Top Ten Stories of 2017 #8: Big Crowd for Governor and the Return of Tom Tancredo

Rep. Jared Polis (D) looks like the candidate to beat in the race for Governor.

Colorado voters will choose a new Governor next November, and if 2017 is any indication of what to expect, then the 2018 election is going to be a wild ride.

For the third time in the last four cycles, there will be no incumbent on the ballot for Governor. Numerous candidates from both sides of the political aisle have been preparing for this open race since late last year, but few could have foreseen the twists and turns that defined 2017. Both Democrats and Republicans saw potential frontrunners enter and exit the race this year, dramatically shaping and reshaping what should easily turn out to be the most expensive gubernatorial race in Colorado history.

There has already been so much movement in the race for Governor, in fact, that many of the projected top candidates 12 months ago aren’t even in the field anymore. Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) looked like the Democratic frontrunner when he announced his candidacy in April, but he changed his mind after a few months of campaigning and decided to run for re-election in CD-7 instead. Republicans thought they had a top contender in George Brauchler, but the Arapahoe County District Attorney proved to be completely inept as a candidate and officially shifted his sights to Attorney General in October.

Perhaps no name better encapsulates the strange turn of events in the Governor’s race than that of Republican Tom Tancredo, who is again running as a Republican after losing the GOP nomination to Bob Beauprez in 2014 and serving as the nominee of the American Constitution Party in 2010. Tancredo’s surprise candidacy makes a certain kind of sense in retrospect; as we’ve written before in this space, the Tanc might be better-positioned in 2018 than he was in either of the previous cycles in which he sought the top job in Colorado. The fact that Tancredo is even able to return to the big stage in Colorado creates plenty of uncomfortable questions for Republicans, not the least of which is the fact that he appears to be an early favorite to capture the GOP nomination.

As we turn the calendar to 2018, Tancredo and Democratic Congressman Jared Polis are well-positioned to capture their respective party’s nominations, but they both have several hopefuls hot on their heels. We’ve answered a lot of questions about the gubernatorial race with a busy 2017, but many more remain:

Walker Stapleton

Will Walker Stapleton ever appear in a photo where he doesn’t look bewildered?

Can Mike Johnston turn his national fundraising haul into local support?

Can Cary Kennedy convince Democrats that she is more than a policy wonk?

Why is Republican Cynthia Coffman such a supremely-terrible candidate?

Will Donna Lynne figure out how to do this campaigning thing?

How many personal checks will Victor Mitchell write to his campaign?

Can Democrat Noel Ginsburg Move Colorado Laterally?

Will anyone ever remember the name of Mitt Romney’s Nephew?


The Colorado Governor’s race was as busy in 2017 as any off-year in recent memory. The June Primary is just six months away, so get ready for a hectic half-year of campaigning.

21 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ModeratusModeratus says:

    Democrats want to run against Tancredo and they'll take Stapleton.

    You are afraid of Cynthia Coffman and it's painfully obvious.

    Go Cynthia!

  2. RepealAndReplace says:

    Busted by Moderatus!  

    We want to run against a (sort of) pro-gay rights, (closeted) pro-choice Republican woman who did not commit the legal definition of blackmail when she, Becky and Tom had their Come-to-Jesus moment with Steve House and who has yet to articulate why she is running.

    We need to get up really early in the morning to fool you, Fluffy!

  3. spaceman65 says:

    Of the list of all the R candidates to be "afraid of," Cynthia Coffman is at the very bottom.  Try another spiel, Moddy

  4. Gilpin Guy says:

    I'm concerned about Polis.  Maybe he has the wallet but I don't think he has the heft to be a governor.  Worst case for him is he loses and then goes back to making money.  Worst case for the rest of us is we're stuck with Tancredo for eight years.  That's going to hurt.

    • PseudonymousPseudonymous says:

      If I decide to vote in the primaries, I'll pick Cary, but only because of my education views, not because Jared's a lightweight.  I wouldn't call him a dilettante.  I think people might point to his abortive attempt at O&G reform, but my perception of that is that Jared thought he had enough leverage to get results from Hick's review committee, and was terribly wrong, but that's a failure of understanding not of effort.

      Jared would work hard, especially, I expect, to advance the commercialization and legitimacy of weed and hemp, but also for the state more generally.  I'll vote for him if he makes it to the general, and be fine with that.

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        I voted for him over Joan Fitzgerald at the first caucus and will vote for him as governor if he is the Democratic nominee.  He just seems a little off to me with this election.  It's like he got bored of Congress.

        • PseudonymousPseudonymous says:

          Ah.  I think he may have gotten tired of it, which I think is different, and saw an opportunity back home that he's excited about (pot).

          • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

            I like Polis and Kennedy equally. Polis seems to me to mean well, but was disrespectful of the grass-roots “local control” movements. Because he supplied the initial funding for ballot initiatives, he thought that he "owned" the movement. 

            The fracktivists were organizing to put several setback and local control initiatives on the ballot – volunteering, gathering signatures, working hard on the ground.  But he ignored their efforts to back Hick's Blue-Ribbon Commission instead.

            At the time, opinions were divided about how effective Polis' deal would be in limiting oil and gas encroachment on communities. In hindsight, it got us only a few more well inspectors,  some meaningless pad limits, and a website. and most other environmental organizations are underwhelmed with Polis' blue-ribbon bargain.

            So as Governor, would Polis still be dismissive of grassroots efforts? Policy-wise, Polis has been good on reproductive and LGBT rights, checks all the right boxes on social issues, and of course he has been a leader in legalizing and promoting cannabis industries.

            I just don't know if we can trust him where the money meets the wallet.

            Cary Kennedy at least has a solid track record on funding infrastructure, health care, and education.

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        I think we have a choice between two fine candiates. And our second echelon puts the Republicans to shame.  To me, Cary is the pick of the litter.

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