Who had the best 2017 in Colorado politics? Who had the worst?

Author: Joey Bunch - December 28, 2017 - Updated: December 30, 2017

Who had the best — and worst — year in Colorado politics? From left: state Rep. Leslie Herod, gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo, state Rep. Brittany Pettersen, state Rep. Steve Lebsock and Gov. John Hickenlooper. (Photo credits: Colorado Politics file photos, AP, candidates’ campaigns and social media profiles)

The best:

donna Lynne
Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne (Photo by Nicole Cassou/Colorado Politics file photo)

Donna Lynne

From little-known second banana to Gov. John Hickenlooper after she was appointed last year to the Democrats’ fresh-faced moderate for the next election, the former health care executive is stumping for governor with a potent primary message about universal care.


Colorado state Rep. Leslie Herod. (Courtesy of Herod’s Facebook page)

Rep. Leslie Herod

In January she was a freshman legislator on the back bench of the Capitol. But by the time the session ended, she had sent a dozen bills to the governor’s desk with bipartisan support. The Democrat from Denver was featured in Elle magazine, she’s the state’s first openly lesbian black lawmaker, and now she’s leading a national effort to engage black women in politics.



Tom Tancredo and Zach Klopfenstein, 13, checked out a motorcycle during a campaign stop at Dublin Park in Colorado Springs Friday, Oct. 1, 2010. Tancredo is running for governor. (The Gazette file photo)

Tom Tancredo
Until violence broke out in Charlottesville, Va., Tancredo was a former Colorado congressman who twice lost in races for governor. Fired up over the ensuing snub of an alt-right gathering in Colorado Springs, where he was to appear, Tancredo jumped in again, this time riding the Steve Bannon momentum into 2018. Depending on how many candidates make it to the primary, Tancredo’s solid base of pro-Trump supporters could put him in his third general election for governor.


Rep. Brittany Pettersen and Sen. Owen Hill.
Rep. Brittany Pettersen and Sen. Owen Hill. (Photos courtesy of their campaigns)

Sen. Owen Hill and Rep. Brittany Pettersen
The chairs of the House and Senate education committees, him a conservative Republican from Colorado Springs, she a liberal Democrat from Lakewood — led a breakthrough effort to fund charter schools like any other public campus. Pettersen looked strong in her run for Congress, until she was forced out when incumbent Ed Perlmutter decided to seek re-election. Hill could see his high-profile schoolwork lift him over incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in the GOP primary next June.


Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers gives a thumbs up as he enters the celebration at Phantom Canyon Brewery in Colorado Springs for Ballot Issue 2A shortly after the polls showed the stormwater initiative passing on Nov. 7. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers
He’s become the wizard of GOP politics, a conservative who can pass taxes for roads and drainage in the most unlikely of places, Colorado Springs. Suthers is the elder statesman of Colorado Republicans as the former state attorney general, and last May he was considered by President Trump to become the FBI director to replace James Comey. Suthers apparently could announce he’s Hillary Clinton’s BFF and most Colorado Republicans would still think his aces. Not likely, but who thought the Springs would grow to embrace new taxes?



Who had the worst year?

State Rep. Steve Lebsock discusses sexual harassment charges against him. (Photo by Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics)

Rep. Steve Lebsock
Four legislators enter the next session with sexual harassment allegations smudging their reputations, but Lebsock has it the worst. The Democrat from Thornton is being ostracized by his own party, whose top members have urged him to resign. All the while, Lebsock is trying to keep pace in a crowded field to become state treasurer.


In this Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 photo, Greeley City Manager, Roy Otto, smiles as he watches Governor John Hickenlooper glances up from a bottle of Rice’s Honey after arriving at the Rice’s Honey facility, in Greeley, Colo. Hickenlooper came to support the collaboration between Rice’s Honey and Walmart. (Joshua Polson/The Greeley Tribune via AP)

Gov. John Hickenlooper
Wasn’t he supposed to be in Washington, or trying to get there, by now? The governor seemed like a shoo-in for a Cabinet appointment, if Hillary Clinton won the presidency, but that went nowhere. He teased a bipartisan courtship with Ohio Gov. John Kasich over healthcare this year, but that went nowhere. He called a special session in October that, well, went nowhere.



Colorado Springs Republican House District 15 candidate Dave Williams casually takes in the happenings. He can afford to relax. Williams is running to fill the seat being vacated by conservative internet preacher Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt. Williams won the GOP primary and is a shoo-in to win in the general election against Democrat Sharon Huff.
Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Dave Williams (Photo by John Tomasic/Colorado Politics file photo)

Rep. Dave Williams
While everything went right for Leslie Herod, another freshman lawmaker was having no luck at all. House Democrats crushed his two sanctuary city bills as unconstitutional. He tried to get in the House Latino Caucus because his mother is Hispanic, but the Democrats blocked him. In the fall he exposed what he thought was a plan by Democrats to kneel during the national anthem at the opening of the special session, only to find out the anthem isn’t played to open a session.


U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, an Arvada Democrat, raises his hands in the air before announcing he’s running for governor of Colorado in the 2018 election on Sunday, April 9, 2017, at the Natural Grocers store in Golden. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter
Once everybody’s friend in the Democratic Party, Perlmutter’s profile isn’t quite so shiny after 2017. He got in the governor’s race last spring, a presumed frontrunner, only to drop out a few weeks later saying he didn’t have the political fire in his belly. Meanwhile, a passel of well-liked legislators launched campaigns to replace him. Then Perlmutter rediscovered his missing fire and blew up their campaigns by getting back in the race for Congress.


“I may be the only Republican attorney general in the country who walks in a Pride parade, and if that is true, I’m going to be challenging all of my colleagues to do this,” says Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman at the Denver Pride Equality Rally on Sunday, June 18, 2017, on the west steps of the state Capitol. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

Her divorce from U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman aside, the attorney general was expected to be a front-runner for governor in 2018. She wasted months of fundraising opportunities, however, and didn’t announce for the governor’s race until November. She hasn’t yet articulated a platform, including where she stands on abortion, a major fumble in the eyes of her conservative base. Coffman allied herself with the state’s LGBTQ community in 2017, including siding with state anti-discrimination laws in the Masterpiece Cake Shop case before the U.S. Supreme Court. She could have sought a second term as attorney general.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.