Rep. Steve Lebsock on Saturday announced his candidacy for state treasurer.
The Thornton lawmaker – who has been described as a “liberty Democrat” – told a group of Adams and Jefferson county Democrats that he is ready to be the custodian of the state’s revenue.
“It’s really important that we have good people in every single one of our elected positions in the state of Colorado,” Lebsock told ColoradoPolitics after his announcement. “We need people we trust in all of the different positions.”
Lebsock said he wanted to make the announcement at the 7th Congressional District “reorg” meeting for Democrats, adding that he decided to run for treasurer in 2018 after considering a run for Congress.
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada, who currently holds the 7th District seat, stopped short of announcing a run for governor on Saturday, though he strongly signaled that an announcement is coming shortly. Perlmutter’s run for governor could spark a competitive Democratic primary for the vacant seat.
Lebsock said he didn’t want to enter the congressional race, in which Lakewood Democrats, Rep. Brittany Pettersen and Sen. Andy Kerr, are expected to announce runs to replace Perlmutter. Instead, Lebsock decided on treasurer.
“We have to make sure we’re being fiscally responsible wth the investments … I want to make sure that the state treasurer of Colorado is actually going to advocate for state employees, and also advocate for the folks who are state retirees,” Lebsock said.
State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a Republican, is term-limited. Stapleton is expected to announce a run for governor, something Lebsock also toyed with.
No one has yet filed for a run for treasurer. Lebsock plans to file paperwork on Monday.
Several Republicans have expressed an interest in running for the position, in what could be a tight primary for the GOP. State Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton has expressed interest. Former 2nd Congressional District candidate Nic Morse, who ran unsuccessfully last year against incumbent Democrat Jared Polis, jumped into the race but then backed out.
The treasurer’s race often flies under the radar in Colorado politics, with many observers suggesting that the position offers a stepping stone to higher office.
The next state treasurer will inherit fiscal woes that date back to the economic downturn, despite the state’s booming economy. The Public Employees’ Retirement Association faces about $30 billion in unfunded liabilities and saw only a 1.5 percent return on retirement investments in 2015. The treasurer sits on the PERA board as an ex officio member.
Prior to serving in the statehouse, Lebsock sat on the Thornton City Council. He worked as a contract specialist for the Department of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, on conservation issues, according to a website biography. Lebsock also served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
He said his work on a $200 million Thornton budget and a $25 billion state budget prepared him for a run for treasurer.
“The most important thing a state treasurer should do, and it will be my No. 1 priority, is put together a team that will be able to be the custodian of tax dollars and invest wisely, and also be a real advocate for retirees and state employees,” Lebsock said. “I can do those things; I’ll put together the best team possible and we’ll have a solid office.”