Libertarian Shotgun Willie’s boss considering gubernatorial bid
DENVER — As Republicans struggle to find a viable candidate to challenge Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, an independent, highly unconventional and wealthy gubernatorial hopeful is hiding in plain sight.
Well, in Glendale anyway.
Mike Dunafon, 59, the Libertarian mayor of Glendale whose fiancee owns Shotgun Willie’s, is promising on his website to petition onto the gubernatorial ballot this fall if he can get more than 60,000 “likes” on his Facebook page by April 6, his 60th birthday.
Should he do so, he’s promising to run as an “unaffiliated, independent, standalone candidate.”
He’s just over 18,000 likes at the moment.
“I will rely on our communication on Facebook, Twitter and all the social media to change the face of politics on the planet, not just Colorado and the United States,” Dunafon says in the video outlining his “60 for 60” challenge.
Dunafon, a former NFL player who’s turned Glendale into a destination for rugby with the city-owned Infinity Park, is pro-Second Amendment, pro-gay marriage (he officiates a same-sex union in a video on his site) and pro-choice.
In an interview on The Glenn Beck Program last year, fill-in host Dana Loesch introduced him like this: “He owns a castle, he owns a strip club, and he owns a church — oh and he’s also the mayor.”
But could he actually become governor?
That’s what he’s trying to find out.
“Mike is appealing to all those people who have lost faith in government and politics as usual,” said Patrick Guthrie, a Los Angeles-based director who’s helped with many of Dunafon’s YouTube videos and is now assisting with his potential campaign.
“We’re trying to see if social media has now evolved to where we can bypass the usual channels of the party and the fundraising process and still mount an independent campaign.”
Dunafon started putting a series of videos on YouTube featuring him, sitting in front of a fire in many cases, expanding on his political views.
As the sermon-like speeches started gaining traction, Dunafon started getting people asking him to do more, to take the next step.
Hence, the gubernatorial gambit.
“The likelihood of winning is pretty slim, but when you look at the Arab Spring and how technology enables you to become your own pamphleteer and you see what can happen, you see that we can change the dialogue enough to empower people,” Dunafon told FOX31 Denver Tuesday.
“A lot of the videos are tongue in cheek, but it’s meant to remind people that we can change things. We still have a ballot box. We still have hope.”
Because he’s registered as an independent candidate, Dunafon would need just 1,000 signatures to petition onto the statewide ballot. Were he registered as a Democrat or Republican, the threshold would be much higher — 10,000 signatures.
“It’s kind of a sneak attack,” Dunafon said. “Because they’re not afraid of independents. And that’s what’s so wrong with our political process and how it’s so controlled by these political parties.”
Dunafon said he’s spent time with Hickenlooper, who he considers “a decent guy”; and he’s held fundraisers for two GOP gubernatorial hopefuls, Tom Tancredo, who he considers a friend, and Secretary of State Scott Gessler.
“That’s just about money,” he said. “And that’s part of the problem too. Money controls our politics. By the time you get to that office, you owe so many favors to people that it’s over.
“You’re no longer a gatekeeper for liberty; you’re a gatekeeper to the people you owe.”
Dunafon has met with Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call about a possible independent campaign for governor and, should he run, the likelihood of Call being forced to attack him.
“You’ve got this circular firing squad going on within the party and he sees it and knows it’s killing the party, but come election time, he’ll have to defend the party’s flawed nominee and come after me, someone he probably agrees with more,” Dunafon said. “Because that’s his job. And it’s sad. It’s what’s wrong with Republican politics and party politics in general.”
As far-fetched as a gubernatorial campaign may sound, it makes a bit more sense if you consider it as part of Dunafon’s rather happenstance, lifelong journey, which is also helpfully explained in one of his videos.
Born in a home for unwed mothers, he’s drifted along: to college on a football scholarship, into the Caribbean on a sailboat he traded his house to acquire after hamstring injuries abruptly ended an NFL career with the Broncos; to rugby after years of playing guitar and doing stand-up comedy on an island; and into city politics, suddenly, after watching Glendale officials try to shut down Shotgun Willie’s a few years back.
“I’ve wound up in the shit a few times,” Dunafon said. “But I’ve always wanted to see how things work out, to see what happens when you try something.”AlertMe