Editor’s note: An earlier story profiled Mary Parker, Democratic candidate in state House District 22. Justin Everett, her Republican opponent, is profiled here.
After Justin Everett was defeated in the 2006 primary election in state Senate District 22, he swore he would never run for office again.
“2006 was tough,” Everett said over an ice water at a neighborhood Safeway Starbucks some 22 days before the Nov. 6 election. But it wasn’t tough enough to keep the Republican from running again — this time in state House District 22.
“It was one of the nastiest primaries in the country. I worked as hard as this time. I raised the same amount of money. I made the time commitment. There was the same stress, the lack of sleep,” Everett said. “And then I lost. I’m just hoping if I’m successful it will all be worth it.”
So how does it feel this close to the election?
“It’s a mix of the adrenaline and excitement. I’m living for a normal night of sleep. I’m sleeping about four hours on the average. If I have a gap from 1 to 2 p.m., I might fall asleep at my desk,” Everett said. All of his e-mail is sent to his handheld, and he tries to respond to every one.
He is happy that he has distributed nearly 1,000 yard signs, and they are prominently displayed along the block in his Columbine West neighborhood, where he bought the house he grew up in.
So far Everett has spent about $42,000 in his race against Democrat Mary Parker and has received contributions from 300 individuals, including a significant number from small-business people as individuals.
His campaign donors include the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the National Federation of Independent Business and Comcast Corp.
He is a little miffed that he was criticized for being absent at an Oct. 11 League of Women Voters because he had to be at a wedding. It turns out it was a Friday wedding in Buffalo, N.Y., and Everett was co-host of the Thursday night rehearsal dinner.
The groom was Everett’s childhood friend, Chris. (They literally crashed into each other while riding their trikes.)
“I made the plans to be out of town a year ago,” Everett said. He was back on the sidewalks in the district by Sunday.
Everett is running with a lot more national political implications in the background than anyone can remember. Many believe that Colorado is a swing state, the overall vote here will depend on a couple of key counties, namely, Jefferson and Arapahoe.
“The way Jeffco goes is the way the state goes,” Everett said.
The Romney campaign has opened an office at West Ken Caryl Avenue and Garrison Street.
“It’s crazy,” Everett said. “We have just never heard of that in Jeffco before. Some voters may be annoyed with all the (telephone and mail) contacts, but they are paying attention to us.”
Romney made trips to Jefferson County on Sept. 23 (D’Evelyn High School) and Aug. 2 (Jeffco Fairgrounds). A Red Rocks visit was scheduled for Tuesday.
Everett believes his Republican base is strong, and he is focusing on capturing unaffiliated voters and Republicans who haven’t voted in every election, also known as “soft Republicans.”
“Our voter intensity is higher. Our turnout is going to be higher. We have to focus on the people who are going to make a difference, getting Republicans to the polls and getting a good percentage of the unaffiliated vote.”
An attorney who also holds an MBA, Everett has a dispute resolution business. He is a longtime community figure who for seven years was president of CoHOPE, the Council of HOAs for a Planned Environment.
He is running on a platform that calls for making Colorado a business-friendly state, lowering taxes and cracking down on lawsuit abuse.
Everett is the kind of candidate who lives and breathes politics and has a lot of contacts and supporters among high-profile Republican endorsers, such as former Colorado U.S. senator Bill Armstrong, former congressmen Bob Schaffer and Tom Tancredo, former state senator Mike Kopp and others.
He filed the paperwork to run for office in February 2011. He went to county and state Republican assemblies. He saved money and suspended his business at the beginning of 2012.
Former HD 28 (now HD 22) state representative Vickie Agler, founder of CoHOPE, has known Everett for about 15 years, since she was more active in politics.
“I think he is really bright and energetic,” she said. “The thing that impressed me was, I told him he needed to get more involved in the community. He took the advice. I’m impressed with his ability to listen and learn, and that’s the most important thing.”
In June Everett ran in the Republican primary against Loren Bauman, co-owner of Jared’s Garden and Gift Center. Everett captured 3,632 votes, or 65 percent, compared to 1,970, or 35 percent, for Bauman.
Leo Jankowski, 25, met Everett at the GOP booth at Summerset in 2004. “My interest in politics grew, and I became a big supporter, as well as a volunteer and donor,” Jankowski said. Jankowski likes Everett’s conservative values and “his ability to speak clearly on the local and federal issues.”
In the general election Nov. 6, Everett is facing Parker, a hard-working neophyte politician. Parker has been trying to knock on every door in the district. As of October, she had logged 800 miles and 20,000 front doors since March.
Parker is a small-business owner and volunteered for six years as a court-appointed special advocate. She is a working mom, a grandmother and a former computer systems engineer with Hewlett-Packard.
She is on the opposite end of the political spectrum from Everett. Parker supports ballot issues 3A and 3B, the property-tax increase for Jeffco schools; gay marriage; modifying the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights; and restrictions on automatic weapons. She is pro-choice. She moved to Colorado in 2005.
Everett believes that no taxes should be increased; opposes sanctioning gay marriage; is not worried about modifying TABOR; and isn’t interested in changing the current gun control laws. Everett is 100 percent pro-life, meaning he opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest. He moved to Colorado in 1978.
The way Everett describes it, he is running as if his life depended on it. He is continually sleep deprived. To save money, he never goes out to eat. It seems like it’s cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“It’s danish pastry and everything that’s bad,” Everett said. He is actually gaining weight, he notes sadly, while his basement treadmill gathers dust. “I can’t wait until this is over to go out and sit down at a restaurant.”
So, one wonders, why does he do this to himself?
“I’ve been helping candidates get elected for a long time. We need small-business people that are rooted in the community and want to fix jobs. After getting other people elected for a number of years, I decided to throw my hat in the ring,” Everett said.
This year people are really nervous about the economy, said Everett, who said he has talked to 6,200 people while walking the district and knocking on doors.
“People are worried about jobs, the state of the economy and government spending,” he said. “Maybe they took a pay cut at work. They worry about the ability to feed their family. Even if they are employed, they are worried about the future. They feel they are paying too much in taxes.”
Contact Vicky Gits at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 22. Follow her at Twitter.com/newsbyvicky.
Voter registrations by party in HD 22 as of Oct. 18
(Source: Jefferson County Elections Office)
Democratic: 12,139 active, 15,083, total
Republican: 19,620 active; 23,993, total
Unaffiliated: 15,558 active; 20,818, total