Not since Gov. John David Vanderhoof left office in 1975 has Colorado had a Republican governor.
Greg Lopez, who earned a spot on the GOP gubernatorial primary ballot at the party’s assembly April 14, wants to break that streak and become Colorado’s first Latino governor.
But the Denver Post reported the former mayor of Parker, Colo., is going to have to deal with several problems from his past, including charges of domestic violence.
There was also a question about a Purple Heart medal seen in the background of a campaign commercial that focused on Lopez’s military service.
Lopez and his wife, Lisa, used a campaign commercial to answer the domestic violence charge.
“We were both charged, and we were both held accountable for our actions that night. But we did it together,” Lopez said in the ad.
“Over 24 years ago, that happened to us in our marriage,” said Lisa Lopez in the ad. “In a twist of irony, it made our marriage stronger. We learned a lot from it. We grew.”
As for the Purple Heart, Lopez said it belonged to the owner of the house where the campaign recorded the video for the ad.
“It’s not even my house,” Lopez said.
Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a Bush family relative, finished in first place in the April 14 Colorado GOP assembly vote for governor, followed by Lopez. Stapleton has a problem from the past, too. He has a drunk driving violation on his record.
“That issue was dealt with extensively when I first ran for office. I was in my early 20s — I made a mistake nearly 20 years ago, and I learned from it, and I’ve moved on,” Stapleton told the Denver Post. “It’s made me a better candidate, a better person and hopefully a better statewide elected official for the last seven years.”
That is a problem of the distant past, but a more immediate concern is charges of petition-signature collection fraud.
Stapleton, who called himself a “common-sense Colorado conservative,” admitted there were problems with the signatures. The petitions were withdrawn five days before the assembly. But Stapleton said it wasn’t his fault. He blamed a private company hired to collect the petition signatures.
Stapleton said he supports President Trump’s tax reform efforts. But Stapleton declined to say if he’d accept the president’s endorsement should he win the June 26 GOP primary vote.
“There’s a one-word answer of why I’m here today: integrity,” Stapleton said during his speech to the GOP assembly.
Lopez not only would support Trump’s endorsement, he has voiced support for Trump’s immigration policies including plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Lopez received 32 percent of the vote at the GOP assembly. Stapleton won 43 percent. Those results put both men on the June 26 primary ballot.
But there’s another way to get on the ballot in Colorado: collecting 1,500 valid petition signatures from their party’s voters in each of the state’s seven congressional districts.
That’s how the third Republican candidate, Victor Mitchell, a New York native and serial entrepreneur, made it on that June primary ballot. And that’s how one of Mitt Romney’s nephews, Doug Robinson, almost did not.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams ruled that although Robinson collected more than 11,000 signatures, the GOP candidate did not get enough party voters to sign his petitions in the 2nd Congressional District.
Robinson fell just 22 signatures short, but a judge ruled that there were enough issues with petition handwriting, etc., to allow Robinson on the ballot.
Like Stapleton, Robinson used a private company to gather petition signatures. In fact, it was Dustin Olson of the Signature Gathering Company who, while working for the Robinson campaign, said he heard the people collecting Stapleton’s campaign lying to voters.
Colorado’s primary ballots were finalized today for the June 26 deadline.
“Robinson turned in more than enough good signatures from eligible Colorado voters that weren’t counted, which is easily demonstrated, so he will definitely be on the ballot soon,” Olson said in an emailed statement. “Clearly, when the Secretary of State uses fraudulent signatures, which were rightfully withdrawn, to throw out good signatures of Colorado citizens, you know the petitioning process in Colorado is broken and needs to be reformed.”
Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is term-limited. Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis are all on the Democrats’ June primary ballot, running to replace Hickenlooper.