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Meet the lesser-known candidates who filed for governor in 2018

Beyond the Big Name candidates who are raising beaucoup cash while campaigning across the state and showing up at candidate forums are several other candidates who have filed paperwork declaring they, too, are running for governor of Colorado. Among them include a Trump-opposing Republican who likes Obamacare and a Trump-supporting Democrat (maybe) who opposes legal weed. There’s a candidate who wants to bring back firing squads, one who says he’s “just a spiritual being having a human experience,” and another who says he’s running to prove to his mother that his realtor brother isn’t really better than him. 

Click here to read these candidates’ answers to our 2018 governor’s race candidate questionnaire.

And, without further ado, meet…

Republican Jim Rundberg

A 62-year-old San Luis Valley Republican, Jim Rundberg, who hasn’t been showing up to many GOP candidate forums and has an under-the-radar presence with state party officials, says he ran for governor in 2014 and for president— twice.

“I didn’t get that much support, my name wasn’t put out there very far,” says the businessman who says he ran a family corporation telephone utility.

But he believes he’ll win the broad Republican primary for governor even if he hasn’t been campaigning much or asking voters to help fund his campaign. He says he plans to use his own money to buy advertising and get himself on TV. His campaign slogan, he says, is “Keeping Colorado Safe, Prosperous and Free.”

Rundberg isn’t the only Republican running who didn’t vote for Donald Trump for president— Victor Mitchell didn’t, either— but he is the only one who says he does not currently support him.

“I don’t agree with Donald Trump as president, I don’t think he’s doing a good job of it,” Rundberg told The Colorado Independent in an interview. “I’m a Republican and I believe that my view is shared by a majority in Colorado.”

One policy proposal that also sets him apart: he likes the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. “Responsible legislation” is what he calls President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform, and  Rundberg says he does not think Congress should repeal it. In Colorado, he says, he would make sure Medicaid is funded and if the feds won’t do it the state should maintain the program. “What we need to do in Colorado is to make sure that that Affordable Care Act is available to everyone in Colorado and it works for everyone in Colorado,” he told The Independent. “That it is a good plan but that we use the plan that we improve the plan here in Colorado.”

Asked how he plans to win a Republican primary among a group of big names with large war chests and who are, well actually out there campaigning, Rundberg says he’ll just position himself as a better leader. And he’ll advertise his self-funded candidacy as much as he can. “I will win that primary,” he said.

Read Rundberg’s answers to our candidate questionnaire here.

Democrat (or maybe Republican, or Consitution Party?) Michael Schroeder

“I changed to a Republican,” said Michael Schroeder in a Feb. 18 email. He’s a candidate who filed paperwork to run for governor as a Democrat and said earlier this year in a phone interview from out of state that he was looking to buy property in Basalt. But then, after the email, he said he was actually running for governor as part of the American Constitution Party. 

Either way, he is an example of how in Colorado someone can be ineligible to run for governor, according to the secretary of state’s office, and yet still make it look like they’re running for governor.

The Secretary of State’s office doesn’t consider Schroeder an eligible candidate because of a problem with his voter registration that hasn’t been cleared up. (He says he hasn’t heard anything about that.) But since he has not filed paperwork to petition onto the ballot, there’s not much the office can do.

In Colorado, there is a constitutional definition of “candidate.” Once someone publicly announces they are a candidate for office, they become one and have to fill out campaign finance paperwork if they’re raising and spending money, according to Secretary of State spokeswoman Lynne Bartels.

State guidelines say a public announcement includes, but is not limited to, “making a statement a reasonable person would expect to become public signifying an interest in a public office by means of a speech, advertisement, or other communication reported to or appearing in public media or any place accessible to the public. It also includes a stated intention to explore the possibility of seeking an office and/or the registration of a candidate committee with our office.”

So whether Schroeder is a serious candidate for governor worthy of your time to research is up to you. As for him, in a series of interviews peppered with salty language, Schroeder said he voted for Donald Trump for president and he doesn’t want Colorado to be known for its legalization of marijuana, and he worries about traffic deaths caused by drivers under the influence. “We are not going to have Colorado campaigning to be the drug capital of the world,” he said. “No fucking way, I will not put it up with it.” He says he has installed marble-and-granite around Colorado and runs a company called ProBumper.

If elected governor, he said he would ban the Clintons from Colorado.

“I’m not a politician, I’ve never been in politics, I’m just a prick, and I want to end this fucking drug thing and I want to make Colorado the number one tech state,” he said.

Asked why he filed to run for governor, he said, “Why wouldn’t I? What do you think that I can’t win? I will win.”

He said he has done thousands of jobs in Aspen, Vail and Denver. “I’ve been in every single bar and every single airport in every single town from Pagosa Springs to Grand Junction to Fort Collins to Boulder, Cherry Creek, Denver, Evergreen, Fort Collins,” he said. “I’ve been everywhere and I’ve done everything and I’m the best man for the job.”

Read Schroeder’s answers to our candidate questionnaire here.

Republican Teri Kear

Why is this 48-year-old Westcliff resident who moved to Colorado from California four years ago, works at a Baptist church nursery and has never before held office running for governor? “First of all there’s a seat available,” she says. “Why not?”

She has been trying to gather signatures in larger cities like Colorado Springs to get on the ballot but doubts she’ll be able to gather enough. She says she will also go through the state assembly process. She’s not raising any money, she says, because not many people know her. In an interview, she called herself very conservative and someone who has strong beliefs, but didn’t say what those beliefs are. She is very thin on policy proposals.

Her campaign website is a Facebook page that had 30 likes as of late February.

“I’m an outsider,” she said, adding she first thought about running for governor two years ago.

“I’ve been praying about it,” she said. “Every time something would come up I’d say, ‘OK, now do you really mean this? Sometimes I have to be hit over the head a couple times to actually hear … just in praying.”

Read Kear’s answers to our candidate questionnaire here.

Republican Erich Braun

A 40-year-old construction worker from Aurora, Erich Braun owns a company called EastaBunne that sells road services and road-striping-related music and videos. He calls it “an imaginary company we made real, like Pinocchio.”

Asked if he’s running for governor to promote his business, though, he says not really. The driving force is actually sibling rivalry.

“I come from a large family,” he said. “It’s always been a real big competition between me and my brothers and sisters of one-upmanship.”

Braun’s brother retired from the Air Force Academy and became a realtor, he says, and, “My mom was always telling me, ‘Your brother’s so much better than you,’ and so I said, ‘Oh, let’s see if he can do this.’”

As for his previous political history, Braun says he was elected president of the Young Republicans Club at Gateway High School. But this is his first-time run for public office.

He says the state needs to do a better job with infrastructure and as a construction worker who spent years working on roads he has a unique perspective on the problem and potential solutions.

Democrat Renee Blanchard

Blanchard has not responded to outreach from The Colorado Independent. She challenged Michael Johnston in the 2010 Democratic primary for a state Senate seat but failed to make the ballot. Before that, she tried to gather enough petitions in 2008 to challenge then-Democratic Rep. Terrance Carroll.

Democrat Moses Humes

Humes has not responded to outreach from The Colorado Independent. His campaign Facebook page says he’s running for governor “to better our future” and it’s “time for a different direction for Colorado to make it a better place to live.”

Democrat Adam Garrity

Garrity has not responded to an interview request from The Colorado Independent, but he did answer our questionnaire. His campaign Facebook page says he’s “Just a spiritual being having a human experience.”

Read Garrity’s answers to our candidate questionnaire here.

Republican Greg Westin

Westin, whose campaign paperwork states he lives in Fort Collins, has not responded to outreach from The Colorado Independent.

Unity Party candidate Bill Hammons

Bill Hammons, an insurance salesman from Boulder, has been a familiar face on Colorado ballots in recent years. Last year he ran in the sprawling U.S. Senate race. Now he’s running for governor, carrying the banner for a political party he founded in 2004 called the Unity Party.

Once Colorado’s only qualified political organization, the Unity Party in 2017 became an official third party with more than 1,000 registered members. Its centrist platform calls for balanced budgets and term limits.

“I’m an original thinker,” Hammons, who was born in Germany was raised in Texas, has told The Colorado Independent. “I’m not adhering to strict ideology on the right or the left. I’ve got some positions that people might think of as conservative. Some positions that some people might think of as even liberal, but I don’t really agree with those labels.” Example: He believes in man-made climate change and supports efforts to combat it, such as with a nationwide carbon tax and a carbon tariff for trade agreements. But he also supports more traditionally conservative ideas like a balanced-budget amendment and term limits. And he likes the death penalty.

Also, during his run for governor, he told media he wants to “abolish Colorado’s income tax, bring back firing squads, and conquer part of Mexico.” He also wants Colorado to secede from “Trump America.” So there’s that.

Read Hammons’s answers to our candidate questionnaire here.

Libertarian Scott Helker

The 62-year-old lawyer from Golden has said he is trying to get his name out there for the Libertarian Party in Colorado.

Read Helker’s answers to our candidate questionnaire here.

Photo by Nicolas Raymond for Creative Commons on Flickr.