Republican gubernatorial candidate Barry Farah kicks off TV ad campaign ahead of state assembly – Colorado Politics

Republican gubernatorial candidate Barry Farah, a businessman and author, introduces himself in a 30-second TV ad that began airing in Colorado on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (Via Vimeo)



Colorado Politics reports on Barry’s TV ad buy ahead of the state assembly – Link here!

Republican gubernatorial candidate Barry Farah kicks off TV ad campaign ahead of state assembly

Author: Ernest Luning – April 10, 2018 – Updated: April 10, 2018

Republican Barry Farah is launching a brief, statewide TV and digital ad campaign Tuesday aimed at boosting his chances of landing a spot on the primary ballot at Saturday’s state GOP assembly, his campaign said.

Farah, a wealthy Colorado Springs businessman and author who joined the crowded primary field just three weeks ago, plans to air the ad nearly 300 times over a three-day period, a campaign spokesman told Colorado Politics.

“I’m running for governor to champion individual liberty for all Coloradans, so each of us can follow our own dreams without being overtaxed, over-regulated or over-controlled by those elected to serve us,” Farah says in the 30-second spot. “We don’t need a tax increase — we need better budget priorities.”

Compared to other gubernatorial candidates, including a couple who have already spent or reserved more than $1 million in airtime in the run-up to the June 26 primary, Farah won’t be spending much on the ad campaign — around $10,000, a Farah advisor says — but is confident he’ll be reaching the voters who can put him on the ballot.

“I’m in this race to win,” Farah said in a statement announcing the ad buy.

His campaign manager, Jefferson Thomas, said the ad was part of an ongoing campaign focused on Republican primary voters.

“We have nearly 300 spots statewide with an opening ad that reinforces the principled candidate many know Barry Farah to be,” Thomas said in a statement.  “We are looking for a positive outcome going into the state assembly on April 14 and are setting the stage for the primary with this initial buy.  The campaign will do what’s needed to be competitive.”

So far, the only Republicans running for governor who have spent heavily on advertising are candidates pursuing the ballot by petition and skipping the caucus and assembly process.

Victor Mitchell, a Douglas County entrepreneur and former state lawmaker, has been introducing himself to voters since the day before Farah got in the race with TV ads costing about $180,000 a week. Mitchell, who is pitching himself as a businessman and outsider, seeded his run a year ago with a $3 million check and is expected to spend more than $1 million on the ad campaign.

Along with State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and retired investment banker Doug Robinson, Mitchell has submitted petitions to qualify for the primary. Stapleton learned Friday he submitted enough signatures, while Robinson and Mitchell are awaiting completion of a review by state officials.

For the other seven candidates seeking the nomination through the GOP’s state assembly in Boulder — including Farah — it’ll take the support of at least 30 percent of the roughly 4,200 delegates to make the ballot. Farah’s chief rivals are likely to be Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, former Trump campaign organizer Steve Barlock and Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III.


Battle for the Ballot: Republican Spots Up for Grabs in Boulder – Colorado Politics

Then U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser and his family speak during the El Paso County GOP assembly in 2016. (Colorado Politics file photo)


“Barry Farah might scramble the equation at the state assembly,” says Colorado Politics – Link here!

Battle for the Ballot: Republican spots up for grabs in Boulder

Author: Ernest Luning – April 10, 2018 – Updated: 21 hours ago

Colorado Republicans are set to designate candidates to the statewide primary ballot at the GOP’s state assembly April 14 in Boulder, and party officials say delegates who recall meeting at the same venue four years ago can look forward to some major changes at this year’s gathering — including plenty of food and water, as well as nearly instant results.

But anyone who’s been to a few Republican state assemblies can also attest that the meeting at the Coors Events Center on the University of Colorado Boulder campus could yield some surprises.

At press time, the Republicans were only planning on deciding which candidates to place on the primary ballot for two statewide offices at the assembly — governor and state treasurer, although in both races, leading candidates are also pursuing the June 26 primary ballot by petition.

Three of the statewide races set to be nominated out of the assembly were uncontested as of April 6: Secretary of State Wayne Williams is seeking a second term, prosecutor George Brauchler is running for attorney general, and retired corporate executive Ken Montera is the lone candidate for University of Colorado regent at-large.

Republicans allow nominations from the floor — something made possible because the party isn’t using pre-printed ballots this year — but it’s considered unlikely those three candidates will face viable last-minute challenges.
In the governor’s race, it’s another story, with seven candidates so far lined up to ask delegates for support amid rumors an additional candidate or two might emerge at the assembly.

According to the math — it takes the support of 30 percent of delegates to land a primary spot — as many as three gubernatorial hopefuls could emerge from the assembly to join the same number who were awaiting word at press time whether they’ll qualify by petition.

Meanwhile, four candidates for state treasurer are vying for primary slots, while two others have submitted petitions and should know by later this month whether they’ve made it.

Because the Republicans won’t be voting with paper ballots the way they have at previous state assemblies but will instead be using hand-held clickers similar to remote-control devices, they should be able to view results in the contested races almost instantly.

The party has tested the system at central committee meetings, and Hays is enthusiastic about shaving the usual lengthy ballot-counting stretches from the schedule, though he notes they’ll have back-up paper ballots on hand in case the radio-controlled devices don’t work.

The process to elect 4,206 delegates and an equal number of alternates started at precinct caucuses March 6 and continued through the month at county assemblies across the state.

While the Democrats select delegates based on results of preference polls gaging support for candidates for the top statewide office, Republicans abandoned that practice several cycles ago, and so don’t have a firm indication who has the most support for governor in this year’s most hotly contested race.

It’s anybody’s guess how delegates might tilt for governor. Up until a couple of weeks ago, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman was the only prominent Republican in the field seeking to assembly path to the ballot.

But a late entry by wealthy Colorado Springs businessman and author Barry Farah, who said he got in the race because there wasn’t a credible, solidly conservative candidate in the mix, might have scrambled the equation.

Others seeking the nomination through assembly are Steve Barlock, who is playing up his role two years ago with the state Trump campaign; former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez; Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III; and two novice candidates, Teri Kear and Jim Rundberg, who have been campaigning quietly for the nomination.

Meanwhile, the gubernatorial candidates who are petitioning on are State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, wealthy entrepreneur and former state lawmaker Victor Mitchell and retired investment banker Doug Robinson, who is Mitt Romney’s nephew.

The field for state treasurer is less crowded but, observers say, no less up for grabs.

The candidates going through assembly are state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud; state Rep. Justin Everett, R-Littleton; Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn; and prosecutor Brett Barkey.

Petitioning onto the ballot for state treasurer are state Rep. Polly Lawrence, R-Roxborough Park; and Brian Watson, a real estate developer and former legislative candidate whose signatures were under review by state officials at press time.

In addition to helping pick the primary line-up, GOP delegates will be voting on the party’s platform planks, including a proposal urging Colorado to join the call for a so-called Article V convention to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

On the day before the state assembly in Boulder, several Republican congressional and other multi-county legislative district assemblies are scheduled at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, where the party is also throwing its annual Centennial Dinner fundraiser. This year’s keynote speaker is humorist and conservative scholar Dr. Thomas Krannawitter, known for his satirical take on national politics.

As for the promise of ample food and water at the Coors Events Center, Colorado Republican Party Chairman Jeff Hays said that will be a top concern, since both were in short supply the last time the party held its state assembly there in 2014.

At that gathering, Republicans sent former state Sen. Mike Kopp and then-Secretary of State Scott Gessler to the gubernatorial primary ballot, where they joined petitioning candidates Tom Tancredo and Bob Beauprez, both former congressmen. (Beauprez won the primary but lost in November to Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is term-limited this year.)

Ryan Call, then-state GOP chairman and a former head of CU Boulder’s chapter of College Republicans, poked fun during his remarks at their host city’s reputation as a liberal bastion. Asked whether he was prepping similar banter, Hays chuckled and demurred.

“People do make the jokes about the People’s Republic of Boulder,” Hays said. “We certainly have our ideological differences, but we’re honored to be in Boulder. And who knows, they might vote Republican sometime in the future.”


Candidate Stapleton dumps petitions, accuses signature-gathering firm of ‘misconduct’ – Colorado Politics

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a Republican candidate for governor of Colorado, addresses a state GOP meeting on Sept. 23, 2017, at Colorado’s Finest High School in Englewood. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)


Colorado Politics reports on Stapleton’s withdrawal from the petition process, and gathers comment from Barry – Link here!

Another candidate going through the GOP assembly, Colorado Springs businessman Barry Farah, said he looked forward to asking delegates for their votes. “What I have to share with the delegates at the assembly on Saturday will not change,” Farah said in a statement. “And, I imagine that more than one candidate will borrow my heartfelt conservative talking points. But delegates can see through that, and are aware that my executive leadership experience and commitment to founding principles are the real deal.”

Candidate Stapleton dumps petitions, accuses signature-gathering firm of ‘misconduct’

Authors: Ernest Luning, Mark Harden – April 10, 2018 – Updated: 5 minutes ago

In a startling turn in Colorado’s race for governor, Republican candidate Walker Stapleton said Tuesday he is withdrawing petitions that won him a spot on the June 26 primary ballot, accusing the firm that gathered signatures on his behalf of engaging in “fraudulent conduct” and lying about it to Stapleton’s campaign and state officials.

The Colorado secretary of state’s office certified April 6 that Stapleton’s campaign had gathered more than the 10,500 valid signatures needed to make the ballot.

But Tuesday, in a hastily called press conference, Stapleton told reporters he was backing away from the petitions submitted on his behalf and instead would try to qualify for the ballot by seeking support from GOP delegates at Saturday’s state party assembly in Boulder.

Stapleton, the state treasurer and presumed GOP front-runner in the governor’s race, will likely face seven other Republicans at the assembly, where it will take support from at least 30 percent of delegates to get on the ballot.

Two other GOP candidates, Doug Robinson and Victor Mitchell, have submitted petitions, which are still under review by election officials.

There was no immediate response to Stapleton’s accusations Tuesday from Dan Kennedy, who runs Colorado Springs-based Kennedy Enterprises, the company hired by Stapleton to conduct his petition drive.

Previously, Kennedy denied that his circulators did anything improper or against the law, telling Colorado Politics in an email: “[T]o the best of my knowledge, ALL of the petition circulators are Colorado residents. And ALL the signatures were gathered legally.”

It’s the latest chapter in a controversy over signature gathering on behalf on candidates in Colorado races — and whether the gatherers in some cases were legally qualified to circulate petitions.

Before Tuesday’s announcement, Stapleton had asked to intervene in a lawsuit filed last week seeking to remove U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn from the 5th Congressional District’s GOP primary ballot — a suit that alleges some signatures on Lamborn’s petitions placing him on the ballot were gathered improperly.

Lamborn and Stapleton both employed Kennedy Enterprises to gather signatures, potentially putting Stapleton’s petition at risk if a judge agreed with the lawsuit against Lamborn.

Five Republican voters had sued Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, alleging that several paid circulators hired by Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, didn’t satisfy legal residency requirements. That lawsuit was being heard Tuesday in Denver District Court.

But Stapleton’s attorneys switched course and withdrew their motion to get involved in the Lamborn lawsuit, just hours before the candidate made the announcement about his petitions.

In a strongly worded letter delivered to Williams asking that his petitions be rejected, Stapleton said his campaign learned Monday that allegations leveled last month by the Robinson campaign raising questions about a Stapleton circulator had merit.

Robinson and the head of a firm he hired to gather his petition signatures — Republican consultant Dustin Olson — charged that at least some of Stapleton’s signatures had been gathered by a Miami resident named Daniel Alejandro Velasquez, who admitted in a phone call recorded by Olson that he collected signatures without meeting legal requirements.

Until Stapleton’s announcement Tuesday, his campaign maintained there was nothing to the complaints about Velasquez, noting that Kennedy roundly denied anything improper had taken place and that Williams had said his office had found no evidence to back up the claims. But Stapleton switched course Tuesday, alleging Kennedy repeatedly lied about Velasquez’ involvement in the petition drive.

“Last night, my campaign learned that Kennedy Enterprises, LLC, the signature gathering firm we retained to conduct and manage our petition gathering process, engaged in fraudulent conduct when gathering signatures in support of my candidacy for Governor,” Stapleton wrote. “Specifically, Kennedy Enterprises employed a ‘trainee circulator’ by the name of Daniel Velasquez and allowed this individual to circulate petitions which were then executed by another circulator as though that circulator — and not Mr. Velasquez — had circulated them.”

“Kennedy Enterprises repeatedly lied to my campaign when we asked them about news reports alleging this conduct weeks ago. Until last night, Dan Kennedy and those working for him insisted that no such individual had ever worked for Kennedy Enterprises. Worse than lying to my campaign, they lied to your office when your office specifically asked about these news reports.”

In a statement to Colorado Politics, Robinson cheered Stapleton’s move but didn’t let him off the hook.

“I applaud Walker for doing the right thing and for withdrawing his petitions,” Robinson said.

He added: “However, this does not change the fact that this fraud was perpetrated right under Walker’s nose. This fraud was so egregious that my team uncovered it as part of the due diligence of our own operation. It strains credulity to believe that no one on Walker’s team was aware of these abuses before last night.”

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a gubernatorial candidate likely competing for delegate support with Stapleton at Saturday’s assembly, argued that Stapleton’s announcement demonstrates “he can’t be trusted to play by the rules.” She also swung at Kennedy and suggested Williams and the state GOP should refuse to allow Stapleton to shift course.

“Once again Walker Stapleton has shown his true colors,” Coffman said in a statement. “He’s proven to Colorado voters that he can’t be trusted to play by the rules. The truth is, Walker tried to avoid addressing Republican delegates and got tripped up in the execution of his own political strategy.

“A candidate shouldn’t be rewarded because he couldn’t buy his way onto the ballot. Walker is stuck with the consequences of his decisions and the Colorado State Party and the Secretary of State should not be in the business of picking winners and losers by manipulating the caucus and assembly process after the fact. We all knew the rules and presumably we all abided by them. If they allow Walker Stapleton to go through the Assembly now, they are violating their obligation to the delegates to have a fair and neutral process.”

Coffman continued: “Walker chose to hire a group of shady petitions gatherers with a notorious and sordid past. Now, in the 11th hour, he once again shows no respect for the rules, the party or Republican delegates. Now, it will be up to the delegates to decide who they trust to represent their interests in the primary elections.”

Another candidate going through the GOP assembly, Colorado Springs businessman Barry Farah, said he looked forward to asking delegates for their votes. “What I have to share with the delegates at the assembly on Saturday will not change,” Farah said in a statement. “And, I imagine that more than one candidate will borrow my heartfelt conservative talking points. But delegates can see through that, and are aware that my executive leadership experience and commitment to founding principles are the real deal.”

Farah’s campaign manager, Jefferson Thomas, took a shot at Stapleton’s petition problems.

“I see no logical reason to withdraw from a petition process that has been certified by the Secretary of State unless some very serious issue is in play,” Thomas said. “Barry would never spend $250,000 of anybody’s money without personally ensuring the process was managed professionally and handled legally.”

Colorado Democrats, meanwhile, described the situation as “an epic disaster for Stapleton” in a statement after his announcement.

“Walker Stapleton has been running a sleazy campaign since day one, and now we can add petition fraud to the list,” Eric Walker, Colorado Democratic Party spokesperson, said in the statement. “This is an embarrassing belly flop into the heart of campaign season. Stapleton knows he doesn’t have the support of the Republican base, and was terrified to go through the state assembly. Now he has no choice.”

For a congressional candidate, it takes 1,000 valid signatures from fellow party members to get on the ballot; for statewide candidates, including governor, it takes 10,500 — 1,500 from each of the state’s seven congressional districts.

According to the Colorado secretary of state’s office, Lamborn submitted 1,269 signatures that passed muster, while Stapleton submitted 11,325 valid signatures.

Michael Francisco, the Colorado Springs attorney representing the Republicans suing Lamborn, said investigators have determined that nearly 700 of Lamborn’s signatures were gathered by paid circulators who registered to vote in Colorado but “lack any real connection to Colorado” and don’t qualify as legal residents.

Using the same criteria, Francisco is alleging that more than 8,000 of Stapleton’s signatures were gathered by circulators whose claims of residency “don’t pass the smell test.”

In a statement issued last week, Lamborn said he was certain the lawsuit challenging his petitions lacked merit.

“This lawsuit will be dismissed soon. I have spoken to the company that gathered signatures and have been assured that all applicable laws and regulations have been followed. I look forward to continuing this spirited campaign,” he said.

The dispute revolves around a longstanding practice employed by petition-gathering firms of hiring temporary workers, many of whom travel from state to state working petition drives.


Candidate for Governor of Colorado, Barry Farah, Responds to Walker Stapleton’s Plan to Go Through the Assembly – Campaign Press Release


Candidate for Governor of Colorado, Barry Farah, Responds to Walker Stapleton’s Plan to Go Through the Assembly

(DENVER)–In view of reported challenges by non-residents gathering his campaign’s petition signatures, candidate Walker Stapleton announced today that he will now go through the Republican State Assembly in Colorado this Saturday in a last-ditch effort to secure a spot on the ballot.

Upon hearing the news, Barry Farah stated, “We’ve had great feedback from delegates who are very happy that I’ve jumped into this race. What I have to share with the delegates at the Assembly on Saturday will not change.”  Farah continued, “And, I imagine that more than one candidate will borrow my heartfelt conservative talking points. But delegates can see through that, and are aware that my executive leadership experience and commitment to founding principles are the real deal.”

Regarding Walker Stapleton’s reported petition issues, Campaign Manager Jefferson Thomas asserts, “I see no logical reason to withdraw from a petition process that has been certified by the Secretary of State unless some very serious issue is in play.”

Thomas also stated that, “Barry would never spend $250,000 of anybody’s money without personally ensuring the process was managed professionally and handled legally.”

For more information and the latest “News” on Barry Farah’s campaign for Governor of Colorado, visit barryforgovernor.com.


Barry Farah (Courtesy photo)

Our state must get back on track – in pursuit of ‘the Colorado way’ – Colorado Politics

Barry’s OpEd in Colorado Politics – “Our state must get back on track – in pursuit of ‘the Colorado way'” in Colorado Politics – Link here!

Our state must get back on track — in pursuit of ‘the Colorado way’

Author: Barry Farah – April 9, 2018 – Updated: 6 hours ago

I have a vision for Colorado – I want all Coloradans to be able to securely enjoy the blessings of freedom principles — principles rooted in the American Idea.

The American Idea evolved over millennia through people who had a quest for freedom. The highlights include the Magna Carta in the early 13th century, which established an opening for a shift in power away from one person to many. By the 17th century Holland pioneered private property rights and granted tolerance to people of different religious beliefs. Then, Holland boomed.

By the late 18th century the Colonies made a Declaration that encompassed the American Idea: that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not Government’s to dole out. They are granted by God. Government’s role is to protect them.

The American Idea is not based on a people group, a geography or language. It is more transcendent. It is the idea that you can govern your own life without unnecessary interference from government so that you can speak, worship and live freely. And, while encompassing the concept of private property, the pursuit of happiness is broader and richer. The spectacular results have come to be known as the American Dream.

A century after that famous Declaration, Colorado became a state. We had a few failed runs before we settled on our name and finalized our state constitution. We produced one of the longest constitutional documents in the country. It is possible that we over-compensated for certain things, but the concern was straightforward — we wanted to keep the government in check. We wanted to make sure no single person or political group had too much power. We wanted to remain free.

Colorado means things to us. It means rugged individualism. But, it also means being neighborly. I remember packing a flat tire from 10,000 feet into town (we had no spare). I was 17, had long mountain hair and a big honkin’ truck tire on my backpack. But, once I got to a paved road along the Rio Grande, the first local stopped to pick me up. This was between Creede and Lake City. I had built a log cabin with a buddy before college. The flat tire was one of many as we gathered logs the old-fashioned way. But the point is, people in that area even left their keys in the car to make sure a neighbor would be able to get help in an emergency.

That kind of thoughtfulness comes from the personal security of being self-governed; internalized virtue that leads to adding value to others with purpose. Government should do some things, but with humility and not beyond its bounds.

My concern is that we are losing the Colorado way. Big Government politicians seem more interested in stripping you of your God-given rights than protecting them. Establishment politicians seem to be more interested in cashing in on deals than governing from principle.

As your governor, I will be committed to protecting your pursuit of your own American Dream. I will govern from principles first, not political expediency. For example, I can appoint dozens of judges who esteem freedom; introduce humility to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and DORA with new appointments; bring accountability and transparency to CDOT and PERA. And, I can make sure redistricting is fair and not monopolized by Big Government politicians.

At this time in my life, it would be an honor to bring the skills I have cultivated over 30 years as an executive, a problem-solver and a principled negotiator to set the stage for Colorado to once again honor freedom principles. And, I deeply believe that is best for all Coloradans.

Front of the Colorado capital building

Cover Story: ‘Anybody’s ballgame’ — crowded ballots, wide-open primaries make for a wild governor’s race – Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics’s Cover Story reports the race for governor of Colorado is “anybody’s ballgame” – Link here!

Author: Ernest Luning – April 4, 2018 – Updated: 2 hours ago

DENVER — For the first time in 20 years, Colorado voters in both parties are faced this year with contested primaries for an open seat for governor. While the race to replace term-limited Gov. John Hickenlooper has been underway for more than a year and front-runners have emerged, the June primary ballot likely won’t be finalized until the end of April — just five weeks before mail ballots are delivered — and veteran strategists say the nominations are far from determined. “This time, I think it’s going to be a free for all,” said veteran political operative Dick Wadhams. “Anybody could win.” Colorado has been a consistently blue state in presidential elections for the past decade, but its voters have proven willing to elect Republicans at the state level — including voting twice for State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who by just about every measure is the leading GOP gubernatorial candidate. But several well-funded and well-known Republicans are also running, and the party’s primary voters have been known to throw curve balls in recent elections — picking neophyte tea partier Dan Maes for governor in 2010 and handing the U.S. Senate nomination to underdog Darryl Glenn in 2016. The other leading Republicans in the race are Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and wealthy businessmen Victor Mitchell, Doug Robinson and Barry Farah; the latter jumped in the race just two weeks ago. Several others, including former Trump campaign official Steve Barlock, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez and Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III, are planning to compete with Coffman and Farah at the state assembly in Boulder on April 14, where it’ll take the support of 30 percent of delegates to make it onto the ballot. Stapleton, Robinson and Mitchell have all turned in petitions to get on the ballot, and the secretary of state’s office is in the process of verifying their signatures. It could be close to the April 27 deadline before the primary line-up is certified, officials have said. On the Democratic side, two candidates who have both been elected once statewide appear to be at the front of the pack — U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, the 2nd District congressman and internet millionaire who won a seat on the state Board of Education in 2000, and former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, who won in 2006 but lost her 2010 re-election bid to Stapleton. Kennedy scored a win in precinct caucuses earlier this month and appears to be on track to emerge from the April 14 state assembly with top-line designation on the ballot. Polis, who is competing with her in the state assembly and is awaiting verification of his petitions, has held the lead in recent polling and is poised to pour millions of dollars into his campaign. Former state Sen. Mike Johnston is the only candidate to be guaranteed a spot on either party’s primary ballot so far — his petitions were approved a couple of weeks ago — and he has held a slight lead in fundraising since last year. He’ll also benefit from an independent expenditure committee that got a $1 million infusion from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, meanwhile, is petitioning onto the ballot.
• • •
The difficulty for Republicans will be to win the primary vote while maintaining an appeal to Colorado’s evenly divided electorate, strategists say, particularly in a year that promises to be dominated by President Donald Trump. GOP primary voters, polling shows, overwhelmingly support Trump and say immigration is their top concern in a state where Hispanic voters are the fastest-growing bloc of voters, and Democrats and unaffiliated voters have soured on the president. Democrats could have their own challenge not to hew too far to the left amid what’s shaping up to be record levels of voter enthusiasm fueled by anti-Trump sentiment. The Democrats aren’t used to a crowded primary, either. It’s been eight years since the party has had a top-of-the-ticket, statewide primary — when former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff lost a bid to oust U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet — and it’s been generations since Democrats have had to choose between more than two primary candidates for governor. This year’s primary includes another level of uncertainty, as unaffiliated voters are set to receive primary ballots from both parties for the first time. For candidates who can afford it — and that could be most of them, according to record-setting fundraising by campaigns and outside groups — the unaffiliated voters could amount to enough votes to make the difference in crowded primaries, where a swing of a few points could spell victory. Wadhams, a former state GOP chairman, knows what it takes to elect a Republican governor of Colorado. He managed the 1998 campaign of then-State Treasurer Bill Owens, the only Republican to win the office in the last 48 years. “With the departure of Tom Tancredo, we are left with a field where any one of these (GOP) candidates currently running could wage a successful campaign for governor in November,” Wadhams said. Tancredo, the anti-immigration firebrand and former congressman, had been the Republican front-runner but ended his campaign in January, citing insufficient fundraising. None of the Republican in the field, Wadhams said, have yet “met the standard” established 20 years ago by Owens — a solidly conservative but nonetheless mainstream candidate — but he added that there’s still plenty of time. “That’s the good thing about a primary — it makes the candidates better. It makes them sharpen their messages, sharpen their agendas,” he said. “I don’t think any candidate in our field has really defined a clear agenda that can take them through the primary into the general. They all talk about the right issues — transportation, health care, big spending — but I haven’t seen the specificity. Voters want to know, what are you going to do for me?” Wadhams cautioned against drawing too much inspiration from Glenn’s U.S. Senate campaign, when he staked out the most aggressively conservative position and emerged from a five-candidate field. (Wadhams managed the campaign of 2016’s second-place Republican finisher, Jack Graham.) “You can’t throw a lot of red meat out there to win the primary and think you can dive back to the middle for the general election — you’ve got to define the sweet spot,” he said. “The challenge for Republicans is not only to talk about an issue like sanctuary cities — it’s potentially a good issue, there’s increasing concern on the impact they’re having on public safety — but a Republican has to be able to convey concern about the Hispanic community. If Republicans fall into the trap of using rhetoric and issues that alienate Hispanic voters, it makes it hard to win a general election.”
• • •
A veteran Democratic strategist agreed, although he suggested the Republicans’ focus on immigration could be more perilous than Wadhams imagines. “Making the so-called ‘sanctuary city’ issue central really translates into beating up on immigrants, and I think it’s a poor way to look at running in the fall,” said Alan Salazar, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s chief of staff and the former chief strategy officer for Hickenlooper. “Voters are going to be worried about quality of life, sustainability, health care, education, investment for the future,” he said. “All these things are lining up to be key issues for Democrats. If Republicans line up with Trump on immigration, not only will they alienate the largest growing group of voters in the state, but they’ll (also) isolate themselves as the party that doesn’t solve problems, that stays in a right-wing box.” Salazar said the Democratic field is so hotly contested because the state’s political climate — “the Trump effect” — means the winner of the Democratic primary is the odds-on favorite to be the next governor. Each of the Democrats bring strengths to the race, he said, including Polis’ statewide profile and the money he can put into the race, Johnston’s reputation as an innovative and charismatic politician who can appeal outside the party’s traditional voters, Lynne’s attractiveness to unaffiliated voters and Kennedy’s strength with the party’s base, as demonstrated by her performance in caucuses and county assemblies. “Another thing — never discount this — is that voters do still react to personality and likability and trustworthiness and the overall biographical narrative of people,” Salazar added. “There’s a tendency to look at who has the most money. Sure, money’s important, but people get their information different ways these days. I think people gravitate to leadership qualities.” Ian Silverii, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, said it’s too early to draw conclusions about the Democratic field with a month to go before the June 26 ballot is even set. “This is still very much a developing race, because there isn’t a consultant in the world who knows which (way) unaffiliateds, who participate in the first primary they’ve been able to vote in, will vote — either which party or which candidate,” Silverii said. “Any candidate who has enough resources to communicate and can break through the noise and clutter with solid, creative ads and a compelling narrative can win this thing. The Democratic nomination for governor is still anyone’s ballgame.” As for the leading Republican candidates, Wadhams said it’s fair to say Stapleton has replaced Tancredo as the front-runner, but the primary is still up for grabs. He sketched out pathways to victory for four other candidates, along with cautioning that crowded ballots can yield surprising results with the vote splitting in unpredictable ways. Mitchell, who seeded his campaign with $3 million of his own money, is spending at least $1.5 million in advertising before the primary, while Coffman, “despite the curious nature of her campaign” — she just unveiled her campaign team last week, and her fundraising has lagged the other leading candidates’ — has been elected statewide and has one of the state’s best-known political names. “People also say Doug Robinson is the most likable candidate in the field, which, by the way, is a very important commodity for a candidate. If Doug can harness that perception, he could definitely be in this thing,” Wadhams added. Farah, a first-time candidate with ties to the Koch brothers conservative network, got in at the last minute to take advantage of what he described as an opening for an unabashed conservative at assembly. He could shake things up further if he makes the ballot, Wadhams said. “That would be a huge achievement. It would really thrust him into the race in a big way.”
• • •
Rory McShane, a national GOP campaign operative who managed then-Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s Republican run for governor in 2014, has watched the Colorado race closely from afar this season. The competitive Republican primary, he fears, will take a big toll on the eventual winner. He said Tancredo did the right thing by dropping out, because while it’s fun to win a primary, it’s hard to pivot to a high-priced general election with a relative empty wallet. “In 2014, we saw the same thing as Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo, Bob Beauprez and Mike Kopp battled it out, but at the time the opening ante for a credible campaign was about $400,000 – a daunting task with $1,100 campaign finance limitations,” McShane said, describing the last Republican gubernatorial primary. “Not surprisingly, Beauprez, who partially self-funded, emerged victorious in the primary. He walked into the general both resource- and attention-starved,” he said. Beauprez had to scramble for cash and ultimately loan money to his campaign to compete against the incumbent, Hickenlooper, who faced no primary opposition and had been stockpiling campaign cash for years. Money will be a key player from now until November, against outside donors and campaigns’ direct fundraising by well-known candidates with moneyed ties, he said. “We could face the same fate as 2014, only spending much, much more to do it.”

Barry Farah on Running for Governor as a Heartfelt Conservative – Westword

Check out Barry’s in-depth interview with Westword – Link here!

Barry Farah on Running for Colorado Governor as a Heartfelt Conservative

Barry Farah, a successful entrepreneur, author and speaker, is a late entrant into the 2018 Republican race for governor of Colorado. In the following in-depth interview, Farah says the exit from the contest of former Congressman Tom Tancredo and 18th Judicial District DA George Brauchler (who’s now focusing on a bid for Colorado attorney general) left voters without a heartfelt conservative to support, and he’s eager to fill that role.

There is no shortage of prominent challengers for the governor’s office, as is seen by the list of Q&As with hopefuls that Westword has published to date. On the Republican side, we’ve spoken to businessman (and nephew of Mitt Romney) Doug Robinson, entrepreneur and former state legislator Victor Mitchell and 2016 Denver for Trump co-chair Steve Barlock, in addition to Tancredo and Brauchler. We are also working hard to exchange questions and answers with State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

On the Democratic side, candidates/interview subjects include former state senator Mike Johnston, onetime Colorado treasurer Cary Kennedy, Congressman Jared Polis and ex-Republican-turned-Dem Erik Underwood, as well as businessman Noel Ginsburg, who dropped out of the competition last month, and Representative Ed Perlmutter, now focusing on a re-election effort in the 7th Congressional District.

Farah has started several successful businesses, including Master Solutions, which developed software used in military satellites, and Precocity, specializing in customer-satisfaction strategy. He’s also the author of two books, 1998’s Customer Success and 2017’s The Magic Wand: Creating Exceptional Customer Experience — A Leadership Fable, that offer solutions he believes will translate to the governorship, as well as a longtime speaker on conservative principles and theory shared by his wife, Tamra. She’s best known locally as a spokesperson for Colorado’s wing of Americans for Prosperity, an organization closely affiliated with two of the nation’s most powerful funders of conservative causes, the Koch brothers.

In addition, Farah confirms that he’s been a donor for another Koch brothers-related project, Freedom Partners. And while these organizations are frequently bashed by progressives, he speaks about them both with pride — and while he balks at being portrayed as the Koch candidate for Colorado governor, he makes it clear he wouldn’t turn down financial assistance from folks he’s met in such circles.

After talking about his background and the dissatisfaction with the current gubernatorial slate that inspired him to enter the fray, Farah digs into issues such as sanctuary cities (he opposes them), charter schools (he’s a big supporter), transportation (he believes he can fund major improvements by cutting waste in the current budget rather than raising taxes), energy (in some ways, he thinks fossil fuels are kinder to the environment than alternative approaches), marijuana (he’d defend Colorado laws against federal intervention even though he has his doubts about the wisdom of recreational sales) and more.

Continue to get to know him better.

Barry Farah on the campaign trail.EXPAND

Barry Farah on the campaign trail.

Westword: Why should Coloradans vote for you as the state’s next governor?

Barry Farah: I have long thought about running for governor. We almost jumped in this past October before we decided not to. But with George Brauchler and Tom Tancredo dropping out, it seemed to me that the combination of those two represented some conservative ideology that’s not being represented, certainly at the assembly level, and maybe in total. I feel very strongly that needs to be represented. It’s part of the infrastructure of the Republican contribution. The American idea means something, and if it means anything, it means that we celebrate economic freedom, that we dignify personal responsibility, and that we champion limited government. I’ve spoken on those three things for twenty years and have spent a lot of time thinking about them and processing through myself as my own personal philosophy — and that’s why I say they’re not being represented in the way they need to be for the heart and soul of the Republican Party to continue with a cogent argument.

Tell me a little about your background. Where are you from originally? And how would you describe your family?

I was born in California but raised primarily through my school years in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And I was raised in a wonderful home — economically very humble, but I had dynamite parents who loved each other a lot and loved us three kids. My first job was driving a tractor in the fourth grade, and then I got elevated to baling hay on my uncle’s ranch — my mom’s brother’s ranch. That dates way back to soon after the Boomer Sooner time frame of having some land to ranch. I was the guy who, when baling hay, would run ahead of my older brother and my older cousins to get three bales of hay at twelve cents a bale to their two. I’d just run ahead and get that extra bale or two. I was that skinny, scrappy little kid.

By the time I was in high school, I’d sold water-treatment equipment, I’d sold Electrolux vacuum cleaners door to door, I’d sold siding door to door. It just depended on what you needed. I had this little kit in my car, and I’d whip out the right thing to sell depending on what you needed. That was kind of my entrepreneurial beginnings. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had fourteen employees and a landscaping company. Then, between high school and college, I had it in my heart to have an adventure. I was going to graduate early at seventeen, so what was the rush? So I built a log cabin between Creede and Lake City, out in the wilderness — still the wildest area in the contiguous U.S. I talked a buddy of mine into coming up with me, and we really had a lot of fun. It turned out to be a great cabin, with hot and cold running water. We put the little pipes next to each other, eight inches apart, with a “U” turn inside the wood stove, so you would have enough pipe to heat up. When the water made its way through the wood stove, it would come out piping hot. And we had a restroom that we could flush. It was a great experience. We ended up extending our stay. I did a lot of hiking and climbing and wilderness work. I must have climbed fifteen or twenty of the fourteeners. I wasn’t really keeping track at the time.

But that experience really crafted something in me that was foundational to who I am. Number one, opportunities come from freedom. If I was overly regulated and unable to take part in that experience, it would have limited what I would have been able to do in the future. I came out of there thinking I could do anything, and Colorado, with its freedom mindset, would give me the opportunity, the wide-open door, to dream and to accomplish whatever I set before myself.

Where did you go to college? And please share with me a little about your post-collegiate jobs at IBM and Ford.

I got my computer-science and math degree at ORU [Oral Roberts University]. My dad was a professor there in systematic theology and in history, so it made a lot of sense to take advantage of that free tuition. I came out of there with my computer science and math degree and went to work for IBM — sold computers to the oil and gas industry for a few years. Top salesman at IBM, top performer at IBM. Then I decided to get my MBA. Got that at Ohio State. I married a gal when I was 21 who I’m still married to today. She was from Columbus, so we decided to do my graduate there. No more free tuition, though. At Ohio State, I did well and really loved it. I got my MBA in finance and logistics, was named Weidler Scholar and Logistics Scholar, which basically means you’re among the top in the country. Came out of there and went to work for Ford Motor Company. I was one of their youngest controllers for one of their largest programs ever; I was the controller for the Taurus, Sable and Lincoln Continental car programs. Ran almost 500,000 cars through under my jurisdiction. And then, after a few years there, I just had it in me to run my own business. Now I’m all of 28 and I go and start my own company. I build a business-to-business suite of services primarily for the high-tech industry, and I grow into multiple states. We had employees in 43 states and three countries, so we were a national player. It took me ten years to sell it to four different buyers. All in, I had that from 1991 to 2013 or 2014, when the last vestige of that was sold off.

At 34, I started another company, called Master Solutions, which upgraded the radar satellite systems for NORAD. We were the first $1 billion software contract coming out of the Air Force. So we had that ISCC contract — that’s Interspace Command and Control — and the sensor contract. We were managing the architecture of those solutions. You have to keep all the satellites running 24/7, and then you have to upgrade them from 1950s and 1960s software technology to a more flexible, current software technology that allows for all the new tools as they become active to function without missing one second of visibility while you’re spying on Russia. They described the project, the four-star generals did, as akin to swapping out a jet engine in flight. It was that complex. We ran that and delivered for the investors a very handsome return on investment, then sold that to the NASA Hubble telescope developers in 2010.

After Master Solutions, I built some extended-stay hotels, including the Hyatt House in Minot, which was really kind of the first four-star hotel in the state of North Dakota, up in oil country. That was to burn off some of my non-compete related to technology. Then, three years ago, I started Precocity — the word means to think ahead. We do customer-experience strategy with all the digital touchpoints for Fortune 500 companies. In three short years, we’ve built that to 330 employees in 25 states. And then I just recently handed that off to some superstar talent we have and named somebody the managing partner to run Precocity. It’s in really good hands now, and I’ve matriculated to the chairman role.

Barry Farah on the Colorado slopes.

Barry Farah on the Colorado slopes.

You’ve written two books about business leadership. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned that you feel will translate to the governor’s office?

It all starts with the taxpayer from the governor’s perspective, and what’s going to be the best use of that taxpayer money. The first book, Customer Success — and I coined that term in 1998 — is looking at the customer through the lens of proactively taking care of him, and that includes breaking down all of the components of his little journey map with you, the company, and reducing the frustration, reducing the number of unnecessary silos and bureaucracy he has to go through, so that his experience with you is as pleasing as possible. Of course, if you do that, it’s concurrently as profitable as possible for you as a company because you’re reducing the number of steps required to give him that great satisfaction. The customer satisfaction is similar, but it has this question, this empowering question. We call it the magic wand question. What it does is say, “Look, Mr. Customer, I’m going to give you this power to change the way we deliver a service to you. If you were to wave a magic wand, what would you ask us to do differently that could be better for you?” And what comes out of that, when you really give them that power, is you get great suggestions that actually change the way you deliver the service.

As governor, there are things we do where we have an enormous amount of waste. We have duplication. All organizations do: I’m not just ragging on the state or the government. Every organization that I’ve done a lean-thinking analysis with, including my own, including ones I was running, come away with a 3 to 6 percent reduction in waste. You’ll just find you’re buying subscriptions twice, you’ll have people doing the same job in two different locations. You’ll have duplication of effort, and over time, things get built up into a way that actually serves the company, not the customer. As the governor, I want all the departments the governor has control over to be trained on the approach of reducing our own internal bureaucracy and our own unnecessary silos so that we get the most bang for the buck. My minimum estimate is $800 million a year of reduced waste that we can reallocate toward fixing our roads. That’s 2.8 percent of the budget, which would be the smallest amount I’ve ever been able to pull out from any company.

So you think the savings could go beyond that 2.8 percent once you get in there and really start looking around?

I think that’s the low-hanging fruit, without even talking about the controversial issues.

You mentioned your wife earlier. She’s worked for the Colorado branch of Americans for Prosperity, which is closely connected to the Koch brothers, and there’s been some speculation that you are in some way the Koch brothers candidate. Is that false?

I wouldn’t say it’s false. I’ll give you the facts. Obviously I have been to Freedom Partners, which I think is a wonderful organization. They’re all about economic freedom and they’re all about elevating the person up to being able to have their own sense of worth by adding value, and they’re about limiting government so people can govern themselves. What’s not to love about that? So I’ve been a strong supporter of Freedom Partners for years, and in those settings, when you go to the Freedom Partners seminars, you meet lots of people. So I’ve had the joy and the blessing of meeting entrepreneurs who are the most generous people I’ve ever met. They’re worth a lot of money, but they got there by giving and reaching out and adding value and making contributions and taking risks. Those people, not just the Kochs, are friends of mine. Yes, we have relationships with them, and I’m not apologetic about it, I’m not embarrassed by it. Those are some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met: generous and willing to put their money on the line to do what they can to preserve the whole concept of the American idea.

I’ve also been a donor to Americans for Prosperity. I used to joke that I paid my wife’s salary. I love what AFP does. AFP is like the foot-soldier response team to what the Democrats were doing for years, and that is actually knocking on doors and talking to people face to face to push an issue that fits somewhere within the broad realm of limited government and economic freedom. And so these are things I’ve talked about independent of Freedom Partners for years. I’ve spoken on the American idea. I’ve spoken on the American dream, the whole development of the American dream. It’s fascinating, and it goes back a couple of thousand years. Even earlier, to Cicero — and by the 15th century, we have the Magna Carta, and all that builds up to the Declaration of Independence. Everything that builds the heart and the soul of what’s made America great. I’ve spoken on that for twenty years, and it’s a very important thing to me. What they represent are two wonderful organizations that are very involved in putting their money where their mouth is to help preserve what made America great. And as we know from history, anytime an empire loses its core, founding principles, it crumbles from within. What made America different from all the other great empires is that we were based not just on a territory. We weren’t based on a location or even a people. We were based on an idea, and the idea is, you can reach for the stars as you define it. So, yes, I’m part of those organizations, I believe in them and think they’re fantastic people.

Barry and Tamra Farah pose alongside Vice President Mike Pence.

Barry and Tamra Farah pose alongside Vice President Mike Pence.

Are some of these folks backing you financially in the gubernatorial race?

Anything that anyone would choose to do would have to be independent from the campaign. The campaign has a maximum donation of $1,150 per person, and that’s all I’m able to do. I’ll go to my friends, and I’ll go to my extended network of friends if I prevail past the primary, and do what I can in the campaign to generate a competitive amount of money out of the campaign itself. Anything from the independent organizations, I can’t coordinate with them or direct traffic in any way, shape or form. I have no idea what they would do, if anything. If they do, I’ll be glad to be the recipient. We’ll just have to see what happens.

How about your own personal resources? Are you pouring any of those into the race? And what are your thoughts about folks spending their own money in that kind of way?

I believe in a balanced approach, and I’ve come up with my own ideology about what a balanced approach means. I’m not going to tell you exactly how much I’m willing to contribute. I’m willing to contribute a certain percentage of my net worth, but above a certain percentage, I’m not willing to contribute, because I don’t want to buy the election. What I’m looking for is a groundswell of support. So I’m definitely willing to invest enough to be competitive, and I’m willing to do the hard work of making the phone calls and encouraging folks to invest alongside me — and $1,150, it’s a lot of phone calls. But I want to do it that way because I want it to be as much as possible of the people and by the people.

I think I can hit a target market that is underrepresented right now, and I don’t know if anyone else can hit it as well as I can. And that’s uniting the disillusioned base that wants to hear the candidate lead with values. Not policy, but values. Then you can talk about fixing our roads — but talk about what is it you believe in first. And that’s where I think I have the ability to encourage a good portion of that disillusioned Republican group, concurrently with my business experience. My current company, I have fourteen languages represented. Every slice of religion and perspective and ideology is represented there, and we have to work on disparate contracts and come to agreement and collaborate. I’m good at working with people from all over the spectrum to get things done, and I think that will be appealing to the middle. So I think I have a way, a path to take it all the way through.

Much conversation has sparked up about you entering the race just a few weeks before the state assembly. How can you hope to make an impact that quickly?

We have a multi-tiered strategy and we’re implementing it. It’s a lot, a lot, a lot of work. We’re doing all the blocking and tackling, all the technical things, and on the strategic side, I’m doing the best that I can to make my case. It is true that I didn’t enter six or nine months ago, like so many others did, or a year ago, as some did, but we believe we had no choice to jump in when we did. I didn’t see anyone else leading with a values-based approach that would hold on to the founding principles of the Republican platform.

Let’s touch on some of the major issues in the campaign. In your biography, you make the point that your grandfather came to this country because he was fleeing an oppressive government, but that he did so legally — and that last word is italicized. What would be your approach to immigration policy as governor?

There’s really one thing the governor can do related to immigration, and that is he can apply public pressure opposing sanctuary cities, and I would do that. I believe it’s absurd that any mayor can invent which federal laws he wants to comply with and then choose arbitrarily which federal laws he doesn’t want to comply with. I think that’s a bad path for anyone to take, because look at what happens if you turn that on its head. Right now, you might be violating the law in an area you feel as a mayor is a matter of policy that you believe in. But what if other mayors started revolting against federal laws you do believe in, because they don’t believe in them? Are we just going to allow all the mayors to make up their own laws as they go? No, we’re a country of law and we have an approach that’s laid out for federal law to change. You can’t just choose to violate those federal laws, especially when you’re dealing with criminals who are dangerous and when you’re messing with the incentive system for police officers. You don’t want to incentivize our wonderful police officers to go in two directions at once. They’re accustomed to obeying the law and being the promulgators of a legal process and not to picking and choosing which laws to obey when they’re in harm’s way. So I am absolutely opposed to sanctuary cities, because they push forth a notion that we can violate certain federal laws. And we just can’t go down that road. We’ve got to be legal in every way — and then we’re invitational. If we handle things legally, then it’s very exciting.

Your policy toward transportation issues states that Colorado needs $9 billion over the next ten years, correct?

Yes, in addition to that $1.5 billion we already spend, we need $800 million to $900 million per year, and that fixes a lot of roads. That gets you eight lanes from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins, it gets you to eight lanes where necessary on I-70, it bumps up your laneage in a lot of parts of the Western Slope, it fixes your bridges, it fixes a lot of roads in rural Colorado that are in desperate need of repair — like, roads that are physically dangerous to drive on. It fixes all of those. The impact studies are already completed. This is not a novel thing to fix roads. There are a lot of places in the world that do it a lot faster. We just need the leadership to get it done. The legislature has made this the top priority for the past four years, but they have not put it in place. That makes me very suspicious as to whether they actually really want it done. Transportation used to be about 8 percent of the budget, and now it’s down to about 6 percent of the budget. So it’s absurd that one of the most important things a state government can do would dwindle in size on a percentage basis — and we have so much that needs to be done. It’s not complicated; it just needs leadership.

Barry Farah during a 2016 speaking engagement.

Barry Farah during a 2016 speaking engagement.

And the money saved from eliminating waste will cover that entire $9 billion?

Yeah, $800 million or $900 million a year times ten years. You just need another $100 million or so from the current flush. And we’ve got $1.5 billion that’s excess this year. We don’t have to spend all of that on transportation, but we were very blessed. The economy was doing great and more tax revenues came in than people expected. What I want to see happen is for there to be a priority on making transportation at least 8 percent of the budget. You start with transportation because it’s a lot more important than a lot of other state issues. You start there philosophically, because that’s something that affects everyone, and then you build out your other priorities as well.

High among your other priorities is expanding charter schools. Would that include the funding of religious schools in addition to other charter schools?

Absolutely. Use the voucher however you want to use it. There’s no reason to discriminate on the basis of anything as long as it’s a quality education. Children learn in different environments, parents have different objectives. They want their children to learn and be stimulated and grow and become exemplary citizens. There are different ways to get there, and you need all the choices you can get in education. And education has a comparative advantage concept just like the free market. Go back to Dave Ricardo‘s concept — Dave Ricardo was a contemporary of Adam Smith — of comparative advantage that he introduced. He introduced it for markets, but I’m applying it to people. And the idea is that you can do three or four things, but if you can find the one thing you’re great at, that you have passion for, you can become a really productive person. And my heart for kids is for them to learn and develop and grow and become fantastic at something. So now not only are they producers and economically self-sufficient, but they’re also happy and they have a passion. You have to have choice to make that happen. Some of the education we’re delivering is designed and structured and ordered the same way it was back in World War II. We need alternatives, and people need to have options.

Some opponents of charter schools argue that children from impoverished backgrounds aren’t able to take advantage of educational choice because of how difficult it is to travel greater distances to better schools….

That’s exactly the opposite of the truth. What happens is, when public education has a monopoly, they end up delivering the solution they want to deliver, top down. Their curriculum, their learning style, their approach. When you give the individual who’s in that lower economic environment a voucher and allow for them to use that for home schooling or have some kind of education savings account or use it as a scholarship or any way they can to reallocate that to the school of their choice, they can get to a school they otherwise couldn’t afford. It is true some folks are jumping in with both feet in an attempt to broaden not just charter schools but other schools of choice in less advantaged neighborhoods. But there’s no way they have any hope of going to a school a rich guy would be able to afford if you don’t give them a voucher that allows them to choose which school they want to go to.

Some candidates believe greater funding is needed to improve schools. Is this another situation where you believe additional funding for schools can be found by eliminating waste?

Let’s look at some facts. The Classical Academy charter school, which we were privileged to be part of the founding board, had no capital component, to the disadvantage of the Classical Academy charter school versus the other schools, which had a capital infusion from the state. We were competing against brick and mortar they already had in place and had the same per-person or per-pupil operating revenue. So it was the same revenue with the huge disadvantage of no funding for our brick and mortar. But if you go to the Classical Academy charter schools in Colorado Springs, with their multiple locations, you’ll see a lot of brick and mortar. How did we pull that off? We pulled that off by taking that per-pupil operating revenue and bonding it at a municipal level and building that beautiful school on the north side of Colorado Springs and buying that other school and upgrading its look and appearance over there off of Springcrest, and accessing all the creative avenues we could to generate excitement and enthusiasm and revenue from caring, concerned parents.

Nobody goes to the Classical Academy charter school and thinks we’re at a disadvantage, but we are. We didn’t get all that funding from the state. We built it off that per-pupil operating revenue by being inventive and using good financial tools that are available to any school. If you’re going to get a guaranteed receipt, you’re going to get the ability to bond it. So that’s one example — and I think it’s the largest brick-and-mortar charter school in the state. Government just gave the big-picture equivalent of the voucher, and then that school chose some inventive approaches to become an extraordinary school competing at every level. That can happen again, but there are all kinds of smaller and equally valuable options out there. When concerned parents are interested and invested in helping their children and you give them a tool like this one, this equivalent of a voucher that we had, all kinds of great things can happen.

When we had our first introductory meeting at the Classical Academy, here was the appeal. You had a lot of people who wanted a school. They didn’t want to have to pay for a private school, but they wanted a school that felt culturally safe to them as they defined it and they wanted a place where the kids could learn and have a joy of learning and stay kids while they were kids but really become good learners. Those were the basic big-picture values, and when we circulated that to our group of friends and scheduled our first meeting, we thought we might have fifty or 75 people show up. We had over 450. And the school had a waiting list, and it still has a multiple-thousand-student waiting list to this day. That’s what happens when you let parents get involved in being able to direct funds for their kids.

Barry and Tamra Farah at last months El Paso County Republican assembly.

Barry and Tamra Farah at last months El Paso County Republican assembly.

On the subject of energy, are we spending too much money and too much effort on alternative energy to the detriment of the fossil-fuel industry in this state?

I think we are. I think if you were to go and look at some of those windmills on the Eastern plains and look at all the birds that have been killed, I think it would change the equation — especially if you realize how many of those windmills it takes to equal one fossil-fuel oil rig. And by the way, that one oil rig, it only has about 100 total days of ugly, and of those, only about fifteen days of real ugly, where you have to hide derricks and so forth. And then after those hundred days, everything gets collapsed down to the size of a garage. You can paint it green and put some cosmetic concrete fencing around it and it will produce for thirty years. And it’s very safe, because we have huge regulatory requirements in Colorado for fracking and going after other fossil fuels.

I love clean air, and I’m a clean-environment guy. I’m a hiker and I love the mountains — and sometimes I wonder if [alternative energy sources] are more adverse to the environment, because they take up so much space, kill so many birds and so many different animals and wildlife. If it takes 150 of those windmills to produce the equivalent amount of energy to one well, and I think it’s actually more, that’s a lot of ugly that stays up there all the time versus a small amount of ugly that’s up there for a small amount of time, and you can hide the remaining ugly for the rest of the thirty years. I’m almost wondering if it’s not better for the environment to say, let’s take away all the subsidies. Let’s not pick winners and losers in this technology. Let’s just require a reasonable amount of safe regulations and let them make the smartest decisions they can so we can have abundant energy for everyone.

Regarding marijuana, how would you as governor respond if the federal government cracked down on Colorado’s state-legal program, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has talked about potentially doing?

The reason Jeff Sesions, who’s a good attorney, knows that’s a difficult thing to do, because, unlike [with] immigration, the federal charter doesn’t really include the right to interfere with a state issue like marijuana. And marijuana is a state issue; our state has voted on it — although the jury’s still out on whether or not it was all that wise. When you take the THC out of it, I’m a total proponent of it. Absolutely. Eliminate suffering wherever you can. When you allow for recreational marijuana with high content of THC, I’m not sure of the wisdom of that. But it’s settled law, and as governor, I wouldn’t do anything to up-end the settled law. But I would promulgate the courtesy laws that are already in place and encourage people to go ahead and enforce them, so while these other studies are being finalized, we can at least be courteous to one another. People really don’t want to walk down the 16th Street Mall and have someone puffing in their face.

The Walker Stapleton campaign has done everything it can to make the Republican governor’s race seem like it’s already over. Obviously, you feel differently about that. Why?

Based on our understanding and a whole bunch of personal interactions and phone calls I have with actual delegates, there’s no one at the assembly who’s a conservative and who gives delegates an opportunity to vote for them. I would argue that most of the delegates would say there’s not really a heartfelt conservative in the race at all except for me. And by heartfelt, I have been for the last twenty years speaking about economic freedom and the whole concept of the American idea and the value proposition of the Republican Party and how we must continually remind people of the point of America. The point of it is that economic freedom has a value proposition, which is that you own the property. You own the right to that property, and when a tax issue comes up, there’s a content behind the policy for me, where in the cases of some of my other competitors, there just seems to be a policy behind a policy.

When we’re talking about elevating and dignifying personal responsibility, when’s the last time we actually stood up to an unnecessary, unrestrained social program? I’ve got the personal cred for that. I’ve been the chairmen of nonprofits that reach out to the poorest of the poor, and I can tell you that elevating somebody with a hand up is much more dignifying and much more celebrating of their humanity than it is to give them a continuous, unrestrained handout. When’s the last time we talked about championing limited government? We have a $28 billion budget. The reason one of the first things I’m going to do is my lean-thinking review is that we need to be more responsible with the money that’s already coming in. So we’re going to find that $800 million by a standard, lean-thinking audit. It will be simple and straightforward, and it will stun us how much money is wasted. Limited government isn’t just a good idea to be efficient, although it is good to be efficient and to give the taxpayer the benefit of that. But there’s an elegance to the checks and the balances of limited government.

I don’t hear anyone else speaking from the heart about the founding principles that make a Republican beneficial to society. And ultimately, Coloradans want to be free. They don’t want the government telling them what to do, they don’t want the government micromanaging their every moment. They want to be able to exchange their property freely without having someone else telling them whether or not they can do that. They do not want a redistribution of their income. They want people to be productive and add value for themselves. I think that will touch the heart of the disillusioned Republican, and I can tell you that disillusioned Republicans do not feel they can get behind any of the other folks currently in the field. I think I have no choice [to run], because I have the resources, I have the contacts, I have the executive experience, I’ve got the heart for it. I have no choice but to offer myself to the assembly as an option and let them decide.

If they push me to the next level, then I’ll give it all I’ve got. We’ll be competitive and let the primary voters make that decision. If I make it past the primary, the reason I think I’ve got the best chance in the general is you have to win the disillusioned Republicans, the lean Republicans and that center. And the reason I believe I can touch the center is because everything I stand for is to their benefit as well. I think at the end of the day I’ll win that case. I’ll be sensible and solid for Colorado. I’ve had to deal with a whole bunch of disparate opinions all my business career to solve very complex, multi-state problems, and I believe that I could offer myself as the sensible solution based on these founding principles that will be to the benefit of everyone.

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