Gessler’s slow burn continues with gubernatorial bid

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Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler won't be seeking a second term as the state's top elections official. On Thursday, he formed a committee to begin raising money for a gubernatorial campaign.

DENVER — After promising an announcement some time this week, Secretary of State Scott Gessler said Thursday that he’ll decide in the next couple of months whether to run for governor.

But almost every Republican politico across Colorado believes that Gessler is in.

On Thursday, Gessler dissolved his reelection effort for Secretary of State and filed new paperwork to form a gubernatorial campaign committee.

He “has started raising money to run for Governor [and] will spend the summer listening to the values and vision of Coloradans and make a formal announcement in the fall,” said Rory McShane, Gessler’s political director.

Gessler will decide whether he’s actually going to run after meeting with voters across the state, not wanting to force a Republican primary, even though one seems inevitable at this point.

After Rhode Island transplant Steve Laffey entered the race last week only to withdraw six days later, Tom Tancredo, who lost to Gov. John Hickenlooper as a third-party candidate in 2010, has declared his candidacy for governor next year.

And there’s no way the state’s GOP establishment leaves the field to the outspoken immigration firebrand, given the rising political clout of Latino voters and the imperative of improving the Republican brand.

Other Republicans reportedly interested in the governor’s race: state Sen. Greg Brophy of Wray and former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp.

While Republicans are chomping at the bit to take their best shot at Hickenlooper, thought to be slam dunk for reelection before seeing his negatives spike during a Democratic-controlled legislative session, no one seems interested in taking on U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, who also faces reelection in 2014.

Sources tell FOX31 Denver that it may be another month or two before a challenger steps forth.

Look for more contested GOP primaries in two other down-ballot races as well.

With Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck now cancer-free, it’s likely he’ll join House Minority Leader Mark Waller and Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Coffman in the race to succeed outgoing Attorney General John Suthers, who is term-limited in 2014.

And the race to replace Gessler could also get interesting, especially with some of the top Republican candidates, like Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson, on less stable ground with conservatives after supporting Democratic legislation to change the state’s election laws.

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