Mike Kopp focused on empowering people going into Tuesday’s GOP gubernatorial primary
June 24, 2014
On Tuesday, June 24, Summit County Republicans who have not yet cast their ballot will join party members from around the state at the polls to determine who will be the GOP candidate for governor.
The Republican governor's campaign is the only contested race on the Summit County primary ballot.
Last week the four candidates spoke with the Summit Daily News about their platforms, the message going into the final days of the race, their opponents and their strategy to down incumbent Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper in November and begin repairing the perceived divide between rural and urban Coloradans following the 2013 session of the Colorado State Legislature.
“We probably have well over 200,000 people out of work and until those numbers are fixed, the governor probably shouldn’t be sleeping very much.”
Mike Kopp may be the underdog in the GOP gubernatorial primary in terms of campaign fundraising, but the former minority leader in the Colorado Senate said last week he's in a well known and comfortable position going into Tuesday's election.
Kopp, of Golden, said he's twice been the underdog candidate, but that didn't stop him in 2006 and 2010 from winning his bids to represent Colorado's Senate District 22.
"We thought all along we'd be the outspent underdog in the race, but that's a position I've been in before in the state Senate," Kopp said. "I've always been a grassroots candidate and we're really pleased with the enthusiasm and the momentum we've seen as we get closer to the finish line."
The cornerstone of Kopp's campaign has all along been based on four key messages: rebuilding the economy and creating jobs, defending constitutional freedoms, and fighting what he called the big government trend coming out of Washington D.C. But at its core, Kopp said his campaign has been focused on empowering people.
"I think what the Republican Party needs and what the state needs is a governor who can advance conservative reforms for the state, not just veto bad bills," Kopp said. "That's easy, but the Democrats are going to have a bare majority in both houses and the governor is going to need to develop coalitions to pass conservative reforms. I think that's what sets me apart in this race."
Kopp said he's proven his ability to rally the support of members from both sides of the aisle, citing his 2009 passage of a $10 million tax cut and his writing in 2011 a bill that would have allowed Colorado to opt out of Obamacare. Although the latter ultimately died in the Colorado House, Kopp said it did create a roadmap for other states throughout the country to manage their own health care programs.
Being a Republican from Golden may have its disadvantages among voters in rural Colorado who still feel burned by gun control and renewable energy mandates, Kopp admitted. But Kopp thinks he shares the same values of rural Coloradans, saying he grew up as a bull rider in South Dakota and later enlisted in the military after high school, serving with the U.S. Army Rangers in the Gulf War.
He also recently announced longtime Pueblo Board of Water Works member Vera Ortegon as his running mate for lieutenant governor to bring in added expertise about another issue near and dear to Coloradans.
But, at the end of the day, Kopp said Tuesday's primary and the pending general election race for governor will come down to the economy and reuniting the state.
Kopp said he has a plan to boost the economy he thinks isn't rebounding fast enough called the "Blueprint for Leaner Government," which would reduce regulations in an effort to make Colorado a more attractive home for out-of-state businesses and create more jobs to put people back to work.
Kopp also has a plan for reuniting the state, saying he's identified six regions and plans to visit those regions on a monthly basis to talk with local residents.
"Fundamentally, our main focus needs to be on getting people back to work," Kopp said. "There's something unique about going to communities, sitting down with people face-to-face and listening to their plight.
"We probably have well over 200,000 people out of work and until those numbers are fixed, the governor probably shouldn't be sleeping very much."