Election 2018News

Stapleton, Lopez win spots in GOP gov primary

Author: Ernest Luning - April 14, 2018 - Updated: April 16, 2018

Former Parker mayor Greg Lopez addresses the 2018 Colorado Republican State Assembly while accepting his nomination for governor at the Coors Events Center on the campus of the University of Colorado Boulder in Boulder on April 14, 2018.
Photo by Andy Colwell for the Gazette

BOULDER — State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and businessman Greg Lopez, a former mayor of Parker, won spots in Colorado’s Republican gubernatorial primary Saturday at the GOP’s state assembly.

Stapleton took top line on the June primary ballot, with 44 percent of the delegate vote — just four days after asking state officials to reject petitions that had already qualified him for the primary, citing concerns that some of his signatures had been gathered fraudulently.

“I am a common sense Colorado conservative who wants to be your next governor,” Stapleton said to the thousands of Republicans inside the Coors Event Center on the University of Colorado campus.

Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton addresses the 2018 Colorado Republican State Assembly while accepting his nomination for governor at the Coors Events Center on the campus of the University of Colorado Boulder in Boulder on April 14. (Photo by Andy Colwell for Colorado Politics)

Lopez received 33 percent of the vote — more than the 30 percent needed to qualify for the ballot.

But Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, one of five other Republicans asking delegates for votes, received just 5 percent, keeping her from the ballot — a stunning reversal from the state assembly four years ago in the same arena, when she took top line in the attorney general race with nearly 70 percent of the vote.

Coffman came under fire for positions on abortion and gay rights that conservatives called too liberal and others said were inconsistent.

Stapleton was nominated by former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, the front-runner in the gubernatorial race before withdrawing in late January, saying he hadn’t raised enough money.

Tancredo said he was supporting Stapleton, in part, because he wants to see liberals “running as fast as they can with their head in their hands looking for a safe space because they can’t handle what just happened to them” after the Republican wins the election in November.

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck also nominated Stapleton. “With his integrity, fiscal conservatism and Colorado values, Walker is ready to serve as the next leader of this state,” he said.

In a statement released by his campaign, Stapleton said: “In the past five days, our campaign has proven that we are able to confront unexpected challenges with integrity and emerge stronger than ever. I’m honored to have received such great support from the grassroots activists at today’s assembly and am committed to further uniting the party in the upcoming months so we can defeat radical liberal Jared Polis in November. It’s been a true honor to campaign with all of the candidates who will not be advancing forward after today’s vote. Our party is stronger thanks to their contributions, and I know they will continue to fight on behalf of our principles throughout this election.”

Barry Farah, a wealthy Colorado Springs businessman who jumped in the race less than a month ago, wound up with 13 percent.

Others who sought the gubernatorial nomination through the assembly were former Denver Trump campaign co-chair Steve Barlock; Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III; and Westcliffe resident Teri Kear.

Two Republicans are trying to get on the ballot by petition: businessmen Doug Robinson and Victor Mitchell. Their petitions are under review by state officials.

Down the turnpike in Broomfield, Democrats voted former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis onto their party’s primary ballot. Former state Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, had already qualified by petition, and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne’s petitions are being reviewed.

They’re all hoping to replace Gov. John Hickenlooper, a term-limited Democrat.

Republicans also designated candidates for the other statewide offices on the primary ballot.

In the only other contested race of the day, state treasurer candidate Justin Everett, a three-term lawmaker from Littleton, won a place in the primary and kept three others off the ballot. With 49 percent of the vote, Everett led 14th Judicial District Attorney Brett Barkey, who had 21 percent, state Sen. Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud, who had 18 percent, and Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn, who trailed with 12 percent.

Everett could face two primary rivals who are awaiting word on their petitions: state Rep. Polly Lawrence, R-Roxborough Park, and real estate executive Brian Watson.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams won the nomination for a second term without opposition.

Republicans nominated George Brauchler, the 18th Judicial District attorney, for attorney general, and corporate executive Ken Montera for an at-large seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents.

Only 2,951 delegates showed up out of a little more than 4,000 elected by Republicans at county assemblies in March.

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.