Palisade vineyard owner and Republican John “Rusty” Price will challenge incumbent Laura Bradford (R-Collbran) for the Colorado House District 54 seat this election year. Price filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office this morning, making official a run that has been the subject of rumor since Price resigned as Chairman of the HD 54 Board of Directors last Thursday.

Speculation over a potential primary challenge to Rep. Bradford has been present since her controversial traffic stop in Denver a month ago for suspected DUI.  The incident, which resulted in an apology to Rep. Bradford from the Denver Police for initially suggesting, erroneously, that she had used an obscure Constitutional provision to escape charges, and a dismissal by a House Ethics Committee of any charges of wrong-doing, has nonetheless left the impression on many that she is a weakened candidate, and vulnerable to a primary in this heavily Republican district.

Mr. Price, who owns Valley Vista Vineyards in Palisade, said in an interview that he has been a registered Republican for decades, and active in the local tea party movement for several years, saying that he felt it “showed strength for the right reasons, and at the right time.” He declined to comment on how much of an influence the recent controversy surrounding Rep. Bradford had on his decision to run.

Mr. Price will formally announce his candidacy this evening before the monthly meeting of the Western Slope Conservative Alliance, at 6:30 pm, in the Grand Junction City Hall Auditorium, 250 N 5th Street. Former Congressman Tom Tancredo will be later speaking at the event, which brings together an average of 200 local conservative activists once a month to hear various speakers and announcements pertaining to the conservative movement.

Rep. Bradford, who in addition to serving as the HD 54 representative in the General Assembly, also serves as Chair of the House Local Government Committee, could not be reached for comment.

Rep. Bradford and Mr. Price are currently the only two active candidates to have filed with the Secretary of State’s office for the seat.