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Walker Stapleton tops gubernatorial straw poll after Mesa County GOP candidate forum

Author: Ernest Luning - January 12, 2018 - Updated: January 12, 2018

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Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton (Gazette file photo)

Republican Walker Stapleton won a straw poll conducted Thursday night at the conclusion of a GOP gubernatorial candidate forum in Grand Junction.

The state treasurer pulled about 45 percent of the vote in a field that included former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and businessmen Victor Mitchell and Doug Robinson, although it was former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez who ran second in the results.

The forum was sponsored by the Mesa County Republicans. The local ABC affiliate KJCT was on the scene.

Out of 78 votes cast in the non-binding straw poll, Stapleton got 35, followed by Lopez with 16, Tancredo with 9, Mitchell with 8, Robinson with 5, Coffman with 3 and Steve Barlock, who helped run Donald Trump’s campaign in Denver two years ago, bringing up the rear with 2 votes.

It was the first forum and straw poll to draw the participation of all the major candidates since the lineup changed in early November — when Tancredo and Coffman jumped in the race and 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, who had been running for governor for much of the year, dropped out and declared he would run for Coffman’s current job of attorney general instead. Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III and activist Jim Rundberg are also running in the GOP primary.

“I’m so humbled by all of the support our campaign received and really enjoyed the opportunity we had to share our campaign’s vision for renewing and inspiring strength in Colorado,” Stapleton said in an email to supporters on Friday. (While he also claimed in the email that he “won the straw poll with a sweeping majority!” the liberal wags at Colorado Pols pointed out that he fell more than a few votes shy of any kind of majority and, instead, won with a plurality.)

Stapleton won a straw poll conducted at a Weld County forum in mid-November with about the same share of the vote. Coffman and Tancredo had just declared their candidacies before that forum, but Coffman didn’t attend and wasn’t included in the poll.

Precinct caucus are March 6, the first step in a process that will require candidates to get 30 percent of delegates to the state assembly, on April 14, to win a spot on the June 26 primary ballot. Candidates who are petitioning onto ballot have until March 20 to return 1,500 signatures from each of the state’s seven congressional districts.

Nine Democrats are also running for the office held by term-limited Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

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.