Lindstrom’s bid for governor begins
SUMMIT COUNTY – With the calendar flipped to 2006, the countdown has begun for gubernatorial candidate Gary Lindstrom to get moving in his campaign to be the state’s next governor. And he has some real work to do.”There are four and a half million people in Colorado, and there’s probably 4.3 million that have never heard of me,” said Lindstrom, who represents Eagle and Summit counties in the state House of Representatives. “But I think that I’m better known throughout Colorado than people would give me credit for.”The clock is ticking for Lindstrom to win the valuable name recognition he needs to have a shot at the Democratic nomination. Well-known former Denver district attorney Bill Ritter is the most visible, furthest-along candidate for the top spot on the state Democratic ticket, and is the only other person to formally announce his candidacy thus far.
And if you run down a traditional electoral checklist at this point in the race, it seems Lindstrom is behind on all counts. Ritter announced his candidacy for the state’s top job upon resigning his DA job in January 2005; Lindstrom made an official announcement of his decision to run in early December.Ritter has hired a campaign manager. Lindstrom hasn’t yet, saying that he is still looking for a manager as well as a director of fundraising.And, speaking of money, Ritter has raised a lot of it – more than $680,000 through year’s end, said Ritter’s campaign spokesman, Evan Dreyer. The Ritter campaign raised more than $220,000 in the fourth quarter of 2005 alone, Dreyer said.Lindstrom to this point has raised about $10,000, an amount which he doesn’t expect to grow dramatically because of his “grassroots” campaign strategy, which he says will appeal to small donors. “But I’m getting money almost every day,” Lindstrom said.Publicity battleThe race statewide, however, isn’t all about money. The nomination process by the state Democratic party begins with precinct caucuses across all corners of the state. Every precinct has to hold a caucus by March 21, the first real deadline in the race. That’s where Lindstrom says he’s going to focus most of his attention between now and then; he’s working now to get people who support his candidacy into leadership positions in precincts everywhere.
“Right now it’s an open race, so it really just depends on who can woo the hearts and minds of the party regulars,” said Pat Waak, chair of the Colorado Democratic Party. “If I were running for governor, I would be out looking for as many delegates as I could at the county level.”For his part, Lindstrom doesn’t feel like he is racing to catch up to Ritter, who often is mis-described as the only Democratic candidate in the race by the state’s major media.”(Ritter)’s not out there stumping. I know of just two places that he’s been to on the West Slope,” Lindstrom said. “He’s not getting any publicity. He’s not necessarily talking to groups.”Clearly, Lindstrom thinks the current players in the governor’s race aren’t out in full force just yet. He called Ritter, and Republican nominees Bob Beauprez and Marc Holtzman, “pretty anonymous at this point.”And on the issues, Lindstrom took Ritter on directly.”Bill Ritter has not come out with an agenda or a platform. I have looked at his Web site and he’s pretty much non-committal on everything,” he said.Ritter campaign spokesman Dreyer took umbrage at that.”We would respectfully, but definitively, disagree with Gary on that. Bill’s very clear on his positions on a whole host of issues,” Dreyer saidTo this point, Ritter’s campaign hasn’t exactly caught fire among state Democrats, partly based on Ritter’s outspoken, moderate, faith-based stance on abortion – a non-starter for many among the state’s Democratic base.In advance of the precinct caucuses in March, Lindstrom said he’ll be working party leaders to generate momentum from the county level upwards.He’ll have to juggle a busy schedule to do it, though. The state Legislature again meets in working session starting next Wednesday, and will be in session for 120 days into May.”I’m not going to step back from my responsibilities as state representative … it’s my No. 2 priority,” he said. “My number two priority is to get elected governor.”