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Victor Mitchell wins straw poll at Colorado Hispanic Republicans’ gubernatorial forum

Author: Ernest Luning - January 19, 2018 - Updated: January 19, 2018

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Republican gubernatorial candidates, from left, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, former investment banker Doug Robinson, businessman Victor Mitchell, Trump campaign alumni Steve Barlock and former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez participate in a forum sponsored by the Colorado Hispanic Republicans on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, in Westminster. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Republican gubernatorial candidates, from left, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, former investment banker Doug Robinson, businessman Victor Mitchell, Trump campaign alumni Steve Barlock and former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez participate in a forum sponsored by the Colorado Hispanic Republicans on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, in Westminster. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Republican Victor Mitchell topped a straw poll conducted Wednesday night by the Colorado Hispanic Republicans at a forum for gubernatorial candidates in Westminster.

The entrepreneur and former state lawmaker garnered 38 percent of the vote, running well ahead of four other Republicans who participated in the forum and one — former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo — who didn’t make it because of a bout with the flu.

In all, 10 GOP candidates are in a primary for the office held by Gov. John Hickenlooper, a term-limited Democrat. Eight Democrats are running for the job.

Out of 81 votes cast in the straw poll at Wednesday’s forum, Mitchell got 30, followed by Trump campaign veteran Steve Barlock with 17, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez tied with 10 votes apiece, Tancredo with 9 and former investment banker Doug Robinson with 5 votes.

“My strong relations with many Hispanic business owners and operators through the years played a role in the win,” said Mitchell, who has launched several real estate and technology businesses over a long career, in a statement. He added that the win demonstrates his ability to win Hispanic support — crucial in a state where Latinos make up more than 20 percent of the population.

“Unless we nominate a candidate that appeals to swing Hispanic voters, we’ll have a hard time defeating the Democrat nominee,” Mitchell said.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III didn’t attend the forum and weren’t included on the ballot. Neither were activists Jim Rundberg and Terri Ann Kear, who have also filed to run.

Mitchell, who has put more than $3 million into his campaign, finished the year with the most cash in his campaign account among statewide candidates, according to reports filed this week, while Stapleton set a record for the most money raised in an off-year quarter by a Colorado gubernatorial candidate.

Stapleton won two recent straw polls sponsored by Republican groups  in Mesa County and Weld County, and Mitchell came out on top in a straw poll conducted at the Arapahoe County GOP’s Christmas party.

Underlining the non-scientific, non-predictive nature of straw polls — pundits say they might be good for bragging rights but do more to winnow out weak candidates than crown nominees — 18th Judicial District attorney George Brauchler, the 18th Judicial District attorney, racked up a string of straw poll wins just weeks before switching from the governor’s race to a run for attorney general in November.

Voters get a chance to weigh in for the first time at precinct caucuses on March 6, when delegate selection for the April 14 state assemblies kicks off.

Candidates aiming for a spot on the June 26 primary ballot can get there by winning 30 percent of delegates at state assembly or by turning in 1,500 valid signatures from each of the state’s seven congressional districts by March 20. Among the Republicans running for governor, Stapleton, Mitchell, Robinson and Coffman have said they’re petitioning, while the others plan to go through the caucus and assembly process.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.