Governor Archives - Colorado Politics
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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 15, 20176min2311
Donna Lynne
Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne (Photo by Nicole Cassou/The Colorado Statesman file photo)

If Colorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne isn’t yet running for governor on the Democratic ticket, it’s sure hard to tell from her fundraising emails and candidate committee.

The lieutenant governor and chief operating officer for the state announced earlier this month that she is “actively” exploring a run for governor. It appears now that she is likely to formally jump into the race within the next few weeks, Colorado Politics has learned.

Colorado Politics was the first to extensively interview Lynne on the subject in a story that appeared last month.

On Aug. 1, Lynne established a candidate committee with the secretary of state’s office called “Lynne for Colorado.” Her first financial filings are due on Oct. 16, and she has been actively raising money since her “exploratory” announcement.

A fundraising email from Lynne dated Aug. 10 states, “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.”

For a potential candidate who has only declared that she is “exploring” a run for governor, the fundraising email and candidate committee makes it seem like she’s leaning in the direction of establishing a formal campaign.

Lynne, 63, has served as lieutenant governor since May 2016.

Since being sworn in as Colorado’s lieutenant governor, Lynne has taken the reins on health care and state operational efficiencies under Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is term-limited after next year.

In another sign that Lynne is taking her potential candidacy seriously, the news release announcing her exploratory effort includes a comment from Hickenlooper.

“Lt. Gov. and Chief Operating Officer Donna Lynne is one of the most talented people I have ever worked with,” Hickenlooper said. “Her long record of exemplary success, both in business and in public service, more than earns her the right to run for governor. 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 dropped out of the race last month after just three months of campaigning.

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 Republican field also is crowded. District Attorney George Brauchler, entrepreneur and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell and investment banker Doug Robinson, who also happens to be Mitt Romney’s nephew, are the best-known candidates.

But more high-profile Republican names are expected to enter the primary, including State Treasurer Walker Stapleton. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is also seriously considering a run on the Republican ticket.

“It’s clear that voters in Colorado are looking for a candidate who will work to keep us moving in the right direction. As Lt. Governor and Chief Operating Officer, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to all 64 counties and meet with many Coloradans, including community leaders,” Lynne writes in the fundraising email.

“Through my travel to all four corners of this state, I’ve been inspired to think about how I can best continue to serve.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 1, 20175min2520

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne announced Tuesday she is “actively” exploring a run for governor, her most public signal yet that she will shake up a crowded Democratic field, Colorado Politics has learned.

Colorado Politics first reported last month that she was considering a run for governor. She took that exploration to the next level on Tuesday morning with a news release explaining her thinking.

“Today, as we celebrate what makes the 38th state special on Colorado Day, I’m committed to doing everything in my power to make sure it stays that way,” Lynne said in a statement.

“For the last 15 months, 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, 63, has served as lieutenant governor since May 2016.

Since being sworn in as Colorado’s lieutenant governor, Lynne has taken the reins on health care and state operational efficiencies under Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is term-limited after next year.

Hickenlooper offered a comment for her formal exploratory announcement.

“Lt. Gov. and Chief Operating Officer Donna Lynne is one of the most talented people I have ever worked with,” Hickenlooper said. “Her long record of exemplary success, both in business and in public service, more than earns her the right to run for governor. Colorado is fortunate to have someone with Donna’s dedication and tenacity who wants to lead our state.”

Recent changes in the Democratic primary for governor – which takes place next June – could push Lynne closer to a decision to run in the already crowded primary. U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Arvada surprisingly dropped out of the race, leaving an uncertain fate for the party.

Still left in the race is U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, former state Sen. Mike Johnston, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy and Denver civics leader Noel Ginsburg.

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 Republican field also is crowded. District Attorney George Brauchler, entrepreneur and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell and investment banker Doug Robinson, who also happens to be Mitt Romney’s nephew, are the best-known candidate.

But more high-profile Republican names are expected to enter the primary, including State Treasurer Walker Stapleton. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is also seriously considering a run on the Republican ticket.

Lynne’s health care agenda this year included measures aimed at curbing the opioid crisis, lowering the cost of health care outside of Denver, and bringing transparency to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, to name a few priorities.

While health care takes up about 35 percent of her time along with work on education, Lynne also serves as the state’s chief operating officer. In her capacity as chief operating officer, Lynne pushes a theme of “accountability” and “transparency.” Work includes improving annual performance plans for the state and conducting quarterly performance reviews across all departments.

When Lynne is not climbing 14,000-foot mountains in Colorado and traveling the state in between 14-hour work days, she is drawing upon her background in public service. She said her transition into office was relatively easy given her background in government, having spent a total of 20 years working in various positions in New York City government.

Lynne said she expects to make a final decision on entering the Democratic primary by early September. She is also expected to hold a media availability on Tuesday.

“Given the current state of affairs in this country, I believe we need pragmatic leaders who care about people and are willing to put politics aside and get things done,” Lynne said. “I’ve spent my career helping people and leading big organizations — both in government and in the private sector. That’s the kind of experience we need right now.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 25, 20175min3612
Ted Nugent. (AP file)

Conservative aging rocker rabble-rouser Ted Nugent has “cat scratch Brauchler” after supporting the Republican gubernatorial candidate on social media late Monday afternoon.

The ardent Second Amendment supporter pointed to Brauchler’s recent win during the Conservative Western Summit’s straw poll over the weekend, in which the district attorney won with 39 percent of the vote.

“I just heard that he won the conservative summit straw poll bigtime! Godbless Brauchler and show him your support! It’s time that the good people of Colorado get their state back!” Nugent said in a Facebook post.

A vocal supporter of the Republican Party, and a Donald Trump backer, the Motor City Madman pointed to Brauchler’s work as the lead prosecutor in the Aurora movie theater shooting case. The jury ultimately refused to sentence James Holmes to die for killing 12 people and injuring at least 70, despite Brauchler’s best efforts.

“As Arapahoe District Attorney, he prosecuted the Aurora monster and knows full well that more gunlaws wouldn’t have made a damn difference in any democrat gunfree slaughtetzone!” Nugent wrote on Facebook. “In fact, like the rest of us, he knows that creating a gunfreezone at the theater made those poor people targets. And he fully supports conceal carry training and the right to carry because it reduces crime…dramatically. Sounds like help is on the way for Colorado thanks to Brauchler.”

Colorado Politics did not edit the Nugent Facebook post for grammar and spelling errors.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is term limited after next year. Several Republicans are already running in the race in addition to Brauchler, including former state Rep. Victor Mitchell, and investment banker Doug Robinson, who is Mitt Romney’s nephew.

The Republican field for governor is expected to grow with state Treasurer Walker Stapleton. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is also seriously considering a run.

Brauchler recently earned the support of dozens of leaders in Colorado’s wildlife conservation and gun-rights communities, who gathered to launch the Sportsmen and Gun Owners for Brauchler coalition.

In response to the Nugent Facebook post, Brauchler’s campaign said, “As an avid sportsman and advocate for the Second Amendment, it is no surprise that Mr. Nugent chose to throw his support behind George Brauchler for governor of Colorado.

“George recently received endorsements from many of Colorado’s top conservation and outdoor recreation leaders because, according to a release, ‘George Brauchler understands the issues important to Colorado sportsmen and women, conservationists and gun owners, which is why his support in this and other areas is so widespread.’ The enthusiasm for George Brauchler’s candidacy has been growing throughout Colorado and has apparently reached as far as Ted Nugent’s desk in Michigan.”

Nugent’s Facebook post starts, “Dear conservative God in heaven! There is constitutional we the people hope for Colorado to come out of this embarrassing antiAmerican political tailspin. It is time to make Colorado Colorado again and we finally have the right man to get it done! For all my gunloving, backstrap rockin real American shitkicker BloodBrothers in Colorado, check out George Brauchler for Governor.”

Rick Enstrom, one of the principals at Colorado’s Enstrom Candies and a Colorado Republican political figure, responded on Facebook, “Love him or hate him, Teddy will make this race even more interesting. Ted will access a huge audience of dedicated sportsmen for the Brauchler for Governor campaign! I made Ted an honorary lifetime CO Wildlife Commissioner in 2007. The Nuge is Yuuge.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 17, 20173min2451

Former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, a Democrat running for governor, reported raising $343,000 in her first fundraising period.

The campaign said that 92 percent of contributors reside in Colorado. Kennedy received contributions from 34 of the state’s 64 counties. The campaign received 1,705 donations, more than half of which were under $100.

Kennedy announced her campaign in April with the hopes of replacing Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is term limited after next year.

Kennedy is one of several Democrats running in a crowded primary field. The race was shaken up last week when U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Arvada announced that he would no longer seek the governor’s office.

Perlmutter’s departure leaves Kennedy in the race along with U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder, Denver civics leader Noel Ginsburg, and former state Sen. Mike Johnston.

“I am honored to have the support of so many Coloradans across our state,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Thank you to all of my supporters. Together we will work to make sure every Coloradan benefits from the progress we’ve made.”

Reports are due to the state by the end of Monday. Kennedy’s detailed campaign finance report was not immediately available on the secretary of state’s website.

Her campaign pointed to an endorsement by EMILY’s List as a signal of momentum. The organization is the largest that is dedicated to women in politics. Kennedy would be the first woman to serve as governor of Colorado.

Johnston earlier on Monday reported raising more than $300,000 in his second fundraising period. He has close to $1 million in fundraising to boast. Ginsburg filed a report for just under $93,000 in contributions in his second fundraising period. Numbers for Polis were not yet available.

It’s possible that the Democratic field for governor could grow, with Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne rumored as a candidate.

The Republican field for governor includes District Attorney George Brauchler, entrepreneur and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell, and investment banker Doug Robinson, who also happens to be Mitt Romney’s nephew.

The Republican field for governor is expected to grow with state Treasurer Walker Stapleton. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is also seriously considering a run.


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 17, 20174min4342
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston, a former state senator from Denver, speaks with voters at a campaign event on Saturday, March 4, 2017, at Belmar Library in Lakewood. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston, a former state senator from Denver, speaks with voters at a campaign event on Saturday, March 4, 2017, at Belmar Library in Lakewood. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

Former state Sen. Mike Johnston, a Democrat running for governor, is reporting raising more than $300,000 in his second fundraising period.

The haul builds off of an impressive first quarter for Johnston, who raised a record $625,000. With the first-quarter report, Johnston’s total fundraising is at just under $1 million, which is more than any non-incumbent Colorado candidate for governor has raised by this point in an election cycle, according to the campaign.

Johnston, from Denver, jumped into the race in January with the hopes of replacing Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is term limited after next year.

Johnston is one of several Democrats running in a crowded primary field. The race was shaken up last week when U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Arvada announced that he would no longer seek the governor’s office.

Perlmutter’s departure leaves Johnston in the race along with U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder, Denver civics leader Noel Ginsburg, and former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy.

“We have been traveling the state building this grassroots movement, and our powerful fundraising numbers continue to prove that people are hungry for a leader who can build a bold vision for Colorado’s future and bridge the divides to get those big things done together,” Johnston said in a statement.

Reports are due to the state by the end of Monday. Johnston’s detailed campaign finance report was not immediately available on the secretary of state’s website.

Johnston’s campaign said he received contributions from residents in 43 of Colorado’s 64 counties. He received donations from nearly 1,200 individuals in the second quarter, with an average of $193 per contribution.

“My refusal to accept PAC money, and the fact that I cannot simply write a personal check to fund this campaign, places a premium on grassroots fundraising,” Johnston said. “So I am gratified to have so many small donors supporting our campaign, with more than 4,000 donations to date.”

It’s possible that the Democratic field for governor could grow, with Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne rumored as a candidate.

The Republican field for governor includes District Attorney George Brauchler, entrepreneur and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell, and investment banker Doug Robinson, who also happens to be Mitt Romney’s nephew.

The Republican field for governor is expected to grow with state Treasurer Walker Stapleton. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is also seriously considering a run.


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Rachael WrightRachael WrightJune 8, 20178min103

Thirty Years Ago this Week in The Colorado Statesman … Elie Wiesel and Emil Hecht received honorary degrees in Humane Letters from the University of Denver at “A Triumph of Conscience” dinner which was attended by 1,400 distinguished eventgoers. Dr. Dwight Smith, Chancellor of the University of Denver, said the honors were bestowed on “two whose contributions to the welfare of humanity surpass our ability to ...


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Peter MarcusMay 19, 20175min1421

The Colorado Democratic race for governor could get ugly.

Colorado Politics’ inbox is already filled with opposition emails that have revolved around the gubernatorial campaigns for U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter and former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy.

It started with a fundraising email. Kennedy’s opponents pointed out that a fundraising event for Kennedy gave the impression that high-profile Colorado women were supporting her campaign, though several “sponsors” hadn’t made formal endorsements.

The email for the event this month listed women such as Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, First Lady Robin Hickenlooper and Susan Daggett, the wife of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, as sponsors for an Electing Women luncheon.

The event was organized by Electing Women, a Denver-based federal political action committee dedicated to raising money for pro-choice women running for governor and U.S. Senate seats around the country. But the fundraising email for the luncheon honoring Kennedy was paid for by “Cary Kennedy for Governor.”

There is no indication that the women on the fundraising email formally endorsed Kennedy at the time. A spokeswoman for Lynne, for example, said, “The name on the invitation is not intended and should not be viewed as an endorsement. She has not committed to supporting any individual candidate.”

Still, the fundraising event raised just under $50,000, according to the Kennedy campaign, and “sponsors” of the event didn’t appear overly upset about how the email was portrayed when asked by Colorado Politics.

Still, Kennedy opponents think the optics of the fundraising event were disingenuous by suggesting that the women had “sponsored” the event, which they believe could have been construed as a Kennedy endorsement.

Meanwhile, anonymous anti-Perlmutter emails also are landing in Colorado Politics’ inbox.

“Ed Perlmutter has missed more than twice as many votes as anyone else in the Colorado delegation this year. In fact, it’s worse than 89% of his fellow members of congress in the House,” read the anonymous email.

“This isn’t a new trend for him. His absences in congress have been a problem for years,” the anti-Perlmutter email continued.

The Perlmutter campaign, however, points out that sometimes “life takes over.” Perlmutter has been forced to grapple with his wife Nancy’s cancer and recent heart surgery for his father, who is in his 90s. The campaign estimates that about 75 votes were missed for family issues.

Perlmutter missed 242 votes out of more than 6,900 over the course of his 10 years in Congress, which puts him at about 3.5 percent of missed votes and somewhere in the middle of the pack for the Colorado congressional delegation.

“Ed loves politics,” continued the anonymous email critical of the congressman. “But it’s all for the sake of politics. His hasty announcement without a real campaign structure or any evidence that he was prepared to make this run. His scattered messaging on the stump so far. His missed votes. He didn’t want to miss a political opportunity, so he jumped at it.”

A Perlmutter spokeswoman countered, “Life sometimes has to take over, and I don’t know that Ed’s any different than anyone else where he’s had some serious family issues that he’s had to deal with.”

Back to the Kennedy fundraising email. Heather Lurie, an organizer for Electing Women, told Colorado Politics that the organization apologizes “for any confusion we have caused,” adding that the organization acknowledges “there are sensitivities,” and that it reached out to sponsors to clarify the confusion.

Lurie pointed out that the way Electing Women has been structured for the past 17 years is that it organizes events for candidates, but then it allows the candidates to do the fundraising themselves, as was the case with the paid for by “Cary Kennedy for Governor” disclosure.

Other Democrats in the race, including former state Sen. Mike Johnston and civics leader Noel Ginsburg, have so far been less targeted. As attacks intensify in the Republican gubernatorial race, Colorado Politics will follow those as well.

But if we’re seeing attacks like these so far ahead of the 2018 election, you might want to buckle your seatbelt, because this could be a bumpy ride.