Centennial businessman and former lawyer Tom Kim kicked off his campaign for state senate last night, the second Republican to announce a run to represent District 27. The newly drawn boundaries remain almost entirely in Arapahoe County and will encompass about half of Centennial and a chunk of Aurora.
“I believe in the dignity of individual rights and the need for individual responsibility. They go hand in hand,” Kim said. “What we’ve seen is a little bit of a disconnection between those two things.”
Kim launched his campaign at Valley Country Club, a private golf and resort-style country club in Aurora.
After announcing his goals and vision for the campaign, Kim, toting a trademark cowboy hat, fielded questions from attendees regarding the validity of the 2020 election and his stance on implementing principles of critical race theory in Colorado classrooms.
The 2020 election results were a significant concern to the audience of 25 or so people.
“Do you believe Trump’s election was stolen from him?” a guest asked. Kim simply answered “no.”
Another guest asked whether he felt election integrity within the state had been compromised in 2020.
“I really think Colorado has done a great job in building up its election system and I would say I have confidence in our system in Colorado,” Kim said.
When asked by an attendee whether he supported “critical race theory” being taught in public classrooms, Kim replied “I don’t think critical race theory is something we should be talking about, but I’ll tell you this: I do not believe our country is based on systematic racism.”
“I’m pretty sure there were no Asians on the Mayflower,” Kim said. “My family immigrated from what is North Korea now in 1906. They came for the opportunity in this country…My siblings came along, and we were able to prosper in this country.”
Chris Kolker (D-Centennial), currently represents the old Senate District 27, but will run for SD16 following redistricting. State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora) has announced he’s running for SD27 this fall. Kim will likely face JulieMarie Shepherd Macklin, a University of Colorado political science lecturer who recently served on the Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission in a primary race ahead of the 2024 election. Kim and his family have lived in the district for 21 years.
The Feb. 24 fundraiser included endorsements from former state Sen. Jack Tate (R-Centennial), Arapahoe County Commissioner Jeff Baker, and Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko.
Tate represented Senate District 27 from 2016-2020 and represented state House District 37 (Centennial) from 2015-2016.
“Tom is an experienced businessman and attorney. He brings a degree of sophistication to everything he engages (in). He has a temperament that really, I think, reflects the constituency as well as what is needed for the state senate,” Tate said. “I’m very glad to support a personal friend who is going to give himself to public service and bring a voice of studiousness, diligence and proper temperament to the Colorado state senate.”
Baker, who has served five years as an Arapahoe County commissioner for District 3, endorsed Kim as well.
“He’s going to hold his own under the golden dome,” Baker said. “He’s going to stand up and make his voice heard and there’s no doubt in my mind that when he starts convincing some of those other legislators down there, he’s going to sway their opinions. He’s going to tell them about common sense and he’s going to make common sense.”
Kim is centering his campaign around three main issues: Public safety, education and the economy.
“Certain policies have allowed criminal elements to run kind of free and we’re seeing the result of it,” Kim said, providing an example of a man who was arrested eight times for stealing cars. “The key is we’ve got to enforce the laws that we have, which we’re not doing. We need the will, and we need to remind everybody we need to have the will to enforce the laws that we have and recognize the responsibility we have when it comes to public safety.
Regarding education, Kim, as a father of two kids who attend Cherry Creek Schools, said he has witnessed firsthand the “erosion of the focus on education on core curriculum in favor of social justice initiatives.”
“We’re living it every day,” Kim said. “We’re reading about it. We’re coming out of a difficult time with COVID, and I think we’re going to have a lot of children, who we were responsible for educating, who are going to be behind the eight ball.”
Kim also gave an example portraying the hurdles certain tradespeople face to acquire practicing licenses, stating he wished to streamline the bureaucracies that make it difficult for businesspeople to earn a living.
Asked by the Colorado Times Recorder whether he would vote for Donald Trump if the former president runs again in 2024, Kim declined to comment.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story listed current SD27 state Senator for SD27 Chris Kolker, as Kim’s 2022 opponent, although after the redistricting process, Kolker will be running for SD16.