Jon Becker switches course, will not to run for another term
By Marianne Goodland
State Capitol Correspondent
Rep. Jon Becker, a Fort Morgan Republican, announced this morning that he will forego a bid for his fourth and final term in the Colorado House, just three weeks after deciding to mount a re-election campaign. He intends instead to run for the board of county commissioners for Morgan County, a seat he held once before.
Becker has served in the Colorado House since winning the House District 65 seat in northeastern Colorado in 2010. He sat out the 2012-13 session after redistricting put him in the same House district as then-Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling. When Sonnenberg ran for the Senate in 2014, Becker won his second term in the House and again in 2016.
Becker had been somewhat ambivalent about a run for a fourth and final term. His eldest son,, Grant, is is entering his senior year of high school in the fall and his younger son, J.T., will be a junior, and Becker said he hoped to spend time with his sons during those critical final two years of high school and as they made their way toward college.
But a recent car accident made Becker and his family reconsider their options. J.T. was involved in a car accident (he wasn’t the driver) and that prompted Becker to ask his family about the future.
Since returning to the House for the 2015 session, Becker has been a part of the minority in the Colorado House, but one of the most effective members of that caucus on issues such as water, concurrent enrollment in high school and college. His crowning achievement may be last year’s landmark omnibus bill on Sustainability of Rural Colorado, which spared Colorado hospitals a half-billion dollar budget cut and prevented the possible closure of at least a dozen rural hospitals. It also provided the mechanism for funding nearly $2 billion in transportation projects, with a quarter of that going to rural communities, as well as a $30 million boost to rural public schools.
Republican Senate President Pro tem Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling, who has been a mentor to Becker, was overcome with emotion when talking about Becker’s decision to leave the state Capitol.
“Jon is a brilliant man and a brilliant friend,” Sonnenberg told Colorado Politics. “He has done wonderful things down here at the Capitol for his district and the entire state. I would argue there isn’t a sharper legislator than Jon Becker, on the political side, policy side and budget side.”
Sonnenberg said he was disappointed by Becker’s decision but understands that family comes first.
As a county commissioner, should he win, “I will continue to seek him for counsel and advice. You can’t replace a Jon Becker,” whom Sonnenberg called a man of honor and integrity.
Rep. Patrick Neville of Castle Rock leads the Republican caucus in the House. He said Becker has been an effective voice for all of Colorado, not just for his district or even just for rural Colorado. “Jon’s one of those folks we all lean on for advice. It’s a loss.”
Democratic House Majority Leader KC Becker of Boulder also weighed in on the announcement (they aren’t related). “Jon Becker was able to distinguish himself at the Capitol because he works very hard and very effectively for his district. He goes out on the limb” when necessary, and builds relationships where it’s needed. “That kind of hard work, and being that effective is rare.”
The northeastern Colorado district is reliably Republican.