems, working together in a collaborative manner to move forward, and I think that’s what’s not happening in Washington, D.C. I think I can do better.”
Visiting constituents in the district’s 22 counties has put a lot of miles on his car, he says, but he’s hearing similar issues from all over the state — people are concerned about jobs, educational opportunities and managing the national debt. Shaffer has tailored his campaign to respond to what he’s heard in those conversations.
Shaffer, who used a Navy ROTC scholarship to complete college at Stanford University, is an advocate for making a college education affordable for more people by supporting Pell Grants and investing in early education programs like Head Start pre-schools and full-day kindergarten will be key components to improving the education system in the country. A strong education system will support a healthy economy, he says.
“We’ve got to get the economy going again, we need to continue to create jobs and opportunities for people,” Shaffer says. And, he adds, “We’ve got to get our arms around our national deficit and our national debt to become more fiscally responsible at the federal level as well.”
His opponent, Republican incumbent Cory Gardner, has made energy among the issues most frequently addressed in legislation he sponsors, and has particularly been a proponent of off-shore drilling. The first bill introduced during this, the congressman’s freshman term, was to “streamline the permitting process for drilling offshore in Alaska” by exempting those operations and the vessels servicing them from Clean Air Act requirements and prohibiting the EPA from having any authority over consideration, issuance or denial of permits. The “Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011” passed the House, and has seen no action in Senate.
Gardner also sponsored, and saw passed in the House, the “Domestic Energy and Jobs Act,” which also provided for increased oil and gas exploration, development and production under leases of federal lands.
Shaffer says the energy portfolio for the country needs to be balanced and the country should continue to provide tax credits for wind energy to support the continued development of that technology.
Gardner did not respond to requests for an interview by press deadline.
The district’s composition presents a tough race for Shaffer. Although 2012 voter registration numbers show almost 20,000 more registered active Democratic voters in the district than there were in 2010, the number of registered active Republicans is up by 10,000, and the count for active registered independents is down by almost 15,000.