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Timing isn’t quite everything, but it sure is important. And State Rep. Edie Hooton’s recent timing was a little off.

Early this month, Hooton decided to withdraw from her reelection race for House District 10, citing the all-consuming nature of the job and a desire to spend more time with family — two perfectly acceptable reasons to leave any job, especially one that is rather public and highly demanding.

The problem, of course, was Hooton’s timing. She filed to run for reelection, campaigned and won an uncontested primary, only to step aside before the general election. So, while there is plenty of time to get a new Democrat onto the November ballot, voters won’t have a say in who that Democrat will be.

Since the primary is long over and candidates must be finalized by Sept. 9 to appear on the November ballot, the Boulder County Democratic Party will choose a candidate from the seven potential nominees who have thrown their hats into the ring. Such is the lawful practice for filling a vacancy of this nature in the Colorado House.

Boulder Mayor Aaron Brockett, RTD Director Lynn Guissinger, City Council member Junie Joseph, political advocate Celeste Landry, BVSD science teacher Tina Mueh, sustainable environmentalist Jerry Greene and business professional Xanthe Thomassen are those who are in contention for the position.

The BoCo Dems will be hosting an open forum on the 13th and will choose the candidate in a live-streamed meeting on the 15th. Ideally, the party will be somewhat in tune with the will of the voters, and party members will have a good idea about who among the candidates will make a good representative for Boulder.

These consolations, however, cannot replace the will of the people. Due to a political landscape in Boulder that heavily favors Democrats, most of the process to determine who will represent districts like House District 10 takes place during the primary since it is overwhelmingly likely that whoever wins the Democratic primary will win the general election. Now, with the BoCo Dems choosing the Democratic candidate, that process has been lost.

For her part, Hooton is adamant that she didn’t disenfranchise anyone. Voters could have had a say by fielding a candidate in the primary to edge her off the general election ballot. But instead, she ran unopposed.

She also explained that it is not uncommon for people to drop out of races. “There is a reason why the county party has a standing vacancy committee — this happens all the time,” she said in a recent interview. “And the state has statutes that address withdrawals. This is a common practice.”

More candidly, she noted that despite all the success she’s had getting her bills passed, she knows she is not “irreplaceable.” And her belief that any one of the potential candidates would make a great representative is so strong that she said she won’t endorse any of them.

“I think Boulder has been and will continue to be very well represented,” she said.

In most circumstances, stepping down from a job is acceptable for any number of reasons. But the more responsibility tied to that job, the more complicated it gets. Rep. Hooton realized her time was over, and that’s okay. Being a state representative is demanding — Hooton said she often worked 100-hour weeks when the legislature was in session. And the public nature of the job is unforgiving. It is anything but easy.

But, while it is understandable to want to step back — and if you want to step back from politics, then it is good to do so sooner than later — Hooton’s timing has limited the choices of Boulder voters. Instead of learning about the values and platforms and agendas of a diverse and qualified group of candidates and then electing a nominee during a lively Democratic primary, Boulder voters will simply get a binary choice: Democrat or Republican. It’s not a bad choice, but it is a limited one.

—Gary Garrison for the Editorial Board

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