In Monday’s announcement that Jerry Sonnenberg will run for state Senate’s District 1 seat, he talked about the same issues that led to the Weld County commissioners’ decision to attempt to form North Colorado.
That’s hardly a surprise. Sonnenberg, a Republican, is a rancher and farmer, longtime eastern Colorado stalwart from Sterling and representative of the 65th district who is on his fourth and final term. He’s prided himself on being the only farmer in the Colorado House of Representatives, and his politics have followed suit.
But Sonnenberg also believes the many legislative hurdles facing North Colorado will be too great for the proposed 51st state.
“I think the federal government would allow Puerto Rico in before they would create a 51st state there,” Sonnenberg said in a Monday interview.
Sonnenberg, however, praised the commissioners’ movement. District 1, currently held by term-limited Republican Greg Brophy — who is running for governor — covers 21,000 square miles in 11 counties, including much of Weld. Sonnenberg said the state senate should possibly be divided up by geography instead of population, and that idea may also be easier to swallow for the legislative bodies that would have to approve at 51st state.
“It’s a great movement that stimulates the conversation about how our urban cousins have ignored our rural contributions to the state,” he said.
Sonnenberg said he hasn’t heard of other Republican interest in the seat. In a Monday news release, Sonnenberg emphasized his long-standing support of oil and gas, agriculture, water storage and other issues facing rural Colorado.
“The two largest industries that drive our economy in this state are oil and gas followed by agriculture,” he said in the release. “Both are rooted in rural areas of the state, and our urban cousins need to know how their actions can hurt our way of life.”