‘Bachelor’ star Ben Higgins weighing House District 4 run

Author: Ernest Luning - May 27, 2016 - Updated: June 2, 2016

In this promotional shot from ABC's The Bachelor, Denver resident Ben Higgins is featured. The star of the 20th season of the hit reality TV series is considering a run on the Republican ticket for Colorado's House District 4 in West Denver. (Courtesy ABC)
In this promotional shot from ABC’s The Bachelor, Denver resident Ben Higgins is featured. The star of the 20th season of the hit reality TV series is considering a run on the Republican ticket for Colorado’s House District 4 in West Denver. (Courtesy ABC)

North Denver resident Ben Higgins — better known as “The Bachelor,” titular star of the most recent season of the hit ABC-TV series — is exploring a run on the Republican ticket for the House District 4 seat held by House Speaker Pro Tem Dan Pabon, The Colorado Statesman has learned.

Higgins, 28, has been meeting GOP power brokers in the district this week, accompanied by political consultant Dustin Olson, founder of Olson Strategies, and so far he’s made strongly favorable impressions.

That’s according to Willie Pinkston, a business consultant and the current Republican candidate for the heavily Democratic seat. Pinkston, Denver Republicans say, plans to step aside and let the HD 4 vacancy committee nominate Higgins to challenge Pabon.

“I am very impressed with Ben,” Pinkston wrote in an email obtained by The Colorado Statesman. “Super great guy. I think he would be a very strong HD4 candidate and will support him.”

Pinkston added, “We have to continue to keep this a secret because it’s not official yet and Dustin wants to make sure the press doesn’t catch wind of anything.”

A spokeswoman for the Colorado secretary of state’s office said it’s routine for a candidate to withdraw from the ballot and for a vacancy committee to designate a replacement, although an elections observer notes that it might be easier to accomplish without hitches if Pinkston waits until after the June 28 primary election.

Pabon, an attorney, is seeking his fourth term representing HD 4, which covers a stretch of Denver mostly between Sheridan and Federal boulevards surrounding Sloan Lake. He’s won election by overwhelming margins three times but could be facing a tougher bid this year following his arrest for drunk driving on St. Patrick’s Day.

Pabon offered a tearful apology to legislative colleagues on the House floor weeks before authorities released the results of his blood alcohol test from the March 17 traffic stop downtown. That came back at 0.14 percent blood alcohol, nearly twice Colorado’s legal limit of 0.08 percent.

In a statement, Pabon said that he intends to continue cooperating with the legal process and is “prepared to accept any consequences for my actions.”

Pabon is unopposed on the June primary ballot for the Democratic nomination.

Higgins made the news locally in April when firefighters had to rescue him from a parking garage elevator attached to hip RiNo spot The Source — an incident immortalized on Snapchat by his fiancée, Lauren Bushnell. “Traumatizing!” Higgins tweeted, adding that he won’t ever forget their first Denver date.

While producers didn’t emphasize it on the show’s 20th season, fans have flocked to Higgins in part because of his strong Christian faith, demonstrated by a prominent tattoo that has been visible in his shirtless appearances on the show and on social media. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed — Proverbs 16:34,” the tattoo reads. (It should read “Proverbs 16:3,” Higgins acknowledges, but the tattoo artist mistakenly added a “4.”)

The business analyst from Warsaw, Indiana, was considered “such a catch” that contestants competed for his affection more intensely than in any previous season, The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss told E! News in January.

“This may be the best Bachelor we’ve ever had,” Fleiss said. “He’s incredible … he’s such a warmhearted, genuine person. He’s sweet, sincere and he’s got a sense of humor. He’s a great guy.”

Over the course of the season — which ended in March with Higgins proposing to Bushnell after spending a day “snuggling on a catamaran” in Jamaica, according to People magazine — a “record number” of women fell in love with him, Fleiss said. “That’s where the drama came from. The girls provided the drama this season because they were competing for him. A lot of girls want to marry this guy.”

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. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.