Earlier today we recapped the odd early-July saga of Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton maybe (possibly) having chosen a Lieutenant Governor (LG) running mate but thus far remaining mum on the selection. We’ve heard that CU Regent Heidi Ganahl turned down Stapleton’s offer to be his running mate, which prompted a shift in attention toward someone like Mesa County Commissioner and Climate Change denier Rose Pugliese. Stapleton may well choose (or have chosen) Pugliese, but apparently there is another name in the mix.
Over the weekend we ran a poll asking about potential Stapleton LG candidates, and it appears that we just missed the mark on a finalist from Jefferson County. We speculated, half-jokingly, that longtime Jefferson County elected office hopper Faye Griffin could be Stapleton’s choice for LG, but from what we hear, Jefferson County Commissioner Libby Szabo has made Stapleton’s short list (pun intended) to run alongside him in the fall.
Szabo is a former state representative — and Assistant Minority Leader — who made headlines in late 2014 when she abandoned the Republican caucus shortly after winning re-election to the House in order to secure a vacancy appointment for an open seat on the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners. The Jeffco Commissioner job came with a significant salary increase and other perks — including a brand-new car purchased by Jeffco taxpayers that was equipped with special pedals to accommodate Szabo’s short frame (in the photo at right, Szabo poses with 5-foot-10 actor Scott Baio; you can make your own guesses about Szabo’s actual height).
The upside (pun intended) of choosing Szabo as his running mate is that might help Stapleton with voters in the always-critical Jefferson County. Szabo is also a Spanish speaker, which would theoretically help in attracting Hispanic and Latina(o) voters. There is also considerable downside (pun still intended) of a Szabo selection beyond the negative stories related to her move to Jefferson County government. If Stapleton picks Szabo, it would focus new attention on her 2013 appearance on disgraced Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s show in which she and O’Reilly agreed that there is some sort of correlation between homosexuality and child sex offenders. The significance of this story is obvious given that Democrat Jared Polis would be the first openly-gay man to be elected Governor in the United States.
In short (yep, still), Stapleton will likely announce a running mate who is either a noted Climate Change denier or someone who has no problem intimating that gay people are more likely to sexually assault children.
Have we mentioned that Democrats aren’t at all afraid of running against Stapleton in 2018?