U.S. gubernatorial races feature record number of women

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican candidate for governor of Colorado, addresses the Foothills Republicans on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, at Pinehurst Country Club in Lakewood. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican candidate for governor of Colorado, announced her campaign team Monday, with less than a month to go before the April 14 GOP state assembly.

In addition to political and fundraising consultants with national profiles, Coffman is relying on advisors from her 2014 attorney general campaign and her time in office, grassroots activists and strategists who have steered other Republicans to assembly wins. Her senior strategist, Tyler Deaton, is a national consultant who has managed a conservative-focused campaign for LGBTQ rights, a position Coffman shares.

Coffman, who dropped her re-election bid and jumped into the gubernatorial race in November, is one of at least seven Republicans running to replace term-limited Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. Coffman’s campaign intends to make a case that she’s the only GOP candidate who has both conservative principles and can appeal in the general election to Democrats and unaffiliated voters, a source with her campaign said.

She’s among the Republicans seeking a spot on the June 26 primary ballot at the state assembly, which takes the support of 30 percent of delegates, whose selection process started March 6 at precinct caucuses. They include Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, former Denver Trump campaign co-chair Steve Barlock, as well as several additional candidates who have filed to run.

Three Republicans have submitted petitions to land a spot in the primary — State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, former state lawmaker and entrepreneur Victor Mitchell and former investment banker Doug Robinson, who is Mitt Romney’s nephew. Until a month ago, Coffman was also circulating petitions but switched to the assembly route, saying she felt “disconnected” from potential primary voters. (A spokesman for Stapleton told Colorado Politics he’s considering also going through assembly because of strong performances in straw polls conducted at caucuses.)

Here’s Coffman’s campaign team:

Chairman – L. Roger Hutson

Hutson, president and CEO of HRM Resources III, LLC, a Denver-based oil and gas producer, is a former board president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and a former chairman of the Colorado School of Mines Board of Trustees. He chairs the Colorado Limited Gaming Commission, which oversees Colorado’s casino operations.

Senior strategist – Tyler Deaton

Deaton is president of Allegiance Strategies, a Washington D.C.-based public affairs consulting firm, and senior advisor for the American Unity Fund, a nonprofit that makes a conservative case for advancing LGBTQ rights. He’s a former campaign manager of the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry organization.

Coalitions director and volunteer coordinator – Elaine Brofford

A management consultant and former vice chair of the Denver County GOP, Brofford played a key role steering Coffman’s successful bid for the attorney general nomination at the 2014 Republican state assembly, where she won support from 69 percent of the delegates. at the Colorado State Republican Assembly, where Cynthia secured the support of 69 percent of the delegates.

Senior political consultant – David Tschetter

Tschetter, CEO of the real estate company Qwizzle, is managing Coffman’s path through the assembly. He chaired Mike Kopp’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign, including the former state senator’s win at the GOP state assembly and ran Vera Ortegon’s successful campaign for a spot on the Republican National Committee in 2016. (Ortegon, a former Pueblo city councilwoman, was Kopp’s early pick for a running mate during the 2014 gubernatorial primary.)

Finance director – Caroline Wren

Wren, a veteran fundraiser for politicians, organizations and nonprofits, was finance director of the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee, which raised $64 million for the GOP’s national convention. She was South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s finance director for his 2014 re-election campaign and did fundraising for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Arizona Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaigns. Wren has been working with Coffman since she launched her gubernatorial campaign.

Communications chief – Roger D. Hudson

A former journalist, Hudson directed communications for Bob Beauprez’ winning gubernatorial primary run in 2014 and was communications director for the Colorado Department of Law under Coffman. He’s also run communications for the Colorado Department of Corrections and been spokesman for the Colorado Republican Party. Hudson runs consulting firms The Hudson Firm and The Lobby and was recently elected to the Castle Pines City Council in Douglas County.

State assembly coordinator – Erica Shields

Shields, a Jefferson County Republican, is a precinct captain and was elected as a delegate at her caucus. She’s a member of the 2018 class of the Leadership Program of the Rockies and serves on the board of the Liberty Day Institute and the steering committee for Wreaths Across America.

Campaign coordinator – Shannon Kopp

An experienced political fundraiser and nonprofit development specialist, Kopp was national finance director for Jane Norton’s 2010 U.S. Senate run and a senior finance director for the McCain-Palin campaign. Before that, she worked on California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finance team for his successful re-election bid in 2006.

Political advisor – Keely Hanlon

Hanlon works for Deaton as a director at Washington, D.C.-based Alliance Strategies. Before that, she worked on the National Federation of Independent Business political team. She has handled communication with the press for Coffman’s campaign in recent months.

Policy advisor – Heidi Heltzel

Heltzel is co-founder and former executive director of the American Transplant Foundation and is a former vice president of governmental affairs at the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. She has been a policy analyst for the Colorado General Assembly’s Legislative Council.

Campaign assistant – Kayla English

English, a Colorado native, handles logistics, advance and transportation duties with the campaign. She interned for state Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor.

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