Colorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne to announce Thursday she’s jumping in Democratic primary for governor

Authors: Erin Prater, Ernest Luning - September 6, 2017 - Updated: September 7, 2017

Donna LynneColorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne was introduced by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, background left, at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver on March 23, 2016. Lynne, if confirmed will replace Joe Garcia. (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/ The Denver Post via the AP file photo)

Colorado Lt. Gov Donna Lynne plans to announce Thursday she’s jumping in the Democratic primary for governor and embark on a statewide tour.

Lynne plans to make the announcement at 8:30 a.m. at The Spring Cafe at 1373 Grant St. in Denver, according to an email sent by Lynne for Colorado. A campaign website lists campaign launch events Thursday through Saturday in Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Salida, Edwards, Grand Junction and Durango.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, who appointed Lynne to the lieutenant governor position last year and is term-limited, said last month she would “make a great governor” but stopped short of endorsing her.

A former top Kaiser Permanente executive, Lynne, 63, has also served as the state’s chief operating officer, charged with overseeing government operations.

“She’s like like a Hoover vacuum cleaner of problems — they just disappear, and everybody’s happy,” Hickenlooper said the same day Lynne announced she was “actively” exploring a run for governor.

“As (lieutenant governor) and Chief Operating Officer, I’ve been privileged to work with and help people in every Colorado county and have come to realize there is much more we can and must do to keep the state moving in the right direction,” Lynne says on her campaign website.

A fundraising email from Lynne dated Aug. 10 stated, “Running for governor is not something I can do alone, and with your help I know we’ll be successful. Please consider contributing whatever you can today to make sure we get off to a strong start.”

Since being sworn in — she took over from former Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who stepped down when he was named president of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education — Lynne has taken the reins on health care and state operational efficiencies under Hickenlooper.

An August news release announcing her exploratory effort included a comment from Hickenlooper, who called Lynne “one of the most talented people I have ever worked with.”

“Her long record of exemplary success, both in business and in public service, more than earns her the right to run for governor,” he said in the release. “Colorado is fortunate to have someone with Donna’s dedication and tenacity who wants to lead our state.”

The popular governor’s public support for Lynne is a boon to her campaign as she prepares to compete in a competitive primary.

The race includes U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, former state Sen. Mike Johnston, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy and Denver civics leader Noel Ginsburg. (U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter was in the running for a couple months but dropped out and later said he would seek reelection to his suburban congressional seat.)

Lynne could bring a more moderate approach to the race. Having served as the chairwoman of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and given her prior work as the executive vice president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Lynne has developed many contacts in the business community.

The Associated Press

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.