Election 2018GovernorNews

More than 50 county commissioners endorse Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton

Author: Ernest Luning - March 5, 2018 - Updated: March 12, 2018

Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton (Gazette file photo)

County commissioners representing more than half of Colorado’s counties are endorsing Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton, his campaign said Monday.

The two-term state treasurer, one of 10 Republicans running to replace term-limited Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, unveiled the slate of 57 officials from 33 counties the day before voters are set to attend precinct caucuses.

“County commissioners work every day on behalf of their communities and deal with many of the unintended consequences of the disconnected legislation that is passed in Denver,” Stapleton said in a statement. “It is important and encouraging for us to earn the support of these elected officials who have a unique understanding of the issues facing local communities across our state.”

The commissioners supporting Stapleton — all Republicans except for three unaffiliated commissioners from Chaffee and Montezuma counties — cited his attention to local government and and rural Colorado, as well as Stapleton’s campaign last cycle against a ballot measure that would have established a single-payer health system in the state.

“Walker has brought the right perspective to the treasurer’s office,” said El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller, a former state lawmaker, in a statement. “He came in as a businessman and has never been afraid to take a bold stance on major issues affecting our state. He fought against the single-payer health care initiative and took down the largest tax increase in Colorado history.”

Another one of El Paso County’s five commissioners, Stan VanderWerf, is also backing Stapleton.

Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese said she’s convinced Stapleton understands the effects the governor’s office has on counties throughout the state.

“Walker has an acute awareness of the issues that arise when policies are implemented without consulting local communities,” she said in a statement. “Far too often, politicians in Denver pass laws without any consideration of what happens on the ground level. Walker’s commitment to rural Colorado is noticeable in the approach I have seen him take as treasurer, and I have faith he will continue that effort as our next governor.”

At the same time he announced the endorsements, Stapleton took a shot at one of the leading Democratic candidates for governor, five-term U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who unveiled a proposal a week ago to work with western states to establish a regional “universal, single-payer option” for health care coverage.

“Our campaign is putting together the grassroots organization necessary to win the primary and beat Congressman Polis in November,” Stapleton said in a statement. “Just last week, Congressman Polis recycled another bad Bernie Sanders idea of moving Colorado to a single-payer healthcare system, which would raise taxes, kill jobs and cripple Colorado families. The county commissioners supporting our campaign, alongside voters across Colorado, know that Congressman Polis’ plans would devastate communities across Colorado.”

Polis argued in an Aspen Times article that his plan was the best way to tackle health care challenges in rural Colorado, which has some of the highest insurance and provider costs in the country.

“I’m running for governor because it’s time for us to translate the core value that health care is a human right into public policy,” he wrote. “It’s not only the right thing to do, but the most cost-effective way to reform health care in the long-term.”

Along with two other Republicans running for governor — businessmen Victor Mitchell and Doug Robinson — Stapleton is petitioning onto the primary ballot, although by Monday morning, he was the only GOP gubernatorial candidates who had submitted signatures to election officials. Statewide candidates have until March 20 to deliver 10,500 valid signatures from fellow party members in order to qualify for the June 26 primary.

GOP candidates taking the caucus and assembly route — including Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez and former Trump campaign official Steve Barlock — will have to win the support of at least 30 percent of delegates to the party’s April 14 state assembly in Boulder, a process that starts at precinct caucuses Tuesday night.

In addition to Polis, six Democrats are running for governor, including Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, and businessman Noel Ginsburg.

Here’s the list of commissioners supporting Stapleton:

Darius Allen, Alamosa County
Nancy Sharpe, Arapahoe County
Jeff Baker, Arapahoe County
Spike Ausmus, Baca County
Rick Butler, Baca County
Pete Dawson, Baca County
Dave Potts (unaffiliated), Chaffee County
Rod Pelton, Cheyenne County
Patrick Ward, Cheyenne County
Frank Grant, Crowley County
Don Suppes, Delta County
Roger Partridge, Douglas County
Lora Thomas, Douglas County
Mark Waller, El Paso County
Stan VanderWerf, El Paso
Tim Payne, Fremont County
Dwayne McFall, Fremont County
John Martin, Garfield County
Tom Jankovsky, Garfield County
Mike Samson, Garfield County
Rich Cimino, Grand County
Merit Linke, Grand County
Phil Chamberland, Gunnison County
Cindy Dozier, Hinsdale County
Stan Whinnery, Hinsdale County
Jeff Benson, Jackson County
Libby Szabo, Jefferson County
Tina Francone, Jefferson County
Cindy Mcloud, Kiowa County
Brad Blake, La Plata County
Byron Pelton, Logan County
Rose Pugliese, Mesa County
Ramona Weber, Mineral County
Ray Beck, Moffat County
Don Cook, Moffat County
Frank Moe, Moffat County
Larry Don Suckla (unaffiliated), Montezuma County
Keenan Ertel (unaffiliated), Montezuma County
Glenn Davis, Montrose County
Roger Rash, Montrose County
Mark Arndt, Morgan County
Jim Baldwin, Otero County
Wendy Buxton-Andrade, Prowers County
Tom Grasmick, Prowers County
Shawn Bolton, Rio Blanco County
Jeff Rector, Rio Blanco County
Si Woodruff, Rio Blanco County
Karla Shriver, Rio Grande County
Gene Glover, Rio Grande County
Cari Hermacinski, Routt County
Norm Steen, Teller County
Marc Dettenrieder, Teller County
Lea Ann Laybourn, Washington County
Barbara Kirkmeyer, Weld County
Mike Freeman, Weld County
Juie Cozad, Weld County
Steve Moreno, Weld County

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.