Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 28, 20175min520

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.”


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 14, 20172min270

By any standard, Nick Thomas is the longest of long shots for winning Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District seat, which five-term incumbent Boulder Democrat Jared Polis, now a candidate for governor, will leave after 2018. Sure, Thomas is so far one of only two declared candidates for CD 2, but the other is Democratic rising star Joe Neguse.

Neguse is of course the presumptive favorite: Never mind his other attributes; Neguse is the only Democrat running in a district that only elects Democrats. Thomas is a proud unaffiliated voter. And even if fully a third of Colorado’s electorate is unaffiliated, an unaffiliated candidate is about as likely to win a congressional seat — or any other partisan elective office in Colorado — as is a member of United Russia (aka Vladimir Putin’s party).

As of Thomas’s latest filing with the Federal Election Commission, he had reported no campaign contributions.

But Thomas does have one thing going for him: He now has an official page on Ballotpedia, the Wikipedia of all things political. (Take care not to confuse him with the Nick Thomas who was an unsuccessful candidate for Arizona state Senate in 2012.)

So, in a sense, he has arrived. Now, about that fund-raising…



Ernest LuningErnest LuningJuly 29, 20176min320

After serving 15 years in the Legislature, state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, a Berthoud Republican, hopes to bring what he's learned about Colorado government to the office of state treasurer. On Saturday, Lundberg declared he's running for the open seat in next year's election, becoming the fourth Republican in a primary race that's likely to get even more crowded.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 15, 20172min100

…Courtesy of Colorado Peak Politics. The other day we cited Colorado Pols’ insights on which Republicans might want to vie for one of the longer shots in state politics — representing the GOP in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Jared Polis in the decidedly Democratic 2nd Congressional District. Citing “speculation,” Pols named state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, of Berthoud, and former state Rep. B.J. Nikkel, of Loveland as possible contenders for the CD 2 Republican nomination.

Peak reached out to Nikkel to confirm or deny: She more or less confirmed — that she’s seriously thinking about it:

“…I will be exploring a potential run and spending time over the next several weeks talking it over with my family, with trusted friends and seeking their advice.”

No word yet on whether Lundberg’s in.

Either would have an uphill climb of Himalayan proportion in trying to take the seat from the Democrats in the Boulder-centric district.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 13, 20173min110

…even if they don’t stand much of a chance of capturing the seat being vacated by five-term U.S. Rep. Jared Polis in the indelibly Democratic, Boulder-centered district. Still, thanks to Colorado Pols for profiling a couple of prospects for the GOP nomination in the upcoming race.

Polis of course has announced his intention to run for governor in 2018, and Democrats Joe Neguse and Ken Toltz already are vying for the chance to replace him. Others reportedly may want in.

Pols reports Republicans also are said to be eyeing their options in what would be an uphill battle to say the least:

With Polis now trading up, speculation for a Republican CD-2 challenger is focusing as of this writing on two possible candidates: state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, the arch-conservative state lawmaker who lost against Polis in 2012, and former state Rep. BJ Nikkel. Nikkel, who earned praise on both sides of the aisle for her support for civil unions legislation in 2012, was a major local proponent of now-President Donald Trump’s campaign — a gamble that could pay off now in the form of high-level support if she were to run for Congress, though it leaves her vulnerable with the anti-Trump majority of voters in general.

Lundberg continues to be one of the state GOP’s unflinchingly conservative standard bearers while Nikkel, as noted by Pols, has a penchant for departing from party orthodoxy. As Pols also points out, the GOP doesn’t think it really has a chance in the district no matter who its nominee turns out to be.


Joey BunchJoey BunchJune 11, 20174min323

No sooner had U.S. Rep. Jared Polis announced his plans to run for Colorado governor next year than we hear that activist and businessman Ken Toltz will seek Polis’ seat in Congress from the 2nd Congressional District.

Toltz has been a player in Colorado politics for awhile, but he’s perhaps best known as the founder of Safe Campus Colorado, a citizens group opposed to concealed weapons on college campuses. He was one of the founding board members of the well-known Colorado Ceasefire, a gun prevention group.

Toltz was the 2000 Democratic nominee in the 6th Congressional District, when he lost to Tom Tancredo, 54 percent to 42. The leftward tilt to the Boulder County-centric 2nd Congressional District should be a more favorable to a Democrat such as Toltz.

A native of southeast Denver and a third-generation Coloradan, Toltz has lived in Boulder since 2013.

He was a board member for Colorado Conservation Voters, known today as the environmental titan Conservation Colorado, as well as a former board member of the Front Range Economic Strategy Center, which supports a politically left-learning approach to economic development. He also has logged service on the Denver Chamber of Commerce’s Labor Task Force-Metro Denver Network and the chamber’s Public Affairs Committee.

He goes back a ways in Democratic campaign politics. In 1984 Toltz was the deputy national finance director for Colorado Sen. Gary Hart’s presidential campaign, and he’s worked on congressional campaigns for Democratic candidates over the years.

Toltz also worked in the legislative department of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C., then was director of the Washington PAC. He is a founding Colorado member of the National Jewish Democratic Coalition, and remains active with AIPAC and J Street, both of which support closer ties between and U.S. and Israel.

Toltz has served on the boards of the Denver-Boulder Better Business Bureau, the Anti-Defamation League and the Corporate Alliance for Better Air,  as well as on the Citizens Advisory Panel for the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

His business resume is nearly as extensive as his political activism. Toltz is formerly the president of Dependable Southwest Inc., which owned and operated a chain of Dependable Cleaners stores in southwest Denver, Lakewood, Littleton and Evergreen.

He’s also has been in management roles with United Banks of Colorado and Brothers Gourmet Coffees, he said.