Secretary of State Scott Gessler kicked off his campaign for governor Wednesday, promising to take the state in a new and better direction.
"Our state is pretty much headed in the wrong direction and we have a governor who really doesn't stand for anything," Gessler said in an interview with The Gazette before he formally announced in Colorado Springs Wednesday. "I think we can turn this state around and I think we can make this a better place to live, to find a job, to go to school."
Gessler has been critical of Gov. John Hickenlooper's support of a billion-dollar tax increase for education and his approach to economic development.
"You want to have a vision of economic growth and opportunity, supporting our industries, giving businesses the freedom to really go forth and do good things," he said.
Gessler, an election law attorney from Denver, was elected in 2010 to be secretary of state overseeing the state's elections processes and business licensing.
He joins the race facing a primary against Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, and former congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo.
Hickenlooper was elected in 2010 and would be seeking his second term. He has not formally announced a re-election campaign.
With Gessler running for higher office, it leaves the question of who will fill his seat as secretary of state.
So far no Republicans have filed as candidates for the office.
But there may be an El Paso County-centric primary for the GOP bid to replace Gessler.
On Wednesday El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams said he will let the public know soon whether he intends to run for office.
"I had a number of folks encourage me to run and so I plan to decide by the end of the month whether to file," Williams said. "I think one thing that's clear is we do need a secretary of state that understands the election process and is committed to ensuring that every Coloradan's legal vote counts."
Contacted by cell phone in Vienna, Austria, Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, confirmed he's mulling a bid for the office, too.
"I will make some kind of a decision one way or another after the first of October, when I return," Gardner said, who was serving as an international election observer for parliamentary elections in Austria.
Gardner, who was first elected in 2006, faces term limits at the end of the 2014 legislative session.
Former Colorado Sen. Ken Gordon, a Democrat, has already announced he will be running for the office, as has Democrat Joe Neguse, a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents.
Contact Megan Schrader