Many hopefuls eye 2014 race for governor
The field of candidates seeking to become Colorado’s next governor has gotten mobbed in recent months, and may get even more crowded with the primary election still 10 months away.
Besides the incumbent, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who hasn’t officially said yet that he will run for re-election, there are eight othersvying for the position, with at least two more considering entering the race.
At current count, one Democrat, one Libertarian, two independents and five Republicans have created campaign accounts with the Secretary of State’s Office announcing their intentions to run for governor.
Several of them, including two with local ties, said they did so for a simple reason: The current governor has made some bad decisions of late, and they’re angry about them.
Primarily, the candidates said they don’t like his decision to sign gun-control measures approved by the Legislature this year, but some became even more incensed when he made the decision to delay the execution of convicted Chuck E. Cheese murderer Nathan Dunlap, one of three people on Colorado’s death row.
As a result, the candidates, some of whom have never run for political office before, say Hickenlooper and the Democrats who have a majority in the Colorado Legislature are splitting the state in two, even causing some to consider seceding from the state.
“The governor seems to be all about wanting the right things for the wrong people,” said Jarred Ahrend, a former Marine from Colorado Springs who’s running as an unaffiliated. “I want to make this a home for my kids and my grandkids, eventually, so I don’t want to see this state split in half just because people aren’t getting what they need.”
Meeker Republican Jim Rundberg echoed those comments and added a few Hickenlooper decisions that he doesn’t agree with, such as signing the bill granting civil unions to same-sex couples.
“Homosexuals who seek to enter a marriage relationship do not understand the sacrimental (sic) state of marriage,” Rundberg wrote on his website, http://www.jimrundberg.com. “God does not accept homosexual behavior, and he does not authorize any homosexual relationship. Neither do I.”
In an interview, Rundberg referred to those written comments and added that he respects all life, supports the Second Amendment and has a plan to rescue Colorado’s economy by converting all vehicles to burn both gasoline and compressed natural gas.
“This Democrat governor that we have has started to try to control our guns, he’s not doing enough for this state to prosper this state and I am definitely pro-life and he is not,” said Rundberg, who grew up in Parachute. “These are things I want to challenge.”
Another candidate, Loma Republican Michael Frick, got into the race in February, tried to withdraw, but is considering staying in it. He said no one in state government knows what they’re doing.
“We’ve got a lot of liberals on the Front Range and a lot of conservatives here on the Western Slope, and I just see an imbalance of things that are going on,” said Frick, a reclamation miner. “There’s a lot of uneducated people, in my opinion. I don’t know how people make decisions in this state, and I think I could help. I’m not a politician whatsoever.”
The race for which Republican will challenge Hickenlooper — and unaffiliated candidates Ahrend and John French and Libertarian Matthew Hess — is where most of the attention has been in recent months, particularly for the perceived frontrunner, former GOP congressman Tom Tancredo.
Tancredo ran against Hickenlooper and GOP nominee Dan Maes in 2010 as a member of the American Constitution Party, primarily because he didn’t think Maes had the wherewithal to win.
That race, which Hickenlooper won by only 50.3 percent of the vote, saw Maes nearly turn the GOP into a minor party, which it would have been if he received less than 10 percent of the vote. He got 10.9 percent.
Tancredo, who garnered nearly 36 percent of the vote, said this year he’s doing it right by running for the GOP nomination himself.
And he’s happy that there are so many others vying for it, too.
“It’s a good thing for me because I have a base that won’t go anywhere,” he said. “They are solid, they are committed and it’s maybe 35 percent (of GOP voters). That means that everyone who comes in (to the primary) has to share part of the rest. When I ran for Congress in 1998 and had a five-way primary. I won it with 26 percent of the vote.”
Tancredo, who made a failed presidential bid in 2008, said he’s not worried about the others in the race, including the more well-known state Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, and Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who’s already ended any bid to seek re-election for that office.
That’s because Gessler believes he has the best chance at unseating Hickenlooper, pointing to a recent Quinnipiac poll that shows him within a percentage point with the governor, better than any other Republican candidate in the race.
“I’ve never seen a drop in anyone’s favorability numbers as dramatic as they were for Governor Hickenlooper after the Dunlap decision,” he said. “Fourteen points. That is amazing and I don’t know how he builds it back. It’s just my personal observation, but I don’t think he likes the job.”