Libertarian Todd Mitchem will announce a campaign to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, pointing to his background in the marijuana industry.
Mitchem and his wife, Diana, operate a government affairs and community outreach firm, TMC Partners, which develops strategies for cannabis businesses. He serves as senior government and community affairs liaison for The Green Solution, one of the state’s largest dispensary chains.
Mitchem said he became more heavily involved in the marijuana industry after watching his mother’s battles with cancer, which she beat on two occasions. Mitchem’s mother turned to cannabis and survived, he said.
“I, like millions of Americans, have always believed that the men and women we elect to office have a responsibility to fix the broken parts of our government in a way that helps all Americans,” Mitchem said in a statement. “But after being nearly financially devastated and almost losing my business to rising healthcare premiums and hefty tax burdens, I started to become frustrated by the status quo… I became so fed up that I said, ‘It’s time for me to get in the game.’”
Mitchem acknowledges that he is the “underdog” in the 2nd Congressional District Race, where Democrat Joe Neguse, the former executive director of the state Department of Regulatory Agencies and a former CU regent, has emerged as the front-runner.
Loveland resident Howard Dotson has also filed to run on the Democratic ticket.
Polis, a Democrat, has said that he is not seeking re-election next year, as he mounts a campaign for governor.
Mitchem pointed to dissatisfaction with the current political system, highlighting a 2015 Gallup poll which found that 42 percent of voters identify as independents or Libertarians, compared with 29 percent who identify as a Democrat, and 26 percent who identify as a Republican.
“I am not a career politician who wants more of the same; I am a hard-working father and a husband who’s been focused on making ends meet while also questioning why our government is not working together,” Mitchem said. “It’s time to come up with solutions to the problems that plague our daily lives and finally take action. It’s time for collaboration, leadership skill, and a renewed focus on the real issues that are eroding our freedom while downgrading the American dream down to a mere fleeting fantasy.”
Mitchem said his campaign is planning town hall events and tours of businesses in Congressional District 2. Noting that he is also an author, Mitchem said he will be giving away copies of his book, “You, Disrupted,” at the events.
Mitchem will need to reach a large swath of voters from varying backgrounds in the sprawling district, which includes all or part of Boulder, Larimer, Broomfield, Jefferson, Clear Creek, Eagle, Gilpin, Grand, Summit and Park counties.
Republicans have not yet announced plans for a formidable candidate in the left-leaning district. The Boulder-centric district has been represented by Democrats — Mark Udall, David Skaggs and Tim Wirth, before Polis — for more than 40 years. It includes many of Colorado’s most well known ski areas on the I-70 corridor.
“I understand that being a Libertarian/independent-minded thinker makes me an outsider to the two-party system in Washington, but I think it’s time for a new leader to emerge who listens to independent, centrist and Libertarian voters, as well as those Republicans and Democrats who are also fed up,” Mitchem said.
“Over the course of this race, I will get the word out to Washington that we in America are tired of being ignored. I will be the unifying voice for those people who have none. I think people are done with the inaction in Washington and they are starting to demand their government get to work, regardless of obstacles or the president. Excuse time is over.”