Local GOP candidates are looking toward November


State Rep. Rod Bockenfeld began his address at the June 1 meeting of the Arapahoe County Republican Breakfast Club by pointing to a book written by former presidential candidate Herman Cain in 2011, “They Think You’re Stupid.” Cain died in 2020 of complications from COVID-19. Bockenfeld described Governor Polis’ State of the State speech earlier this year as, “After three years of the most liberal policies that you could ever inflict upon a group of citizens in this state, the governor…talked like a fiscal conservative…because everything was falling apart for the Democrats,” adding that the TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) refund that Coloradans usually get in February is being sent out before the November elections, “So that he can make you believe that…he’s giving you some money back.” 

Bob Lewis is challenging U.S. Rep. Ken Buck in the June 28 GOP primary for CD4.

Bockenfeld blamed Polis and the Democrats in the general assembly for SB22-230, which he said “inflicted collective bargaining on your county governments.” That law, in its original form, would have allowed employees of local governments, public schools, colleges and universities, library districts, fire districts, and more, in addition to county employees, to organize. After the governor made it clear that he would not sign the law in that form if it passed, the bill was pared down significantly. The final form of the bill, which will go into effect on July 1, 2023, allows employees of counties with over 7,500 residents, except for Denver and Broomfield, to organize. However, it does not provide for binding arbitration, hence county commissioners cannot be forced to agree to union contracts.  Home rule counties can also opt out of SB22-230 by a vote of the people.

Caroline Cornell is the GOP candidate for Arapahoe County Clerk in November.

Another criticism leveled by Bockenfeld against state government was its letting a $90 million contract to a company called Curative Labs for COVID testing in 2020, during the early months of the pandemic. On January 4, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety warning that Curative’s tests could produce a false negative result if not administered as instructed on its label. Two weeks later, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced it would no longer use Curative’s tests, based on the FDA advisement. Bockenfeld and others have alleged that Curative only got the Colorado contract because the owner of the company was a donor to Governor Polis. It was also reported that “an influential backer and investor in Curative Labs” was also a “financial donor for Democrats.” That report did not name Governor Polis, and after Curative received emergency approval for its COVID-19 tests from the FDA in 2020, multiple other states, including Florida, Texas, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada, Delaware, Illinois, Oregon and California purchased and used their tests, in addition to Colorado. After the contract was canceled, CDPHE released information describing the steps it took to perform its due diligence prior to contracting with Curative. 

Paul Archer (R) is running for HD37, an open seat.

Several months after Curative’s tests stopped being used in Colorado, state Sen. Rob Woodward (R), asked the Legislative Audit Committee to perform an audit of the contract. That request failed on a 4-4 party line vote. 

Bockenfeld, who represents HD56, is currently the only member of the GOP who represents Arapahoe County in the House. He will be opposed by Kathleen Conway (D) in November. 

Rod Bockenfeld(R) is running for re-election in HD56. Photos by Freda Miklin

Other GOP candidates in the June primary and the November general election also spoke to the group.

Bob Lewis, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R) in CD 4, which includes Castle Rock and Parker, told the crowd that his platform consists of 1) energy independence; 2) food and agricultural independence, because “the federal government is interfering with our farmers and our ranchers;” and 3) parental independence, because “the government is not raising your kids with you.” He differentiated himself from the incumbent, saying, “His (U.S. Rep Ken Buck (R)) approach is to make sure he gets on certain types of committees and that he gets on FOX News,” whereas Lewis, if elected, would be closer to the residents of the district. 

Paul Archer (R), candidate for HD37, which includes Greenwood Village, said that Colorado has become “less and less friendly to families,” because the cost of living is too high and “our crime wave—this place is not safe the way it used to be. I have kids in Idaho and Texas. I feel safer when I’m visiting them than I am here. We lead the nation in auto thefts. We lead the nation in bank robberies. We are number two in property theft. Our murder rate is at a 30-year high, and all of that is because of the policies of this governor and his Democratic legislature.” He continued, “In education… In many ways my kids did better when (the schools) were shut down and their moms were teaching them, than when the schools were open.” Archer will face economist Ruby Dickson (D) in November.

Mark Gotto, candidate for the GOP nomination for Arapahoe County Commissioner district two, said he really cared about the county and would work hard to fix the high crime rate if elected. Gotto’s opponent in the June 28 GOP primary that is currently underway is Jason Presley, 17-year veteran Arapahoe County Deputy Sheriff who is also president of the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. The winner of the primary will compete with Jessica Campbell-Swanson (D) in November. 

Caroline Cornell (R), who is running against incumbent Joan Lopez (D) for Arapahoe County Clerk, told the crowd that Lopez recently said that only one percent of Coloradans are concerned about election integrity. Cornell said that she is a community leader and dedicated professional, and “Joan (Lopez) isn’t.” Cornell said she learned about customer service, an important part of the County Clerk’s responsibilities, when she worked at Sears, beginning at age 16. She suggested that ballots could be “posted online for free, so that if somebody has questions, they can pull them and count them,” as an example of how to improve accuracy and transparency in voting.