Colorado GOP a step closer to challenging Hickenlooper

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Greg Campbell Contributor
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Colorado Republicans are one step closer to finding the candidate who will take on Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in November.

Can the winner make the race against Hickenlooper competitive?

Former Colorado state Sen. Mike Kopp walked away with the top-line ballot spot inthe GOP primary for governor at the Republican state assembly Saturday, edging out Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who is in the No. 2 position.

Three other candidates, including Sen. Greg Brophy — a popular and outspoken critic of Hickenlooper — went home empty handed, failing to win the minimum 30 percent of the vote to appear on the primary ballot.

Kopp made off with 33.6 percent of the vote to Gessler’s 33.1 percent. Brophy garnered 18 percent.

Former congressman Tom Tancredo already qualified for the primary ballot by gathering the needed amount of signatures. Former Congressman Bob Beauprez is also gathering signatures, setting up a likely four-way race for the chance to challenge Hickenlooper for his seat in November.

Kopp’s by-a-nose first place finish came as something of a surprise over a second-place candidate with more name recognition, although Gessler — who fought a public battle over ethics violations that he eventually lost — hasn’t always been in the news for positive reasons.

Kopp is a former Army Ranger and “hot shot” firefighter who positions himself as a taxpayer watchdog. A former minority party leader from 2010-2011, he authored the bill allowing Colorado to opt-out of the Affordable Care Act, and he says on his campaign website that he draws his political inspiration from former President Ronald Reagan’s vision of American exceptionalism.

All the candidates who spoke at the assembly attacked Hickenlooper’s leadership and touted their own conservative principles, according to Denver’s Fox 31.

Even some Democrats were sad to see Brophy out of the running, according to Denver Post political reporter Lynn Bartels.

“It was clear at the Democrats annual Jefferson Jackson dinner Saturday night a lot of people who are registered D genuinely like the ‘gun-toting, bicycle-riding, Prius-driving farmer,’ as Brophy often introduced himself on the campaign trail,” Bartels wrote in a blog post.

In other races, Rep. Cory Gardner easily won the nomination to challenge Democrat Mark Udall for his Senate seat taking 73 percent of the vote to mustachioed state Sen. Randy Baumgardner’s 23 percent.

Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Coffman will face state Rep. Mark Waller in the primary for the attorney general’s race, though Coffman collected 69 percent of the vote to Waller’s just-over 30 percent.

El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, who dealt with a messy recall election against former Senate president John Morse last year, is the sole Republican candidate for Secretary of State.

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