Colorado state Sen. Greg Brophy is just the latest Republican to enter the field of candidates vying to unseat Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper — but he says that he’s the only one who can muster the kind of broad-based statewide appeal that has been elusive for Republicans in recent years.
“I look at the field,” Brophy said in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation, “and I see good guys that are friends, but neither one of them has the experience that I have and I don’t think either one of them has the capacity to build that 51 percent coalition to win the statewide race.”
“I think I can do that,” he said.
Brophy will face off in a primary against former Rep. Tom Tancredo, the only other candidate to officially announce, and probably Scott Gessler, the secretary of state who is seriously considering a run.
Brophy said the recently completed legislative session, which was controlled by Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, compelled him to run, even though in December he and his wife discussed his getting out of politics.
But a slate of new laws that Brophy said “led the state to the left” convinced him to run.
“You look around and there isn’t anybody else that’s doing the job of standing up for limited government better than I was, “ he said, “so it became kind of obvious to me by the middle of March that I needed to run.”
A third-generation farmer who is working the same land that his grandmother homesteaded near the tiny town of Wray out near the Kansas border, Brody’s credentials with rural voters are strong. But he isn’t your typical Republican: He drives a Prius, and while in Denver during the legislative session, he runs his farming operation remotely using his smartphone and an iPad. And when he was younger, he traded in horseback riding for cycling — a sport that he calls his passion.
It’s those types of details — along with a legislative record in which he occasionally found common ground with Democrats — that he says will broaden his appeal beyond the GOP base.
“If we run a candidate who talks about opportunity, who has broad appeal to the independent voters along the Front Range, we’re going to win and we’re going to win actually fairly big,” he said. “But only if we run a new kind of candidate who has that broad appeal and not the same-old, same-old.”
The wind seems to be blowing in Republicans’ favor, with the Colorado governor’s race recently downgraded by Roll Call’s Rothenberg Political Report from “safe” for Democrats to “favorable.” The article cited two reasons: Recent poll numbers — which show Hickenlooper with a 47 percent job-approval rating — and the “decidedly left-of-center” agenda he enacted after the legislative session.
That Democrats’ agenda has had some serious ripple effects: As a result of their support for tough new guns that ban high-capacity magazines and require universal background checks, two Democratic state senators are facing recall elections — the first in the state’s history; and 55 of the state’s elected sheriffs are suing to overturn the laws.
And because of what Brophy and other Republicans have called a “war on rural Colorado” — which included an expensive doubling of the renewable energy mandate for rural electricity cooperatives — at least 10 counties seriously considered seceding from Colorado and form their own state.
Before Brophy entered the race, the Roll Call article cautioned that “Republicans still have a long way to go before putting this contest seriously into play.”
But local party officials are optimistic.
“Look at Hickenlooper and [Sen. Mark] Udall, who are around about 45 percent approval — and you have Hickenlooper who was at 60-plus just a few months ago — and it just shows … what they campaigned for and what they’re doing, the effect it’s had on voters,” said Chuck Poplstein, the executive director of the Colorado Republican Committee.
“That just shows how vulnerable they are,” he said in an interview with TheDC News Foundation. “These guys said one thing and then they got into office and look what they did. That’s going to be the main focus [of upcoming campaigns], saying, ‘You know, enough is enough.’”
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