Election 2018News

Associated Builders and Contractors endorses Republican Walker Stapleton for governor

Author: Ernest Luning - February 13, 2018 - Updated: February 15, 2018

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a Republican candidate for governor of Colorado, addresses a state GOP meeting on Sept. 23, 2017, at Colorado’s Finest High School in Englewood. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton landed the first endorsement by a major business organization in the crowded GOP primary Tuesday when the Associated Builders and Contractors Rocky Mountain Chapter declared it’s backing Stapleton, saying the twice-elected state treasurer “gets business.”

“The chapter is proud to recognize Walker Stapleton for his support of merit shop contractors and the principles of open competition, free enterprise, lower taxes and responsible government regulation. Stapleton gets business, he comes from the private sector but also has a proven pro-business track record as state treasurer,” said Doug Carlson, the ABC chapter’s president and CEO in a statement.

“Stapleton’s common-sense approach to reforms will allow him to champion polices that create jobs instead of pursuing an agenda of burdensome regulations that hinder job creation,” said Rob Marceau of RK Mechanical Inc. and 2018 chairman of the ABC chapter’s board. “This is a critical election and ABC Rocky Mountain Chapter is ready to get to work and help elect Walker Stapleton Colorado’s next governor.”

The trade association announced it was endorsing Stapleton at RK Mechanical’s northeast Denver headquarters on the edge of the Stapleton neighborhood.

Stapleton is one of 10 Republicans running to replace term-limited Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. Seven Democrats are also running for the office.

Calling the ABC chapter “an invaluable voice for free enterprise in Colorado,” Stapleton said he’s honored to win the group’s endorsement.

“As governor, I will continue to fight for policies that protect both employees and employers and will also ignite the engines of economic growth here in Colorado,” Stapleton said in a statement. “We are building the coalition and putting together the resources necessary to defeat Jared Polis in November and I’m proud to have the Associated Builders and Contractors on our side as we continue to fight for the future of Colorado.”

Polis, a wealthy five-term congressman from Boulder who has poured more than $1.4 million into his campaign, is one of the leading Democrats running for governor.

ABC represents 180 firms employing more than 40,000 workers in the construction and related fields in Colorado. The group advocates for what it calls “free and open construction markets” where companies win work based on merit, not on whether or not labor unions represent any of their workers.

While candidates in the Democratic primary — including Polis, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy and former state Sen. Mike Johnston — have been racking up endorsements from unions, politicians and advocacy groups, observers say it’s highly unusual for a large-scale business organization like ABC to make a pick this early in the election season.

Other Republicans in the race include Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, entrepreneur and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell, former investment banker Doug Robinson, Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, former Denver County Trump campaign co-chair Steve Barlock and political newcomers Jim Rundberg and Teri Kear.

Stapleton, Mitchell, Robinson and Coffman are petitioning their way onto the June 26 primary ballot. The others are pursuing a spot through the assembly process, which kicks off March 6 at precinct caucuses. Candidates who win 30 percent support from delegates to the April 14 state convention qualify for the ballot.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.