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Walker Stapleton clobbers primary competition in straw poll at GOP gubernatorial forum

Author: Ernest Luning - November 15, 2017 - Updated: November 15, 2017

Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton (Gazette file photo)

Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton notched a landslide win in a straw poll conducted Monday night at a Weld County forum for Republican gubernatorial candidates, attracting a hair under half the vote.

Out of 85 votes cast in the non-binding straw poll, Stapleton received 42, ahead of runner-up Tom Tancredo, the former congressman who launched his third run for governor just two weeks earlier, who had 15 votes.

Seven Republicans spent a couple hours answering questions — agreeing on most topics — and pitching themselves to a crowd of about 100 people at the event in Fort Lupton, which was held inside an actual fort and was sponsored by the Republican Women of Weld.

It was the first chance to see the recently shuffled lineup of GOP candidates, although the latest entrant, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, was returning from a previously scheduled trip and didn’t attend.

Also missing from the forum was George Brauchler, the 18th Judicial District attorney, who withdrew from the governor’s race that morning so he could run for attorney general. Since mid-summer, Brauchler had racked up a series of wins in gubernatorial primary straw polls, including at the Western Conservative Summit and following a forum last month sponsored by the Colorado Federation of Republican Women. So far, he’s the only Republican running for attorney general.

The other Republicans at Monday’s forum included former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, who ran third in the straw poll with 11 votes, followed by investment banker Doug Robinson — he joked that the media refers to him as “Mitt Romney’s nephew,” which is true, but also sought to distinguish himself from the former presidential nominee — with 6 votes. Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III was next, with 5 votes, then came Denver Trump campaign co-chair Steve Barlock with 4 votes, and businessman and former state lawmaker Vic Mitchell with 2 votes.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Stapleton said in an email to supporters announcing his win in the poll. “This is a great first step, but we are laser-focused on beating Democrat Jared Polis.”

Since he got in the race, Stapleton has been attacking Polis, a Boulder congressman and one of five leading Democrats running for governor. The others are Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston and businessman Noel Ginsburg.

The incumbent governor, Democrat John Hickenlooper, is term-limited.

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.