Former Republican state Rep. Victor Mitchell is officially in the race for governor next year. The Secretary of State’s office registered his campaign committee paperwork Friday.
Mitchell told Colorado Politics Monday he planned to start the campaign with $3 million to roll out an advertising campaign to build name recognition in what’s expected to be a crowded Republican primary field.
Though they have yet to formally announced, three well-known Republicans considered to be at the top of a heap of primary possibilities are State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler
All three sounded very much like candidates at an event put on by the influential and well-financed Americans for Prosperity at the Capitol last week.
“We’re going to have a media plan the likes of which we’ve never seen here in Colorado,” he said. “We’re going to have a heavy emphasis on digital media, but, really, it’s a grassroots movement. I’m an unknown candidate.”
Mitchell, a 51-year-old from Castle Rock, served a two-year term in the legislature in 2007 and 2008, stepping aside to focus on his business. He said Monday he is putting aside his business interests as chairman and CEO of Lead Funding LLC, which lends to developers, to run for governor.
Mitchell’s registered agent on his committee filing is Scott Gessler, Colorado’s former secretary of state who ran for governor in 2014.
Ernest Lee Lunning of the Colorado Statesman was the first to report Mitchell might get in the race last month, but at the time Mitchell would not confirm he was running.
Mitchell said Monday he could get break up partisan gridlock by getting legislators from both parties to do community volunteer activities together. He talked about how he organized 16 American volunteers of different political views to work together providing aid after an earthquake in Nepal in 2015.
“At the end of the day, I think I can make a difference,” Mitchell said. “I’ve been a problem-solver my whole career … you can be mad all the time or you can try to make a difference.”
While Mitchell spoke of working with Democrats, he could not name a way in which he might compromise on his deeply held conservative convictions on taxes and schools.
“I love TABOR,” he said of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, a favorite state constitutional amendment of conservatives that liberals say hurts funding for schools, transportation and other public needs.
“I was supportive of TABOR from the get-go and still am. I don’t believe we should be asking for one darn penny from any citizen of our state of additional taxes, not one penny.”
Asked about his over policies on education, he began, “Job No. 1 we need to call out the public teachers unions for what they are, which is the enemy of the state.”
Mitchell said he strongly supports school choice, from charter schools to vouchers, as well as an expanded school year and a curriculum that rigorously focuses on science, technology, engineering, math and civics.
He also thinks teachers should be paid based on performance.
“There’s no legitimate purpose for public teachers unions,” Mitchell said. “All they do is promote mediocrity into our public schools, and they protect a failed system.”