Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler — a controversial Republican investigated for ethics violations and who is referred to as “the honey badger” by both friend and foe — has suspended his re-election campaign to start financing a run for governor.
Gessler told Denver’s 9News TV station that while he has formed a campaign committee — and filed a candidate affidavit that clearly states his intention to run — he is not ready to officially announce, saying he would spend the summer “making sure my issues are the right issues for the state of Colorado.”
He is being cautious and keeping an eye on who else might enter the race, he said, to avoid a contentious primary that might damage the Republican Party.
If Gessler enters the race, he’ll be vying for the GOP nomination against former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, who officially announced his candidacy last week.
Gessler has drawn criticism for his efforts to weed out ineligible voters from the state voter registry and for trying to prevent county clerks from mailing ballots to inactive voters. He was investigated for alleged misuse of state funds related to out-of-state travel, but recently repaid the $1,300 that was in dispute.
Gessler was christened “the honey badger” by a Denver alternative newspaper, after the comedic viral video demonstrating that the ferocious animals “don’t give a shit.” Gessler embraced the nickname, telling The Daily Caller News Foundation in February that it’s appropriate because “I actually do stand up and fight for stuff. I choose not to back down.”
Gessler, an elections lawyer, is two-and-a-half years into his first term as an elected official. While his name has been thrown around as a possible contender in the governor’s race, the suspension of his re-election campaign is the clearest signal yet that he’s serious about the idea. Candidates cannot raise money for two offices at once.
9News reported that Gessler has raised about $31,000 for his re-election bid. The funds can be transferred to a new committee for governor.
The eventual Republican nominee will face Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is expected to seek re-election in 2014.
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