Kopp: People have to ‘push back’

As governor, former state senator would lead a range of changes

Former state Sen. Mike Kopp says his relentless focus on what he stands for makes him the most qualified Republican to take on Gov. John Hickenlooper next year.

“I would empower people, not government,” Kopp said in a Wednesday morning interview at The Durango Herald. “We need a leader who will push back.

“My leadership will resonate with Coloradans,” said Kopp, who represented southern Jefferson County as senator.

But Kopp first must catch the eye of voters when he, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo and state Sen. Greg Brophy – and possibly others – meet in the primary next June.

Kopp, who was Senate minority leader while in the Legislature from 2007 to 2011, resigned after his wife died from cancer. Previously, he served in the 82nd Airborne Division, was in the Gulf War and worked for the U.S. Border Patrol. He currently works for Intermountain Rural Electric Association.

Kopp said legislation that Hickenlooper signed requiring rural electric cooperatives to increase from 10 to 20 percent by 2020 the amount of electricity they get from renewable sources is counterproductive.

“It’s going to raise costs,” Kopp said. “We don’t need government between us and our thermostat.

“We should end the energy war, not favor one source over another,” he said. “Let’s let technology and price guide policy.”

As a former hot-shot firefighter, Kopp is familiar with wildfires. He said he would pursue measures as governor to head off wildfires before they begin.

“It costs less to mitigate than suppress,” he said. “As governor, I’d relentlessly hit the federal government to manage its forests better.”

As for constitutional Amendment 66, which would raise income taxes to secure $1 billion a year for education, Kopp said, “I’m voting ‘no!’”

The proposed amendment would increase the tax burden by as much as 27 percent for some families, he said.

He fears the new revenue would not end up in the coffers of education but find its way to other costly government programs.

There are 200,000 Coloradans out of work, Kopp said. They don’t need the pressure of an added tax burden.

Kopp would like to undo the gun-control laws signed by Hickenlooper that limit magazines to 15 rounds and require a background check for firearm purchases, even in private transactions.

“People need to be able to protect themselves,” Kopp said. “You shouldn’t have to hope to find a place to hide if you’re attacked.”

Kopp wouldn’t compare himself with the other Republicans who want to be Hickenlooper’s opponent next year.

“We all come from different places.” Kopp said. “My place has been public service and leadership.”

He cited successes as a state senator. Among the accomplishments he touted: a $10 million tax cut for businesses paying into the workers compensation fund; and closing a loophole in immigration law that made it impossible to prosecute for a first offense an undocumented alien who jumped bond but was apprehended again.

Kopp was in Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Pueblo on Tuesday. On leaving Durango, he was headed for Delta, Montrose and Grand Junction.


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