Cynthia Coffman says she won't participate in mud-slinging in Republican primary for governor

DENVER – Cynthia Coffman says she won’t participate in any mud-slinging in what is expected to be a hotly-contested Republican primary for Colorado’s governorship in 2018, despite suggestions from at least one of her opponents that it would be an “ugly race.”

“I don’t plan to participate in it if it happens. I don’t think it’s necessary, and I don’t think it’s what voters want to see candidates engage in,” Coffman told Denver7 Wednesday after announcing her candidacy.

Tom Tancredo, who is also seeking the Republican nomination for governor, told Denver7 last week when he announced his candidacy: “This is going to be the ugliest race I’ve ever run in, and I’ve run in some ugly races.”

Coffman, who is currently Colorado’s attorney general, joined an already-crowded field of Republicans seeking the office, not to mention the Democrats.

Tancredo announced last week, joining a field that includes State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, Doug Robinson and Victor Mitchell.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Jared Polis, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former state senator Michael Johnston, and former state treasurer Cary Kennedy, among others.

Despite the crowded field, Coffman says she believes she stands out among the masses.

“I think I have very good name ID…. I have won statewide. I have been through this process before, and I feel very confident that the support is there for me,” she said. “I think what’s important is I’ve been all around the state and made connections and friendships, and those are very important during an election—also when you’re trying to figure out the best solutions for problems in the state.”

She says she’s enjoyed “helping find solutions to problems” as attorney general, but sees the governor’s office as an opportunity to affect bigger changes.

“What I’ve realized is a lot of those things are policy-related, and it’s the governor who gets to make the major policy decisions and decide what the priorities of the state are,” she said. “I want to make sure nobody in the state is left behind, and I think the four corners of the state need some attention in this period of growth.”

She told Denver7 that most areas outside of the Front Range are still recovering from the recession, and that she believes that sometimes goes unnoticed.

“People need jobs. We need to get businesses to settle in other parts of the state. We need to do job training,” Coffman said. “So that’s a priority, and then getting our infrastructure caught up with our growth.”

She says her two decades of experience working in the Legislature, for the governor, and as attorney general gives her a “unique set” of abilities for the job.

“I know how the budget works, how the Legislature works, how to solve problems, and I think I’m the right person at this point in time for Colorado,” she said.

An old video of Coffman yelling “Go Trump!” was making its rounds online Wednesday after her announcement. President Donald Trump has successfully supported some candidates, but also supported Virginia governor candidate Ed Gillespie, who lost Tuesday to Democrat Ralph Northam.

When asked if she would accept a possible endorsement from the president, should she become the Republican nominee, Coffman said it was too early to speculate.

“I think we’re a long way from endorsements—especially now in, what are we, a 10-way primary?” she said. “I think we have to wait and see how things roll out. My focus is not on Washington, it’s on Colorado.”

But Denver7 noted that Washington has been inserting itself into state governor’s races, not necessarily always the other way around.

“You know, it may happen, and I’ll have those conversation with folks if that happens, but I have no indication that it will,” Coffman replied when pressed.

Tancredo told Denver7 last week he would accept help from Trump, or his former adviser Steve Bannon, who is also backing candidates of his own choice he says are anti-establishment. “Heck yes. Sure. I’m going to need all of the help I can get,” he said at the time.

Coffman, meanwhile, says she thinks she will be able to bring in unaffiliated voters—the largest voting population in Colorado—and Democrats to support her.

“One thing I’ve learned about Colorado voters is they’re very independent…. Folks tend to vote for a person rather than a party,” she said. “I trust that Colorado voters will be listening and watching, over the coming months, to the candidates.”

“I think I can distinguish myself as the person who’s best to be governor, and if I do that, I believe people will vote for me.”

Brauchler told Denver7 Wednesday after the interview with Coffman that he was considering running for the attorney general seat Coffman will vacate. Rep. Ken Buck has also floated the idea previously, though his spokesman told Denver7 Wednesday that Buck is running for re-election in the 4th Congressional District.

Coffman was also tight-lipped about who might be trying to succeed her.

"It will be interesting to see who comes out for attorney general," she said. "It's a great position and very important to the state, and I think we'll have very good candidates in our party."

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