PARKER -- Republican state Sen. Greg Brophy, who lead the party's fight against new gun control laws earlier this year at the Capitol, is ready to challenge the executive who signed them into law.
Brophy, a watermelon farmer from Wray on Colorado's eastern plains, officially announced that he wants to challenge Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper next year.
He's not alone.
Brophy, a quirky, deeply-conservative and somewhat unconventional politician, joins a primary field that already includes Tom Tancredo, who challenged Hickenlooper in 2013 as a third-party candidate, and Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who has formed an exploratory committee but has yet to officially announce his campaign.
"I think the state needs an experienced leader with Colorado values who they can trust," Brophy told FOX31 Denver..
Former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, R-Littleton, is also likely to join the field, several sources tell FOX31 Denver; and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, elected just last year, is being pressured to run but has yet to decide if it's worth stepping away from the prosecution of Aurora theater shooter James Holmes to do so.
Before a group of a few dozen supporters at the Wildlife Experience here, Brophy criticized Hickenlooper and positioned himself as his party's best chance to beat the incumbent, who's still an odds-on favorite to win reelection despite seeing his popularity dip this year after signing the controversial gun control measures and issuing a temporary reprieve to Chuck E. Cheese killer Nathan Dunlap.
"Gov. Hickenlooper's very vulnerable," Brophy said. "If we run a Republican that talks about opportunity, offering ideas that the best and brightest of the Republican Party can offer, we're going to win this upcoming election.
"As long as we don't play the same old role of offering up single-issue candidates who don't have broad appeal to the middle," he added. "I'm the one guy, of the three of us, who can actually win a statewide race."
Brophy, who hinted that he'd be running for governor back in March after failing to stop the gun control laws from being signed into law, more or less made it official on Friday, when he quietly changed his Twitter avatar to reveal his gubernatorial campaign's logo.
His website shows a picture of Brophy firing an AR-15 while the logo bearing his name is adorned with a bicycle. The two images point to the candidate's varied personal interests and his political uniqueness as a uncompromising defender of the Second Amendments and a serious cyclist who drives a Toyota Prius and does yoga with his wife.
Earlier this year, Brophy raised eyebrows when he broke ranks and voted in favor of a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to receive in-state college tuition, a bill he'd voted against twice before.
"I'm a hard guy to put in a box," Brophy said. "I'm uniquely Coloradan."
But Democrats don't believe Brophy will appeal to the independent voters who typically tip the scales in statewide elections.
"If Republicans are trying to redefine themselves, they're not working very hard at it," said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio in a statement Sunday.
"So far, Tancredo, Gessler and Brophy bring more of the same, outdated and failed policies of the past that are too extreme for the average Coloradan."
After his official announcement Sunday, Brophy is heading off on an early tour around the state, with stops planned in Pueblo, Aspen, Rifle, Palisade, Colorado Springs and Loveland over the next three days.AlertMe