Former GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo’s departure from the gubernatorial race raised the question of whether Arapahoe-area District Attorney George Brauchler might have defeated Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, if Brauchler hadn’t abandoned his quest to be governor in favor of running for Colorado attorney general.
The hypothetical question has become more interesting in recent months, as Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s gubernatorial campaign has proven weaker than expected on the fundraising side, and reporters have spotlighted organizational and other lapses as well.
Brauchler exited the gubernatorial contest after Coffman made a last-minute decision to run for governor, leaving Brauchler, whose campaign was lacking money and zeitgiest, to conclude for multiple reasons that the attorney-general race made more sense for him and for Colorado.
“He had the same exact problem I did,” said former Congressman Tom Tancredo, who dropped out of the gubernatorial race last month, when asked if he thought Brauchler could have defeated Stapleton. “He was having a difficult time raising money. That is what it would take.”
Tancredo pointed out that both Brauchler and Stapleton garnered below 10 percent in polling before Brauchler dropped out, underlining the need of both candidates to raise their profiles significantly.
“Both of them would have had to spend a lot of money developing the name-recognition part first,” said Tancredo. “You know, Walker can do that. I don’t know if George could have gotten the money for it. That would have been the difficult hurdle he would have had, regardless of what I did.”
Most political observers agreed with Tancredo that the fundraising advantage of Stapleton, who is a Bush cousin, would likely have boosted him to victory over Brauchler.
“I don’t know if he would have been able to pull it off, but I would have voted for Brauchler,” said KNUS host and former Fox 31 Denver reporter Julie Hayden.
“I like to believe that you don’t need all that money to win an election and get the nomination, but the reality is, you do,” she said, referencing Stapleton’s vast fundraising abilities and Brauchler’s low fundraising totals.
But Hayden, who believes a Republican can win the general election next year, pointed out that Brauchler might have occupied Tom Tancredo’s lane in the crowded gubernatorial primary and won the nomination, with Stapleton and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman splitting more moderate conservative votes.
George Athanasopoulos, who lost to U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) in the last election, thinks Brauchler would have had as good a chance as any of the Republicans at winning the primary.
“I think he could have won,” said George Athanasopoulos, Brauchler was very good, but every candidate has his advantages and disadvantages. I still believe it’s a jump among the rest of them. Any of them can win the primary.”
“And I think any of our top-tier Republicans can win [the general election],” continued Athanasopoulos, “but that requires a political infrastructure that none of the Republicans have.”