With a backdrop of military aircraft and heroic leadership as a setting, Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton on Wednesday announced a state legislator and former Navy Top Gun pilot, Rep. Lang Sias, as his running mate.
Stapleton announced his choice at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum in Denver Wednesday morning, honoring the pilot who still flies for Fed-Ex.
“Lang will help spread our message of economic opportunity across Colorado,” Stapleton told reporters at the morning press event. “He will help me implement our agenda for Colorado on day one.”
Sias said he and Stapleton are running for the same three reasons: They each have three children.
He then pivoted to campaign mode, assailing Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jared Polis’ platform on universal health care and renewable energy. Polis is a sitting U.S. representative, who has supported more regulation on oil and gas, with a campaign promise to move the state toward 100 percent renewable energy.
“Jared Polis would take us backward, killing off all the great energy jobs that we have worked so hard to create in this state, jobs we have created, by the way, while working very hard to protect our environment,” Sias said.
On health care, Polis supports a health care plan that ensures accessibility, but not a government-run single-payer program.
“Congressman Jared Polis wants to reach into the pockets of hard-working Coloradans,” Sias said. “He thinks the government should get more and you should get less. In Washington, he’s working to raise your taxes and repeal the tax cuts that have put more money in your pockets.
“And if he’s elected governor, he’ll do the same thing here in Colorado.”
He added, “And Jared Polis wants to turn your health care over to the government into a single-payer system. It’s single-payer, alright. You’ll be the payer through higher taxes and the quality of your care will decline. What a deal!”
Sias is a former Democrat who has clashed with the far-right base of his party in previous campaigns for Congress and state Senate.
Democrats cited what they deemed his “extreme record” of supporting a Republican platform on reproductive rights, energy, gay conversion therapy for minors. The state party characterized Sias as Stapleton’s “fellow Connecticut elitist” and a “three-time election loser.”
They linked Sias to Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“On Monday, Donald Trump unveiled a Supreme Court pick committed to taking away Americans’ health care and eliminating women’s health care rights,” state Democratic Party chair Morgan Carroll, a former state senator, said in a statement. “Today, Trump supporter Walker Stapleton followed suit, nominating a Lieutenant Governor candidate committed to taking away Coloradans’ health care and eliminating women’s health care rights. This out-of-touch ticket from Connecticut would be a disaster for Coloradans – especially the 2.3 million Coloradans with pre-existing conditions and women who don’t want to see their rights taken away by anti-choice crusaders.”
Democrats provided a statement from Marcia Kohler, a Colorado cancer survivor, along with her daughter Grace.
“Under the Stapleton-Sias agenda, I’ll probably lose my health care, and so will my daughter, and so will thousands of other Coloradans who have pre-existing conditions,” she stated. “That prospect is beyond terrifying – my daughter’s doctors said she should never go a single day without insurance.”
Stapleton said he interviewed other candidates but had been talking to Sias about the job for more than a month.
Sias is a former Democrat who switched parties in the early 2000s. He said 85 percent of the legislation he’s carried has been bipartisan.
He said he switched, because “I thought, probably foolishly, that the Democratic party had room for people with the views of, say, a John Kennedy. I found out, frankly, that was not the case.”
Sias completes the combatants among the major parties. A week after the June 26 primary, Polis picked former state Rep. Dianne Primavera of Broomfield to be his lieutenant governor.