BOULDER — When Walker Stapleton wakes up Sunday morning he will be one year older and a nominee for the Republican gubernatorial primary in June.
Stapleton who spent the week leading up to the State Republican Assembly riding a rollercoaster of emotions, joked after the results came in that he plans to celebrate his 44th birthday in his pajamas before hitting the campaign trail again on Monday.
With his three young children on stage, Stapleton held nothing back at Saturday’s event about the ups and downs of his campaign to date. His commitment to integrity won the day, taking top spot with 44 percent of the delegates, 1,116 votes.
Greg Lopez was the only other candidate in a crowded field of seven to find a spot on the June 24 primary ballot, with 826 votes or 33 percent. Victor Mitchell and Doug Robinson have petitioned onto the primary.
Candidates needed 30 percent or better to get a spot on the June 24 primary. Stapleton said after the assembly he would have been perfectly happy with 30.1 percent.
“It’s not just about my kids, it’s about all our kids,” Stapleton said. “The example we set as elected officials is more important than any decision we make.”
Stapleton added his decision to throw away thousands of signatures — both legal and questionable — that initially put him on the ballot, was not as hard as some may think.
“Retaining my integrity is more important to me than any title,” he said. “I have to look my kids in the eye. It was more important to show the public that I have integrity. I did not want to have a cloud over me.”
He now plans to focus his campaign on policy differences between the Republicans and Democrats and hopes the party can come together.
Jared Polis and Cary Kennedy both made the Democrat primary through their assembly process in Broomfield on Saturday. Mike Johnston chose to petition on. Polis also submitted petitions.
Just under 3,000 Colorado residents took eight hours to decide who will represent the Republican party in five statewide races in the June 24 primary.
The governor’s race was by far the most animated on the day.
Cynthia Coffman got a big boost in being nominated by Battle of Benghazi Marine Mark Geist. However, Coffman’s negative behavior toward Stapleton was too much to for delegates to overlook, in the end she managed just 5 percent of the vote.
First Coffman spent her allotted two minutes speaking in her current role as Attorney General attacking Stapleton — drawing boos from the audience. Then she slipped up during her nomination speech for Governor.
“We have spent the last 12 years with Republican governors creating too many regulations,” she said drawing more grumbles from the audience for the mistake.
Coffman’s frustration stemmed from Stapleton’s last-minute entry into the assembly.
Stapleton, who was originally nominated for the primary via the petitioning process, withdrew that nomination April 10 after learning that several of his circulators were not Colorado residents, a requirement under state law.
Stapleton announced he would seek the nomination though the assembly process, instead.
Coffman immediately sent a letter to the State GOP on April 11 claiming Stapleton missed the deadline to declare his intention to participate.
“The rules required a candidate who chose assembly to say so by April 2, 2018,” Coffman wrote. “Mr. Stapleton’s failure to follow the rules is not some technical problem. Accommodating him will mean rewriting the entire process the day before assembly. And it appears you intend to do so in secret.”
Coffman subsequently hired Denver-based attorney David Blake and challenged the Colorado GOP’s assertion that Stapleton was eligible to participate.
The Colorado GOP responded though its attorney Scott Gessler denying both Coffman’s claims.
“The fact that he started the petition process, or obtained signatures, or submitted a petition and withdrew it, does not change this conclusion,” Gessler said. “Even if the statute were to require a choice, as you assert, it only governs placement on the ballot. If nominated at the assembly, Mr. Stapleton will be placed on the election ballot through one method only — assembly.
“The document in which it appears is entitled “Proposed Rules. The Proposed Rules have not been adopted by the Central Committee, and therefore they have no force and effect.”
During his nomination speech, Stapleton said integrity has to be what elected officials live by.
“When I found out there were problems with my petitions, I knew there was only one thing I could do,” Stapleton said. “Integrity is something that you can’t get back. Integrity is what you will get from me. We are not elected to do what is easy, we are elected to do what is right.”
Considered an outsider with little chance to win, Lopez wowed the crowd with his speech, firing up a crowd that at times during the day showed little to no excitement.
Lopez promised he would never let Colorado become a sanctuary state; he would reallocate higher education money to trade classes in high school; protect small businesses from over regulation; and protect First and Second Amendment rights of all Coloradans.
He said his campaign needs to reach just l5 percent more Hispanics and unaffiliated voters to be successful. He said he is tired of being a blue/purple state and got the crowd to chant, “united we stand, divided we fall.”
“No dream is to big. No challenge is too great,” he said. “It is time for Republicans across the state to band together. If we don’t, we will lose Colorado.”
In other races:
State Treasurer — Only one nominee survived to advance to the primary: Current State House Rep. Justin Everett garnered 49 percent of the vote with 1253 votes of the 2,562 cast. Everett was nominated by an all-star cast of conservatives, including House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and U.S. Congressman Ken Buck. Other strong conservatives on stage with Everett were Representatives Lori Saine and Perry Buck as well as Sen. Tim Neville.
Everett said he would bring private-sector solutions to the office. He drew the loudest cheers when he said he was 100 percent prolife and 100 percent pro traditional marriage.
- “Even though it has nothing to do with the treasurer’s office, you need to know what my values are,” Everett said about his stance on abortion and marriage Current State Sen. Kevin Lundberg (18 percent — 457 votes) said he was the person to fix the Public Employees Retirement Account. “We cannot fix PERA without greater political will than we currently find in today’s split legislature.”
- Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn (12 percent — 316 votes) said she would keep businesses honest and make sure they never “short checked” their tax payments. One of her nominators Cody Rex Walker said voters should demand someone to Denver that won’t forget their rural roots. “Small town America raises great Americans.”
- Marine and attorney Brett Barkey (21 percent — 536) said he was a staunch Taxpayers Bill of Rights supporter, despite what campaign materials from his competitors said. He said he was running for selfless service and quoted his beliefs from America the Beautiful: “Who more than self their country served.”
Attorney General — The only person nominated for the position was George Brauchler, current District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District covers Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. Brauchler was unanimously nominated.
Secretary of State — The only person nominated for the position was current Secretary of State Wayne Williams. He was unanimously nominated.