Capitol Conversation: Colorado’s 2018 Governor’s Race Starts to Shape Up

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4min 24sec

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is term limited and the race to succeed him in 2018 is already underway. Some big names have recently announced their campaigns and much earlier than usual. The moves could impact one of the biggest agenda items still facing lawmakers during this year's legislative session – transportation funding.

Ed Sealover, a reporter for The Denver Business Journal, and Peter Marcus, with, spoke to Bente Birkeland about the race.

On the big names already in the race for Governor in 2018:

Marcus: All of the rumored candidates who everybody had been talking about for months, if not a year or more, are starting to come out of the woodwork and actually announce. The biggest is George Brauchler on the Republican side, the Arapahoe County district attorney who was the lead prosecutor in the James Holmes Aurora shooter case. Then we have Ed Perlmutter on the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. for the seventh (congressional district). And Kerry Kennedy, a former state treasurer, is also going to jump in on the Democratic side.

On why the next open seat Governor's race will get a lot of attention and could be close:

Sealover: I think Republicans are salivating at the opportunity. They had a couple of missed opportunities in recent years. In 2010 they nominated Dan Maes, possibly the worst candidate the Republicans have ever put up. In 2014, they lost a close one with (former congressman) Bob Beauprez. Hickenlooper was very successfully able to generate support from business owners who are crucial to Republicans winning most statewide elections, and moderates.

On how the Governor's race could impact a proposed sales tax increase for roads that lawmakers are debating whether to send to voters this fall:

Sealover: Assuming that the transportation tax hike can even get through the legislature to the voters in November, that will almost be a kind of proxy start of this race. I think you're going to see Democratic candidates come out for the tax hike and you'll see Republican candidates come out against it. And that will tell us a little bit about the mood the voters are in. This is not the normal start of the election cycle.

Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.