WASHINGTON: In forty-four years there has been only one. Just one Republican governor of the state of Colorado. That was Bill Owens who served 8 years after winning the election in 1999. Maybe Colorado is just too blue. The state does have one Republican and one Democrat senator. But that isn’t the governor’s office. We have four strong Republicans on the ballot now. Including Greg Lopez, Walker Stapleton, Vic Mitchell and Doug Robinson in the 2018 Colorado Governor’s Race.
Could it be that the Colorado GOP has nominated candidates who are too moderate? Or maybe too conservative? There have been moderates and conservatives along the way but most didn’t win the general election. Colorado does have a different mix of voters who have declared a party affiliation.
- 31.1% of active voters are registered as Democrats.
- 30.7% are Republicans.
- 36.4% are unaffiliated.
Though over a third of the voters seem to have an open mind, Democrat candidates have historically drawn more of them than Republicans.
2018 is another election year for governor in Colorado
Democrat Governor Hickenlooper is termed out so this will be an open election. There are four Republicans who have made their way onto the GOP primary ballot. The one with the greatest name recognition is the current state treasurer, Walker Stapleton.
Two others claim to be outsiders, one a businessman and former state legislator Victor Mitchell, who is dumping millions of his own money into his campaign. The other is from a political family. Doug Robinson, a former investment banker, is the nephew of Mitt Romney.
He has lots of connections and his campaign has deep pockets.
On the surface, it looks like any other year. Sure all of the GOP candidates are conservative enough. Any of them will likely get the Republican votes. But that has been the case in 8 out of the last 10 elections.
Will this one be just like those other failed campaigns?
Greg Lopez for Colorado’s first Hispanic governor
Maybe not. Lopez was the youngest sitting mayor in the state, elected in 1992 at 27 years of age. In addition to serving as mayor, he was also made city manager of Parker t. Lopez cut his own political career short, however, when he chose to step out of politics to be a husband and father of two young children.
Colorado has a 20% Hispanic population, yet there has never been a Hispanic governor of the state.
That could change in 2018. His views are conservative, right down the line. Pro-life, pro-second amendment, fiscally conservative; all of the things that conservatives look for. He has some small business experience and is the only veteran in the race.
Lopez minority community roots
Greg Lopez has an ace in the hole. He has deep roots in the minority community. Growing up the son of migrant workers in Texas, he relates well to the Hispanic population.
Lopez served for four years on the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, two of those as president. He was president of the Rocky Mountain Minority Supply Development Council, helping to put businesses together with minority-owned suppliers.
He was also Colorado director of the US Small Business Administration for six years.
From Lopez the Democrat to Lopez the Republican
Lopez is well connected and well liked in the minority community in Colorado. While all candidates, GOP and Democrat, receive invitations to minority events, only one Republican shows up, Lopez. When he’s there, he relates well. When asked why that is, he says he doesn’t dwell on the party.
He talks issues and values. He says many minorities like what he has to say because, while their families have always been Democrat, the Republican Party actually aligns with more of their values. Lopez knows something about this because he too grew up a Democrat.
After seriously studying both party platforms, he changed parties…while he was a sitting mayor.
Greg Lopez – The people’s candidate
Lopez’s strong relationship with the minority community makes him the only GOP candidate that would likely draw Republican, unaffiliated and Democrat votes.
But before that can happen, he must win the nomination of his party. He doesn’t have the money that the other candidates have. He runs a frugal campaign with almost all volunteer staff. But he has a message that resonates with the voters.
In Colorado, delegates who are elected in precinct caucuses go to a state assembly to determine who will be on the primary ballot. This year seven candidates competed for inclusion on the ballot. Lopez shocked the state by being one of two who made the ballot (the other two got on the ballot by petitioning). He defeated others with greater name recognition, money, and organization.
Lopez brought down the house with his 8-minute speech, calling for party unity and calling out to all 64 counties that he wants to be their governor too and help them with their issues, not just the metro areas.
So, could this be the year that Colorado elects a GOP governor? With Greg Lopez on the general election ballot, the prospects are excellent!
Lede image: By Hogs555 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17769865