Colorado Republican Brett Barkey announces run for state treasurer

Author: Peter Marcus - August 11, 2017 - Updated: August 11, 2017

Republican state treasurer candidate Brett Barkey. (Photo courtesy of Barkey campaign)

The district attorney of Grand, Moffat and Routt counties, Brett Barkey, announced on Friday that he is running for state treasurer on the Republican ticket.

Barkey, from Steamboat Springs, cited his “family’s deep roots” in Colorado and public service as a reason for entering the race.

“Sitting around the breakfast table with my grandparents growing up, I remember being riveted by their stories of our family crossing the plains in a covered wagon, serving in the Civil War, representing Chaffee County in Colorado’s territorial legislature and then the state Senate, and building roads as part of Colorado’s first highway commission,” Barkey said in a statement announcing his campaign.

“They spoke of our family’s farmers, teachers and preachers tending after Colorado’s crops, minds and souls. As a youngster, I did not fully appreciate how much I had been impacted by what my grandparents shared.”

A Marine veteran, Barkey served in the military before moving to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he acted as counsel and as assistant director of enforcement for the Office of Foreign Asset Control.

He was mobilized several times as a Marine reservist after the Sept. 11th attacks, which included three tours in Iraq. Barkey retired as a colonel after 25 years of active and reserve service.

He was twice elected to the 14th Judicial District in northwest Colorado, winning elections in 2012 and 2016. Barkey began his career as a deputy district attorney in Colorado Springs in 1987.

“The foremost duty of the state treasurer is, of course, safeguarding the state’s funds,” Barkey said in a statement.

He said he would focus on three areas, including making the treasurer’s office a “center of service” to county, special district, and municipal treasurers across the state; emphasizing the office’s “role” as the “go-to” expert in financial management for the governor and state legislature; and ensuring the “prompt return of unclaimed properties to their rightful owners.”

The news release announcing Barkey’s candidacy makes no mention of perhaps the biggest issue facing the next treasurer, which is the long-term stability of the state’s retirement system for public employees.

PERA officials are considering new reforms to address a minimum $32 billion unfunded liability. The state treasurer sits on the PERA board as an ex officio member.

The treasurer’s seat is open after next year when current Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a Republican, is term limited. Stapleton is considering a run for governor.

Several Republicans have already announced their candidacy in the race for treasurer, including state Reps. Justin Everett and Polly Lawrence, both of Littleton, and Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn.

On the Democratic side, state Rep. Steve Lebsock of Thornton has announced a run.

In explaining his run for treasurer, Barkey recalled a “life-changing incident” that occurred in his second Iraq tour.

“On a convoy from Baghdad to Fallujah late one night, my truck was hit by an RPG. That RPG did not detonate, and if it had, I would not be here,” Barkey said. “So many young Americans were not as blessed. So to me, public service is the legacy I offer for those who did not come home.”

Peter Marcus

Peter Marcus

Peter Marcus is senior statehouse reporter for Colorado Politics. He covers the legislature and previously covered politics, the governor’s office, the legislature and Congress for The Durango Herald. He joined The Herald in 2014 from The Colorado Statesman, a Denver-based political weekly. The Washington Post twice named Marcus one of the nation’s top state-based political and legislative reporters.