Republican Victor Mitchell trying to raise his profile from ‘lowest name ID’ for Colorado governor
Author: Joey Bunch - June 13, 2017 - Updated: June 13, 2017
Months after he announced plans for governor and even more months before a Republican primary, Victor Mitchell is trying not be forgotten of a crescendo of new candidates.
Mitchell, the tech entrepreneur and former state representative from Douglas County, was one of the first in the race when he announced his candidacy in February. Since then, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler and Mitt Romney’s nephew Doug Robinson have joined, along with Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter.
Two other big names, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, also could jump in the race this summer.
And that’s just on the Republican side. The Democratic field added U.S. Rep. Jared Polis Sunday, following another congressman, Ed Perlmutter, who got in the race in April, plus former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Michael Johnston and others.
“I probably have the lowest name ID, but we’re getting out there now,” Mitchell said inside the state Capitol Monday afternoon.
At one juncture in the 45-minute chat, Mitchell said that the only candidate he’s focused on is him. But the one-term state legislator who chose not to run for re-election said, “It’s about time we have a leader instead of a political hack. We have too many political people who run from one job to another to another.”
With name ID comes money.
Mitchell loaned his campaign $3 million to get started, but he’s vague about where he’ll get the donors to pay that back to himself, plus millions more he would need to make it to Election Day. Three times he waved off specifically saying where that financial support might come from, but he left open the door to more of it coming from his own pocket.
“We’ve put in $3 million, hopefully it gets paid back, but if it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world,” he said. “It’s a down payment on the future of Colorado. Obviously, I’m not a Bush. I’m not a Romney. I wasn’t born on third base. I’m a self-made guy, and I love this state.”
Stapleton is a cousin to the Bush White House families.
Pressed on the subject, Mitchell said he didn’t vote for Donald Trump, his party’s nominee. He instead cast a ballot for Evan McMullin, the independent candidate.
Mitchell said his governing priorities include “dramatically cutting all our regulations” and promoting entrepreneurship.
He called the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, which provided insurance to thousands of Coloradans, a boondoggle. He would favor block grants to start nurse-practitioner staffed clinics for primary care.
“That begs the question of why do you even need insurance for primary care?” he said. “You should be able to go and get high-quality, patient-centered care without insurance, but we’re not even thinking about these types of things.”
Mitchell would support taking state money away from cities deemed to have sanctuary city policies, a measure a federal court judge already has told the Trump administration would not likely pass a constitutional challenge. He is quick to say that court decision isn’t final, and he thinks Colorado can add nuance to make it work.
If Democrats retain the House next year, where they already have a 37-28 edge, that proposal is dead on arrival, the same way the idea died last session.
He’s also spoiling for a fight with teachers unions. Mitchell said he would weaken them by offering new teachers incentives not to join the union (“there can be any number of options available,” including compensation). as well as curriculum flexibility, pay for performance and other education initiatives that Republican voters might love but Democratic legislators won’t allow.
“The unions don’t want to give up any power, at the end of the day,” Mitchell said. “And if it means a math teacher (position) not being filled in rural Colorado rather than hire an unaccredited teacher who has 30 years of industry experience as a scientist or engineer with a deep math background, they would rather for not filling that math teacher job,” he said.
He said he would pay for transportation and other costs by doing a performance audit of the Colorado Department of Transportation and all over state agencies to look for ways to shrink the agencies to steer money into highways.
Mitchell said he would fire Shailen Bhatt, the current highway director.
“Nice guy, couldn’t meet a nicer guy,” he said of his meeting with Bhatt. “He’s absolutely the wrong guy to be running such an important state bureaucracy. Terrible guy, he’s going to be gone on day one, not because he’s a bad person but because he’s never, ever worked in the private sector.”