Six leading candidates in the 2018 Colorado governor election

Ty Betts

After serving a two-term limit, John Hickenlooper is soon to be replaced as governor of Colorado, as campaigns for November’s election are underway.

After the March 6 caucus candidates moved forward with campaigns in preparation for primary elections on June 26 leading to the general election on Nov. 6.   


This overview takes the three most voted for Democrats in the recent caucus with Cary Kennedy receiving 49 percent of the vote, Jared Polis at 33 percent and Mike Johnston at 9 percent. The Republican caucus results have not been released at this time and the selected candidates for this article take the three highest polling candidates according to surveys by Magellan Strategies.       


Cary Kennedy

From: Evergreen and Denver, Colorado

Background: According to Ballotpedia, Kennedy’s education includes a bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University, a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University and a law degree from the University of Denver.

Kennedy was elected as the Colorado State Treasurer and later appointed by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to serve as Deputy Mayor and Chief Financial Officer for the city of Denver.

Focus: Kennedy spotlighted three areas on her campaign website that she will address if elected.

“Making education Colorado’s top priority, making healthcare affordable and accessible, and protecting the Colorado we love in the face of growth,” Kennedy’s website reads.

Kennedy also plans to shape energy policy to meet and exceed the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Kennedy also has plans for water conservation with hopes to save 400 thousand acre-feet of water by 2050. 

Jared Polis


From: Boulder, Colorado

Background: According to Ballotpedia, Polis graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. His campaign website shows he has spent time as an entrepreneur building businesses including American Information Systems, ProFlowers and an online greeting card company.

Polis currently acts as one of seven politicians who represent Colorado in the U.S. House. Polis recently opened a campaign office in Fort Collins located on College and Laurel.

Focus: Polis has several priorities including improving statewide broadband internet, taking measures to prevent gun violence and establishing universal full-day kindergarten and preschool across Colorado. Polis also wants to ensure affordable housing within the state.

“The Colorado way of life should be within reach for everyone,” Polis’ campaign site reads.

Polis also has preparations to adapt Colorado’s infrastructure and mass transit to support an increasing state population.  

Mike Johnston 

From: Eagle County, Colorado

Background: According to his campaign site, Johnston worked as a public school teacher in Mississippi before coming back to Colorado and working as the principle for a juvenile detention center.

Johnston is a former member of the Colorado State Senate and served as one of 35 representatives who created legislature for Colorado.  

Focus: Johnston’s campaign site highlights a need for better infrastructure and increased funding for public schools. Johnston also opposes the selling of Colorado’s public lands and advocates for a future fueled by renewable energy.

Equipt with a four-step plan, Johnston also plans to reform gun control in Colorado with steps including banning bump stocks and high capacity magazines.

“We are calling on students, parents, community members and elected officials to join the movement #4NoMore,” Johnston’s campaign site reads. 


Walker Stapleton

From: Colorado

Background: According to Ballotpedia, Stapleton has a bachelor’s degree from Williams College, a graduate degree from London School of Economics and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Stapleton is currently serving his second term as Colorado State Treasurer.

Focus: Stapleton’s campaign site shows he opposes sanctuary cities and intends to increase enforcement of immigration laws. Fiscal restraint and higher attention to taxpayer dollars also hold a place in Stapleton’s priorities.

Stapleton showed support for making use of Colorado’s natural resources.

“Colorado is blessed with an abundance of natural resources: coal, oil, gas, as well as wind, sunshine and rivers that are not only a part of our way of life, but a vital supply of energy,” Stapleton’s campaign site reads.

Cynthia Coffman

From: Missouri

Background: According to Ballotpedia, Coffman earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and later a law degree from Georgia State University.

Coffman is the current Attorney General for Colorado after serving 10 years as Chief Deputy Attorney General under Attorney General John Suthers. Coffman and husband, Representative Mike Coffman, recently split. Mike Coffman is a Colorado House representative. 

Focus: A press release from her campaign site indicates Coffman’s strong opposition to sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants.  

“Sanctuary city policies are disrespectful to law-abiding Americans and all immigrants who followed the law as they came to our country to pursue the American Dream,” the press release reads.

Coffman also showed support for the rights of gun owners to conceal carry guns within and across state borders as expressed in a letter written to Congress.

Doug Robinson

From: Michigan

Background: Although he is the nephew of previous presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Robinson is new to politics and spent his most of life working in the private sector.

According to his campaign website, Robinson has an economics degree from Brigham Young University and moved to Colorado with his family in 1996.    

Focus: Robinson highlights the need to improve Colorado education by embracing charter schools, STEM fields and vocational studies. While noting that he was never a supporter of legalizing marijuana, Robinson’s campaign website advocates for eliminating black markets to increase tax revenue from legal marijuana purchases.

Robinson also calls for action to improve Colorado’s infrastructure.

“CDOT has been allocated almost no money from the general fund. And now we’re at a breaking point,” Robinson’s campaign website reads. “We will make fixing our roads a priority in my administration.”   

Collegian reporter Ty Betts can be reached at or on Twitter @tybetts9