Stapleton, Coffman attend Republican Governors Association training, networking meeting

Author: Ernest Luning - August 15, 2017 - Updated: August 16, 2017

Colorado's Capitol dome gleams in the sunlight in this picture taken on Opening Day of the Legislature, Jan. 13, 2016. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)Colorado’s Capitol dome gleams in the sunlight in this picture taken on Opening Day of the Legislature, Jan. 13, 2016. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics file)

Colorado was well represented at a Republican Governors Association event in Nashville last week, with several leading potential and announced candidates for next year’s election in attendance.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman joined declared candidates George Brauchler, Doug Robinson and Victor Mitchell for the two-day meeting, which featured campaign training and the chance for candidates to meet with donors and conservative groups.

Stapleton is widely assumed to be planning a campaign for governor next year — he’s been helping a super PAC-style independent expenditure committee raise money — but Coffman’s intentions have been less clear. While she’s said she’s considering a run for governor, she’s also been raising money for a reelection bid as attorney general.

According to participants at the event, Coffman and Robinson, a former investment banker, had their hands in the air with questions and seemed most avid to soak up all the advice on messaging, fundraising and other campaign essentials.

Other declared candidates for the GOP nomination in Colorado include prominent Trump supporter Steve Barlock, Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez and activist Jim Rundberg. Former CSU Athletic Director Jack Graham, who came in second in a primary for a U.S. Senate seat last year, has also said he’s considering a run in 2018, when Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper will be term-limited.

The RGA has two more training and networking meetings scheduled this year — a September event in Chicago and a November event in Austin, Texas.

The RGA, chaired by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, helps elect Republican governors, and it’s been on a run lately. With West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice switching parties from Democratic to Republican earlier this month, Republicans count 34 governors, the most in history. There are two gubernatorial elections this year — in Virginia and New Jersey — and 36 next year, when Republicans will attempt to take over in Colorado following three successive Democratic terms.

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.