Colorado’s ‘Honey Badger’ of state politics hopeful his record will earn him the GOP gubernatorial nomination
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.
More than any other candidate, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has been running on his record in his bid to represent the Republican Party in November’s gubernatorial election.
Born in Detroit, but raised in suburban Chicago, Gessler is a product of the Illinois public school system, attended Yale as an undergraduate, earned his juris doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School and later added an MBA while attending classes at night at Northwestern University.
After spending 16 years in the U.S. Army Reserves, Gessler relocated in 1997 to Colorado where he launched a private practice specializing in elections law and became well known in 2002 for fighting against gerrymandering in Colorado’s Senate and House of Representatives.
In 2011, Gessler ran for Secretary of State, unseating Democratic incumbent Bernie Buescher by close to 100,000 votes. Since taking office, Gessler has earned a reputation as the “Honey Badger of Colorado Politics” for his efforts to protect state elections and for modernizing what was once considered a “sleepy” government agency. During the 2012 presidential election, Colorado ranked third in voter turnout when the number of ballots cast dropped in other key battleground states.
Additionally, during each of his three years as Secretary of State, Gessler’s office has been recognized by the International Association of Commercial Administrators for improving customer service and for developing secure online lien filing system software. The Uniform Commercial Code filing system was recently purchased by Foster Moore International Ltd. and is now available for license to other states in the country. Colorado stands to benefit from the agreement to the tune of $1 million over the course of the next five years.
Last week, Gessler cited those accomplishments and others in his pitch to represent the Republican Party in the upcoming race for Colorado governor. Looking ahead to Tuesday’s Republican primary, Gessler said he and his opponents all are pushing the same message of cutting taxes, reducing regulatory burdens and limiting the size and control of government. The difference, Gessler said, is he’s the only one who’s done it.
“The Republican Party wants someone that will rally people to our banner, not repel them, and I think I have a really good record to run on,” Gessler said. “The state wants someone who is going to govern from a principled and successful approach, and the proof is in the pudding.
“As Secretary of State, I’ve cut fees, cut regulations and made a difference in this state. This is a government office that works and treats people and its customers with respect.”
Like his primary election opponents, Gessler said he jumped into the race because he doesn’t agree with the direction of Gov. John Hickenlooper, criticizing the incumbent Democrat for “talking like a moderate, but acting like a narrow partisan ideologue.” Gessler pointed to the 2013 session of the Colorado Legislature, saying that although it was the harshest and most divisive session in recent memory, Hickenlooper signed every bill that arrived on his desk.
Should he win Tuesday and go on to occupy the highest office in the state, Gessler pledged to bring the Western Slope and rural Colorado into the legislative process, just as he had done to improve services at the Secretary of State’s office.
“We don’t want Colorado to be known as a city-state revolving around Denver,” Gessler said. “What makes Colorado great is the entire state. Without a healthy Western Slope, we don’t have a healthy Denver and vice-a-versa.”
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