GOP candidates kick off Colorado campaign season

Kelly Sloan, The Business Times

Greg Brophy
Mark Waller

The 2014 campaign season began in earnest in the Grand Valley with visits from two candidates seeking statewide offices.

Greg Brophy, a state representative from Wray running for the Republican nomination for governor, and Mark Waller, a state representative from Colorado Springs seeking the GOP nomination for attorney general, stopped in the Grand Valley to garner local support for their respective bids.

Brophy made a campaign stop at the Palisade farm owned by his brother, Brad. There, Greg Brophy outlined his vision for the state, including his concerns for business.

“My philosophy for business in Colorado is ‘first, do no harm,’” Brophy said in promising to focus on affordable energy, agriculture and the economy.

“We need to stop legislation that harms the development of energy. We already have the most stringent oil and gas rules in the nation, and that is enough.” Referring to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Brophy said, “We need to appoint people to these boards that favor development of our resources.”

Brophy acknowledged the abundance of federally owned public land in Western Colorado by lending his support to an idea he said was part of Mitt Romney’s energy platform in his bid for the presidency last year.

“I would advocate for state control and regulation of energy production on federal lands located within the state,” Brophy said. “Colorado knows best how to manage the lands and resources located within our borders.”

Brophy said his policies would be designed to promote growth. “Growth benefits everybody. For example, if an area has oil wells, that ultimately benefits tourism industry in the area by providing for new roads, more local jobs and added revenue.”

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo also has announced he will seek the GOP nomination to run against Gov. John Hickenlooper. Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler is also expected to announce a gubernatorial bid on the Republican ticket.

Waller spent two days in the Grand Junction area, making stops, visiting with local groups and holding meet-and-greet events.

Waller recently stepped down as House majority leader to campaign for state attorney general.

 Waller said the attorney general’s office can have profound effects on businesses. “The attorney general has a responsibility to weigh in on issues with the Legislature and to ensure that we have a fair judicial process in the state,” he said.

Waller cited as an example the enactment of House Bill 1136, a law that awards plaintiffs additional damages and court costs in discrimination lawsuits against businesses, even those with fewer than 15 employees. Waller dubbed the law the “Trial Lawyer Employment Act of 2013.”

“The AG is a duly elected public official. He or she is not only the top cop and top attorney for the state, but also represents his or her constituents,” Waller said. “The unique experience I bring is in fully understanding the legislative process, having been part of it. I can use that experience as attorney general.”

Waller said the attorney general also effects business by providing some oversight to the regulatory process. “The AG makes sure that agencies stay within their scope of authority.”

Waller also said John Suthers, the current attorney general, has done a good job at protecting business in Colorado, citing his efforts to join in a lawsuit against the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Suthers also has advised the governor on the consequences of certain state legislation. “As an advisor to the governor, the AG has had the opportunity and ability to try and help the governor understand the impact of legislation on business,” Waller said.

Looking ahead, Waller said the attorney general will deal with issues that will have substantial implications for business.The implementation of Amendment 64, the ballot measure passed last fall which legalizes marijuana for personal use, creates many questions for businesses.

“For example, many business owners are wondering how their zero-tolerance drug policies will be affected,” Waller said. “Also, there are issues of zoning. That is, where will marijuana businesses be located? These are critical, as-yet-unanswered questions that the attorney general’s office will play a key role in helping to answer.”

The attorney general will help craft regulations Waller said he hopes will offer stability to businesses. But it won’t be easy. “It is very complicated, so much so that we don’t even know all of the issues yet.”

So far, the only other person seeking the GOP nomination for attorney general is Cynthia Coffman, chief deputy attorney general and wife of U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman.