The 2018 Colorado governor’s race is already beginning to take shape. Here’s an early look at the candidates to replace term-limited Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D).
Jared Polis (D):
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, the Boulder Democrat who represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, announced his gubernatorial bid in June. He told The Denver Post his platform would focus on getting the state to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, providing free access to full-day preschool or kindergarten for those three and older, and encouraging companies in Colorado to provide stock options to employees. He would be Colorado’s first openly gay Governor.
Noel Ginsburg (D):
Ginsburg is a political newcomer with a background in business. An entrepreneur, Ginsburg founded Intertech Plastics while still in college. He also has a history of civic engagement. He launched CareerWise Colorado, which provides youth business apprenticeships, and served as board chair of Mile High United Way and as president of the Denver Public Schools Foundation.
Mike Johnston (D):
Johnston is a former state senator who represented northeast Denver from 2009 until last year. During his time as a lawmaker, Johnston championed criminal justice reform, banning the use of chokeholds in law enforcement and pushing the CLEAR Act. He advised Barack Obama on the education in his 2008 campaign, and has said he plans to focus on making college more affordable. He had a record-breaking fundraising period, with at least $625,000 for the first quarter of 2017. He’s vowed not to accept money from political action committees (PACs).
Cary Kennedy (D):
Kennedy served as state treasurer from 2007 to 2011, then as Denver’s chief financial officer and deputy mayor. She’s said education would be her top priority. In 2000, she wrote and led the campaign for Amendment 23, which reduced budget cuts to public schools. She told The Colorado Independent that her biggest feat as state treasurer was implementing the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program, which allocated funds to build new schools and renovate existing ones. Kennedy announced her campaign in a controversial Facebook live video.
Erik Underwood (D):
Erik Underwood is a former Republican who competed in a crowded primary race for Michael Bennet’s U.S. Senate seat last year, but received only six votes at the Colorado GOP convention. Underwood told The Gazette he left the GOP because of Trump, and wants to appeal to more moderate Republican voters. A 37-year-old businessman from Boulder who’s never held public office, Underwood wants to bring a fresh face to a race otherwise filled with “establishment people who just don’t get it” and “don’t understand what the last election meant.” He said he’d advocate for medicaid expansion and improvements to transportation in the state.
George Brauchler (R):
Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler is best known for prosecuting the Aurora theater shooter. He’s been an outspoken proponent of the death penalty, which he unsuccessfully sought in that trial, losing the jury decision by three votes. He told Westword that he’s running in part because of the upcoming opportunity to redraw congressional districts, in addition to improving transportation in the state, pinning the shortcomings of the state’s transportation system on Obamacare. Brauchler, who will run for office while remaining in his high-profile district attorney job, was once was a regular voice on Denver conservative talk radio shows and has drawn ire from progressives for his comment on the radio that “the Navy are the light-in-the-loafers service.”
Victor Mitchell (R):
Businessman Victor Mitchell, who served one term in the Colorado State House in 2007, has founded and run several businesses in the wireless, technology, manufacturing and real estate fields. He told The Denver Post that he believes “people really want an outsider, somebody that knows how to fix things and problem solve in a meaningful way.” He’s also said “We need business people who are proven managers.” As governor, Mitchell would focus on cutting business regulations to spur economic growth and increasing transparency for marijuana tax revenue. He’s also been an outspoken supporter of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).
Steve Barlock (R):
Republican Steve Barlock is best known in Colorado as a former co-chair for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in Colorado. Barlock also served as an alternate delegate for Trump at last year’s Republican National Convention. In his announcement, he billed himself as the only candidate who is “truly loyal to Donald Trump,” and promised to “drain the swamp” of Colorado politics. His other plans include making sure the troubled Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) is fully funded.
Lew Gaiter (R):
Gaiter is a Larimer County Commissioner who plans to focus on bridging the divide between rural and urban areas. He told the Loveland Reporter-Herald that that includes addressing race issues and strengthening the economy, which he said is lagging behind in the state’s rural counties. Gaiter grew up in a family of Democrats, but switched over because he felt the Republican party was more in line with christian values, especially when it comes to abortion. He’s gotten support from state Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) and former U.S. Senate GOP candidate Darryl Glenn.
Doug Robinson (R):
Robinson is yet another candidate with business experience who touts his status as an outsider in Colorado politics. He did, however, help run his uncle Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign in Colorado. He also considered a U.S. Senate run last year but quickly withdrew his candidacy. A recently-retired investment banker, Robinson played a key role in running the anti-recreational marijuana lobbying group Smart Colorado. When it comes to the issues facing Colorado, Robinson told the Denver Post he’d focus on the state budget, which he called “a mess” and wants to improve by cutting spending.
Greg Lopez (R):
Lopez is the former mayor of Parker, CO, the former state director of the Small Business Administration, and a U.S. Air Force veteran. He told CBS 4’s Shaun Boyd that as governor, he’d focus on representing all of Colorado’s 64 counties, not just the Front Range, in addition to ensuring that minority communities have a voice in the state. If elected, he would become Colorado’s first Hispanic governor.
Walker Stapleton (R):
Rumors of a gubernatorial run from Stapleton have been circulating for the past few months, but he said in February that he’s waiting for others to jump in the race before he makes an announcement. As the current state treasurer and a second cousin to George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, he’d be among the Republican candidates with the most name recognition.
Cynthia Coffman (R):
Another prominent Colorado Republican, Coffman has reportedly been eyeing a run for governor. She currently serves as Attorney General, and she’s married to U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO).
Kent Thiry (R):
As of April 12, Thiry, who’s the CEO of DaVita HealthCare Partners, is officially undecided as to whether he’ll run for governor.
Updated 4/28 to include an additional announcement from Doug Robinson.
Updated 7/10 to include announcements from Jared Polis, Greg Lopez, and Steve Barlock.
Updated 7/17 to reflect Ed Perlmutter’s announcement that he would drop out of the race and not run for re-election in Colorado’s 7th District.