Republican Rose Pugliese made clear Wednesday night that she isn't running for office, quashing long-standing expectations in state political circles that the former Mesa County commissioner planned to challenge Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold in next year's election.
"Despite speculation that I am 'running for something,' " Pugliese tweeted, "I have decided not to run for office at this time so that I can focus on providing for my two young children."
Since early this year, Pugliese has been making the rounds at GOP functions while chatter grew that she intended to run against Griswold, the first Democrat elected secretary of state in nearly 60 years.
The announcement leaves Colorado Republicans without even a rumored candidate for the state's top election office. Since last year, Griswold has been at the center of a partisan firestorm surrounding voting methods and unfounded allegations of widespread election fraud by former President Donald Trump and his supporters.
Joe Jackson, executive director of the Colorado GOP, told Colorado Politics that there will be a candidate to take on Griswold but added, "Not one that is ready to be named yet."
Pugliese served two terms as commissioner in the Western Slope county and made headlines late last year when she was named the sole finalist for the job of Mesa County attorney after moving to Colorado Springs to practice law.
Last year, Pugliese was the public face of an unsuccessful statewide ballot referendum that would have prevented Colorado from joining a national movement to award the state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote.
A month ago, The Colorado Sun reported that Pugliese had recently formed a nonprofit called "Rose for Colorado" with a veteran Republican operative serving as its registered agent, a move Pugliese said at the time she had only made in case she later decided to seek office.
Griswold's campaign has been launching pre-emptive attacks aimed at Pugliese since April, including calling the rumored candidate "a risk to our democracy" and labeling Pugliese "an outspoken climate change denier" in a recent fundraising email.
"We cannot let her become Colorado’s next Secretary of State," the Griswold campaign said in June.
A spokesman for the Griswold campaign declined to comment on word that Pugliese won't be running.
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