Election 2018GovernorHot Sheet

Walker Stapleton launches TV ad campaign as GOP primary for Colo. governor heats up

Author: Ernest Luning - May 15, 2018 - Updated: May 17, 2018


Just three weeks before Colorado voters start receiving mail ballots for the June 26 primary, Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton is debuting his TV campaign with an ad that features a cameo appearance by President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, Stapleton plans to start airing a 30-second commercial that describes the two-term state treasurer as “a conservative who gets things done,” his campaign told Colorado Politics. The campaign is spending an initial $700,000 on the ad, which will run statewide on broadcast and cable.

“As Colorado’s treasurer, I stopped the largest tax increase in state history, and I led the fight against a single-payer health care system — and we won again,” a smiling Stapleton says in the ad, which also pictures his wife, Jenna, and their three young children.

Then, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence smile and wave as they briefly cross the screen. Stapleton brings up two key issues for Trump supporters — the Republican tax reform bill and so-called sanctuary cities.

“I was the only (state) treasurer in the country with the courage to support Donald Trump’s tax cuts, and as your next governor, I’ll end these dangerous sanctuary city policies. I’ll take the fight to the liberals and beat ’em again,” Stapleton says.

A “Truth Test” report by Brandon Rittiman of 9News labeled as “false” the assertion about Stapleton standing alone in support of the Trump tax changes, citing examples of several other state treasurers who publicly backed the tax measure.

According to a poll conducted by Magellan Strategies, a Colorado-based GOP firm, Republican primary voters overwhelmingly approve of the job Trump is doing and think the top priority for the next governor should be enforcing federal immigration laws.

Three other Republicans are running in the primary: businessman and former state lawmaker Victor Mitchell, retired investment advisor Doug Robinson and restaurant owner and former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez.

Stapleton’s ad buy amounts to about half the roughly $1.5 million Mitchell has so far spent on an ongoing TV and radio campaign that began in early April. Robinson has spent a more modest $62,000 on TV ads, according to media consultants, but Lopez has yet to purchase broadcast or cable time.

The ad buy Stapleton’s campaign announced Tuesday accounts for a hefty share of the money he had on hand at the beginning of May, when his campaign reported he had about $831,000 in the bank.

A Stapleton campaign spokesman told Colorado Politics that the ad is scheduled to run through the primary but added that the size of the buy will likely increase as the campaign raises more money in coming weeks.

Better Colorado Now, a super PAC supporting Stapleton, went on the air with a six-figure ad buy touting Stapleton’s conservative credentials during the first week of April.

The proposed tax increase referenced by Stapleton was Amendment 66, a 2013 ballot measure that would have established a two-tier income tax system in Colorado and raised an additional $1 billion for education funding. Voters defeated it by about 30 points.

In 2016, voters defeated Amendment 69, a proposed single-payer health care plan that was opposed by dozens of officials and organizations across the political spectrum, by a nearly 60-point margin.

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.