Trail Marker: The week in Colorado’s race for governor
The past week started with bombshells, debates, and rankings. But the cherry on top was Saturday’s state party assemblies, which saw Cary Kennedy’s star continue to rise among Democratic delegates and, over in the Republican house, two shockers: The crushing defeat of Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who mustered only six percent of the delegate vote and is now out of the race. And, surprise number 2: the strong—or at least strong enough—showing of former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, who, along with state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, made the primary ballot.
We had both assemblies covered and you can find those stories and more results on our governor’s page.
Speaking of Stapleton, let us recount last week’s—was it really just last week—twists and turns on the campaign, starting with the stunning SNAFU that sent Stapleton to court delegates in the first place.
After GOP rival Doug Robinson alleged fraud in Stapleton’s ballot-petition process, the current state treasurer copped to it— and then asked the Secretary of State not to certify him for the ballot via petitions. The stunning move meant Stapleton, who never wanted to go through the grassroots meatgrinder of the activist base at the state assembly, had to do it. Read our whole story on this major fiasco here, which has echoes of that face-palming 2016 U.S. Senate GOP primary debacle.
Last week also found the first televised debates for the Democrats and Republicans running for CEO of Colorado. (A big boo to the Big Names who chose to skip the debates, though.)
We’ll go ahead and tell you the Democratic face-off wasn’t really much of a debate. Cary Kennedy, Mike Johnston and Donna Lynne agreed on a lot. But there were some moments we found telling, like Kennedy’s side-eye at Lynne over fracking policy, or Johnston’s answer about whether Colorado should report undocumented immigrants who get DUIs to ICE. Also interesting was who didn’t show up for the debate: Jared Polis. His campaign says he was busy in Washington, D.C. while 9News journalists say his campaign didn’t want him to debate before Saturday’s state assembly.
The Republicans, however, actually had a debate. Those who showed up, anyway. On the stage, Lopez, entrepreneur and onetime lawmaker Victor Mitchell, and Robinson mixed it up with each other over transgender people and who is the “ultimate outsider“ in the race.
An instant classic from our write-up:
At one point in the debate when Robinson referred to his rival as “Representative Mitchell,” Mitchell took issue. Clearly annoyed, Mitchell said he has been an entrepreneur for 31 years and was a state representative for only two years. “You can label me any which way, but it’s a bit misleading,” he said. Asked by a moderator if he was ashamed of his time in office, he said no. “But to say that I’m anything other than an outsider would just be a misstatement.” As someone who is self-funding his campaign, not taking special interest money and not seeking endorsements, he said he is “the only outsider” in the race. “I’m the epitome of what an outsider is,” he insisted. Not so fast, said Lopez, who never served in the legislature, adding, “Based on your definition I fit that definition, so I guess I’m an outsider as well.” Robinson piped up. “And me too,” he said. “I’ve never run for public office before. I don’t see how I’m an insider. I’m the ultimate outsider.”
Who dissed the GOP debate? Stapleton, Cynthia Coffman, and Barry Farah. Steve Barlock wasn’t invited. Of the four, only Stapleton is moving on to the primary.
Your process recap: Candidates can gather petitions to get on the June 26 ballot or they can try to go through the assembly. Candidates who went through the assembly needed 30 percent of votes from the roughly 4,000 delegates who attend to stay alive. If they petitioned on and went through the assembly, they need more than 10 percent to make the ballot. The Secretary of State is still busy verifying signatures for Robinson, Mitchell and Lynne.
Kennedy gambled it all on the assembly and the gamble paid off. She won 62 percent of the delegate vote. Boulder Democratic Congressman Jared Polis, who was also petitioning on, spread his risk and went the assembly route as well. He, too, cleared the threshold and is now safely on the ballot. Republican-turned-Democrat Erik Underwood kerplunked and is out.
Going through the Republican assembly were. as noted, Stapleton, who won top-line status. Coffman, who bombed, Farah, Barlock and Larimer County commissioner Lew Gaiter, all of whom are out now, and Greg Lopez, who roused delegates with a speech that won a lot of undecideds over and catapulted him on to the primary.
Reminder: You can read our profiles on all these candidates at our 2018 Governor’s Race page at The Colorado Independent. We also have daily reported dispatches from the trail, analysis and insights, rankings, campaign finance info and more.
Speaking of rankings, our great columnist Mike Littwin has them, with help from a crack team of panelists. At the end of last week Littwin had Robinson on the rise as the retired investment banker, first-time candidate and Romney nephew took a big swing at Stapleton. At the time we didn’t know it, but that swing landed— hard. Littwin’s latest ranking has Kennedy on the up, Stapleton on the drop but still at the top, and Farah tumbling. The panel should have plenty to say this Friday so tune in.
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