Would-be GOP governors face off

All but one in Republican field appear on TV show

CENTENNIAL – Colorado Republicans got a first look at their top-four candidates for governor Wednesday in an hour-long television taping that didn’t turn feisty until the final seconds.

The quartet – state Sen. Greg Brophy, former congressman Tom Tancredo, Secretary of State Scott Gessler and former state Sen. Mike Kopp – sang in harmony when the topic was Gov. John Hickenlooper.

He has “failed,” Brophy said. He “stands for decline,” Gessler said. He “takes cues from the East Coast,” Kopp said. He has “done to Colorado what Obama has done to the nation,” Tancredo said.

The taping of “The Aaron Harber Show” was the first joint appearance by the major Republican candidates for governor. Adams County GOP Chairman Steve House entered the race last weekend and was not at Wednesday’s forum. GOP voters will choose one candidate at the party primary in June.

The four were especially hard on Hickenlooper’s decision to delay indefinitely the execution of Nathan Dunlap, who murdered four people in an Aurora pizza parlor. All four said Colorado’s death penalty does not need to be changed, although Brophy said it takes too long to carry out.

They also decried the gun bills Hickenlooper signed, which require background checks for private-party sales and limit the size of ammunition magazines. Brophy and Kopp said enforcing current laws will help curb gun violence, while Gessler said the state needs to stop warehousing the mentally ill in prisons.

Tancredo wants more people to carry guns and learn how to use them.

“The reality is, an armed citizenry is a safer citizenry,” Tancredo said.

Tancredo, who split the GOP vote in 2010 by running for governor on the American Constitution Party ticket, wants all the candidates to sign a pledge to verbally attack only Hickenlooper, not each other. Kopp and Gessler said they would be civil, but they stopped short of signing the pledge.

Brophy, given the last word, fired the debate’s first shot.

“If the congressman wants an easy path to the nomination, he might go talk to the American Constitution Party about that,” Brophy said.

jhanel@durangoherald.com

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