Field in Colorado governor race starting to take shape

Now that the Republicans’ first bigwig has entered the race for governor in 2018, it’s a sure bet others soon will follow suit.

George Brauchler, the Arapahoe County district attorney who toyed with the idea of running for governor a few years ago, has officially jumped into the race for the GOP nomination to replace Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who can’t run again because of term limits.

“It seems like everything that is discussed by the governor or under the gold dome is focused on the metro area,” said Brauchler, who is in town much of today to meet with the media and attend the Club 20 Spring Conference dinner. “When we talk about Colorado’s unemployment rate, the strength of our economy, it always seems to neglect the Western Slope and the Eastern Plains who are still waiting for the recovery.”

Though four other Republicans have already jumped into the race, they are virtual unknowns in Colorado politics. The field still is awaiting an announcement from Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who also is term-limited in 2018 but has long hinted at his intent to seek the top state job.

Still, other Republicans have talked about throwing their hat into the ring, including Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, now assistant majority leader in the Colorado Senate.

For Brauchler, none of that matters.

The 47-year-old, who is best known for prosecuting James Holmes in the Aurora theater shooting case, said he’s the better choice because of his wider leadership abilities.

“What we have seen out of the Hickenlooper administration has been his affability,” Brauchler said. “The focus seems to have been on, ‘How do I keep the greatest number of people from being upset with me and not liking me?’ Affability is no substitute for leadership. The most we can say is his administration has managed government. Well, we need more than managers, we need leadership.”

Brauchler said he opposes any plan by the Colorado Legislature to put a tax increase on this fall’s ballot to pay for roads.

Instead, he supports an idea floated by Sens. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, and Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, which calls for taking part of the state’s hospital provider fee out from under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights revenue caps and using that money for transportation.

He said doing something more than merely issuing transportation bonds for specific projects, as former GOP Gov. Bill Owens did in 1999, just won’t cut it.

That’s particularly true for voters outside of the Front Range, who saw little of that road funding.

“Simply using the Governor Owens model on transportation is probably too limited because it really only talks about I-25 and I-70, and none of the rural roads,” Brauchler said. “We’re told the only thing we can do is to raise taxes on ourselves to the tune of a 21 percent sales tax increase. I’m offended by that suggestion.”

While the Colorado Democratic Party hasn’t uttered a word about other Republicans who have entered the race, they did when Brauchler announced.

“George Brauchler’s policies would take Colorado backwards,” the party said in a statement issued by spokeswoman Melanie Young. “He has already shown that he will prioritize out-of-state business billionaires like the Koch brothers at the expense of hard working Colorado families.”

Other Republicans who have created campaign accounts for the GOP nomination for governor include Lew Gaiter of Livermore, Victor Mitchell of Castle Rock, Jim Rundberg of Moffat and Joanne Silva of Loveland.

Democrats who so far have joined the race include former state Sen. Michael Johnston and Denver businessman Noel Ginsburg. Others include Adam Garrity of Phippsburg, Moses Humes of Wheat Ridge and Michael Schroeder of Basalt.

Six third-party candidates also are in the race.

While former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a Democrat, has already said he won’t seek his party’s nomination for the job, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-7th, is to make a “major” announcement in Golden on Sunday.


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