DENVER (AP) – Seven Republicans are vying for the right to challenge Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper this fall, including two former congressmen and the secretary of state.
But not all seven will make it to a primary vote in June.
Colorado Republicans will start whittling the list of nominees Saturday at their statewide assembly, held this year in Boulder.
WHO WON’T BE THERE
The candidates include former U.S. Reps. Bob Beauprez and Tom Tancredo. Both have powerful bases of support, but they’ve also both run unsuccessfully for governor in the past. So Beauprez and Tancredo are scrambling to convince fellow Republicans that they can take down Hickenlooper.
Both have submitted petitions to earn a place on ballots and won’t be participating Saturday.
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Tancredo’s petition already has been certified as sufficient to make June primary ballots, making him the first Republican with a guaranteed spot. Beauprez’s petition awaits certification from state elections officials, though his campaign appears certain to have met the threshold.
Tancredo and Beauprez supporters at the assembly could determine the remaining slate. Will they play it like a reality show, choosing rival candidates they perceive as weak? Or could they be genuinely persuaded to change their allegiance to one of the five assembly participants?
THE OTHER FIVE
Tancredo and Beauprez aren’t the only big names in the race.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler is among the five candidates seeking support from 4,150 assembly participants. Expect Gessler to point out that he’s the only candidate in the race who has won a statewide election.
Also making a case will be state Sen. Greg Brophy, the only candidate who’s not from the Denver area. Brophy led the legislative opposition to last year’s slate of gun-control measures signed into law by Hickenlooper.
Former Senate Republican Leader Mike Kopp of Jefferson County also is running.
Rounding out the Republican slate are two first-time candidates angling to be outsider alternatives – Steve House and Roni Bell Sylvester.
WHAT HAPPENS AT ASSEMBLY
The five candidates looking to make primary ballots through the state assembly will get a few minutes to make an argument, then the assembled delegates will vote.
It’s possible that as many as three of the five could win enough support to appear on ballots.
Expect lots of jockeying and shifting alliances on the assembly floor. The five gubernatorial candidates have spent months trying to get delegates in their corner, but no one knows how the delegates will vote until the ballots are cast.
NOT JUST GOVERNOR
The governor’s race is the most dynamic contest at the assembly. But it’s not the only one.
Republicans are also choosing primary ballot position for candidates for U.S. Senate, with the eventual winner going on to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. Colorado’s Senate race is getting more attention than any other contest in the state this year. But it’s not going to be close at the assembly. U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner is expected to trounce two lesser-known Republicans who have put up only nominal opposition.
Republicans are also choosing between two attorney general candidates. That’s a contest likely to be decided at the June 24 primary, with the winner seeking to replace retiring Republican Attorney General John Suthers.
The final two statewide races won’t be races at all at the assembly. Republican Treasurer Walker Stapleton has no challenger for his re-election bid, and El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams is the only Republican candidate seeking to succeed Gessler as secretary of state.
DEMOCRATS MEETING, TOO
While Republicans are hashing out their candidates, rival Democrats are having an assembly of their own Saturday in Denver.
But with the state’s top seats in Democratic hands, there’s no suspense at the head of the ballot. Hickenlooper and Udall have no primary opposition in their re-election bids.
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