FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) – Steve Laffey, a onetime Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Rhode Island, announced Tuesday he’s running for governor of Colorado.
Laffey is a former investment banker and mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island’s third-largest city. In 2006, he took on incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island’s Republican Senate primary with the backing of conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and lost. Chafee went on to lose in the general election to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. Chafee has since become an independent and is now governor of Rhode Island.
Laffey, who is married and has six children, moved to a ranch in Fort Collins, Colo., three years ago. He said in a phone interview Tuesday that he’s dismayed by changes he’s seen in Colorado since moving there. For example, he said the state’s legalization of marijuana is hurting the business climate. He also objects to efforts to increase gun control.
He also said Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has demonstrated a lack of leadership.
“I don’t really like politics very much but I do like fixing things, and Colorado now is something that needs fixing,” Laffey said.
Laffey becomes the first Republican to announce plans to challenge Hickenlooper. Other Republicans publicly expressing interest include Secretary of State Scott Gessler and former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo.
Hickenlooper cruised to victory in 2010 after the Republican side of the ticket imploded. Tea party favorite Dan Maes won the party nomination when a better-funded candidate, former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, was accused of plagiarism. Tancredo then declared Maes unelectable and briefly left the party to run as a third-party candidate.
Laffey now raises specialty Irish Gypsy horses and Dexter cows on his family’s ranch, which he says is the last remaining ranch within the city limits of Fort Collins. He wrote a 2007 book called “Primary Mistake” about his Senate campaign, and in 2012 wrote and produced a documentary, “Fixing America,” in which he and a crew traveled around the country speaking to people about the nation’s problems.
Laffey said he’s put a significant amount of his own money into his campaign, but he will have to raise more.
He said he looks forward to traveling around the state and campaigning.
“It’s a beautiful state,” he said. “The people here are great.”
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