DENVER – It’s been four years since Colorado politicians had a shot at a statewide office, and 2014 is the year that a dozen Republicans want to make their move.
Democrats already have their top candidates – U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper.
It won’t be long before Republican voters have to decide on their challengers. Precinct caucuses will be March 4, and the primary election – which ultimately determines the winner – is June 24.
Here’s a quick first look at the Republicans who want to make Udall a one-term senator:
Buck lost the country’s closest Senate race in 2010 and won a battle with cancer in 2013.
The Weld County district attorney announced in May that he is free of lymphoma, and he’s now ready for another shot at the Senate.
He is sticking with some of the same themes of his 2010 campaign, calling Udall a “rubber stamp” for Obama – the same label he applied to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet four years ago. He wants a lower deficit and an end to the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.”
An early poll shows him with a commanding lead in the GOP primary. Public Policy Polling found in December that 45 percent of Republicans polled support Buck, with the second-place candidate taking just 8 percent.
His wife, Perry, is a state representative. They have two adult children, a son and a daughter.
The state senator from Hot Sulphur Springs might have the most recognizable mustache in Colorado politics. A former Colorado Department of Transportation worker, Baumgardner says he would be a true rural voice in the Senate.
In the Legislature, he sponsored bills to promote methane gas capture from coal mines, reduce fines for late vehicle registrations and allow people to carry concealed guns without a permit. In 2011, he introduced an illegal immigration bill modeled on the Arizona law, which was called the strictest in the country. Baumgardner killed his own bill when courts struck down most of the Arizona law as unconstitutional.
Baumgardner defeated incumbent Sen. Jean White of Hayden in a Republican primary in 2012, where he cast himself as a tea party-style conservative and criticized White for her vote for same-sex civil unions. He is about to start his second year in the state Senate after serving four years in the state House.
The former state House majority leader was instrumental in the Republican takeover of the House in 2010, which lasted for two years until Democrats regained the majority.
Stephens also played a leading role in a chaotic end to the 2012 session, when Republicans shut down the House instead of letting a bill for civil unions come up for a vote.
Stephens picked up the endorsement of former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, who lost a bitter Republican primary to Buck in 2010.
In the Legislature, she sponsored bills to require school districts to post their finances online, repeal a tax on certain software and allow states to opt out of the Affordable Care Act. But, to the anger of some Republicans, she also joined with Democrats to pass the law that let Colorado set up an online health insurance marketplace.
Hill won election to the state Senate last year by beating out a veteran Republican legislator in the primary, where he argued the party needed new thinking. In his first session, he was one of just a few Republicans to vote for in-state tuition for children whose parents brought them into the country illegally. He also developed a reputation for making highbrow and sometimes lengthy speeches on controversial bills.
Hill sponsored unsuccessful bills to allow Coloradans to carry concealed weapons without a permit and to allow school employees to carry guns on campus.
A graduate of the Air Force Academy, Hill argues for a reduced U.S. military presence around the globe. “Our ability to make a difference where it counts depends on our ability to limit our international actions far more than we have in the past,” he says on his website.
Former Texas congressman Ron Paul has endorsed Hill.
Hill and his wife, Emily, are home schooling their four young children in Colorado Springs.
McMillan, a Durango financial adviser, is farthest from the right wing of all the candidates. A former Democrat and unaffiliated candidate for Congress, McMillan supports abortion rights, marijuana legalization and same-sex marriage, and he calls Obamacare “imperfect” but wants to fix it, not end it.
But, like other Republicans, McMillan aims to cut the federal deficit and opposes raising taxes.
Trujillo traces his family roots in the West back to Taos, N.M., in 1621, and he says his working-class upbringing in Colorado sets himself apart from the rest of the candidates.
Trujillo grew up in northeast Denver and Commerce City, served in the Marines, has worked in vegetable fields, loading docks and as a janitor. He spent most of his career in oil and gas and currently is a consultant for the industry.
“I believe I’m the one person who can actually relate to the voters out there,” he said.
He does not support the immigration bill that passed the U.S. Senate this year, and he plans to release his own proposal to the public soon, along with other points in his platform.
Trujillo is married with two daughters, one of whom attends Fort Lewis College.
Website: floydtrujilloforussenate.com. The site is scheduled to go online in mid-January.
Aspiri says if he is elected, he will not participate in the partisan warfare in Washington, D.C.
“Across the board from health care to gay marriage, immigration to our government’s role in our lives, this divisiveness must end,” he said in a news release.
Although he has not released a full platform yet, he says a major theme of his campaign will be “changing entitlement programs to empowerment programs.”
Aspiri grew up on Vashon Island near Seattle. He has 20 years of management experience, and he founded 3P Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes peace and prosperity. He is president of Generation Point LLC, an economic development firm.
Website: www.aspiri.com. There is no content yet on the site.