Colorado’s Senate Republican leader Chris Holbert is preaching the value of working collaboratively with members of the opposing party, citing his work with former State Rep. Fran Coleman, a Democrat, as evidence.
While guest-hosting KNUS 710-AM’s Steffan Tubbs Show on Dec. 31, Holbert interviewed Coleman about their experience working together despite their ideological differences.
Holbert explained that he first met Coleman after he lobbied to kill a bill she had sponsored. Holbert was working for Colorado Mortgage Lenders Association (CMLA), a statewide trade association, which often entailed lobbying at the Capitol while Coleman was representing House District 1.
“Later on, Fran and I started to talk, and I think she started to trust me,” Holbert said, “I remember one day I asked her about a bill, and she actually handed me a copy of the bill and said, ‘Chris, go through this bill, mark it up, write down questions you want me to ask.’ And that was just so rewarding because here’s this Democrat legislator and the first thing I did — that she was involved in — was helped kill her bill. And yet she trusted me.”
After Coleman left the House of Representatives — she was term limited — Holbert hired Coleman to work for him at the CMLA. In their interview Coleman told Holbert that the respect they had for one another was a primary reason for their harmonious political partnership.
“I think that you and I both march to the tune of civility, you know, good civic discourse,” Coleman said, “Meaning that you and I, if we were serving at the same time, probably would not vote exactly the same on the wedge issues. But that doesn’t mean that isn’t a reason to be friends and or at least be respectful of one another.”
During the radio interview, Holbert repeatedly referenced what he perceived to be an extremely divisive political culture both across the country and within Colorado. He and Coleman’s relationship was meant to be a sign that civility and respect should again rule the political conversation.
“Watching from afar, it saddens me to see our great nation so divided as violence has erupted in Washington D.C.,” Holbert said. “While I honor the people’s right to peacefully protest, I strongly condemn such violence and the siege upon our nation’s Capitol. Let us all renew our allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and to the Colorado constitution and work together in the interests of the People of Colorado.”
Holbert emphasized on the radio that politicians can work amicably with the other party while still holding true to their beliefs. He touted his conservative voting record — Holbert was named the Senate’s 2020 Taxpayer Champion by the Colorado Union of Taxpayers — and his success campaigning in Colorado’s 30th Senate District which includes Highlands Ranch and Lone Tree.
“And Fran one of the things that I guess I’m known for and I give you credit,” Holbert said on air. “I think that there’s a difference between being pragmatic and moderate, that the district I represent, they expect me to have a conservative voting record.”
As for Coleman, she pointed to the Transportation Expansion Project as an example of her reaching across the aisle. The funding method for the T-REX project, as the massive highway expansion project addressing the I-25/I-225 interchange was also labelled, was not as popular among Democrats. But Coleman claimed her potential support gave Democrats leverage to ensure HOV lanes and public transit were included in the project.
Coleman was a member of Colorado’s House of Representatives from 1999 to 2006. While she is a Democrat, Coleman describes herself as fiscally conservative. Coleman had a long career as a community activist in Colorado and is currently on Denver’s Welfare Reform Board, where she was first appointed by Mayor Michael Hancock in 2011.
“I’m just thankful to still be able to move others to a more pragmatic solution,” Coleman told Holbert. “This world today is very, very divided and I work hard to try and mend it.”