Libertarian Shotgun Willie’s boss considering gubernatorial bid

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon, a wealthy strip club owner, may throw a new wrinkle into the Colorado governor's race with a social media-driven, self-funded campaign.

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.”



    • Jessica Love

      Last I checked, public assembly was illegal in Denver…per the riot police that surrounded me for doing nothing other than standing on the grounds of my state building and voice my distaste with tyranny.

    • Stephen Mullane

      how is that? as a registered member of the Libertarian Party, I wouldn’t even call Weld Co friendly…too many big government social conservatives. but on the flip side, why do you say he only fits in with Weld Co? what is wrong with liberty, freedom, and true prosperity for all citizens? what is wrong with being fiscally conservative and socially liberal? AKA Libertarian. majority of Americans believe this. the media is corrupt and only gives the side of the “left or right” even though there is no true difference between the two. it’s good to see another voice in the mix. i will be standing with the Libertarian Party’s nominee once the convention is settled come March. both sides want to argue about who spends the less or who takes the less amount of rights and civil liberties. i say enough of the games and BS shenanigans. how about no more spending (as we have no more money) and stop treading on peoples Constitutional rights and civil liberties. as the big gov t partiers say “don’t tread on me” well the Libertarian Party says “don’t tread on ANYONE” LIVEFREE buck the corrupt status quo

      • Jerome Wiencek

        Very well said Mr. Mullane. How do we get the BS out of politics? By taking a stand in ANY upcoming election, that the old way, isn’t going to cut it. Politics must change and lets start now. Lets start with Supporting guys like Mike Dunafon and setting a new standard.

      • Michael Smith

        Hey Shane: I’d say chances are Dunafon is cleaner than the current cast reppin the 2 big parties. The difference is Dunafon isn’t playing the baby kissing smiling politician, he seems to shooting from the hip and being totally forthcoming.
        Being a NYer I don’t know anything about him or his potential opponents but I’d vote for him simply because he isn’t the incumbent and he is a Libertarian.

  • Jessica Love

    I watched a few of the youtube videos Mike Dunafon posted and although the quality of the video left much to be desired, the words coming out of his mouth are the words I need to hear right now. America has been bought, sold and paid for by Men and Women who never should have been trusted with Her. We are living in very dark times where Men in suits can burn down the country and their fellow countrymen and then go play a round of golf and call it a day. It must stop on every level. Denver is in a very powerful position nationally and globally. Turning a blind eye to the tyranny We already are experiencing will set a very bad foundation for the future of Denver’s children, Our country and the planet. We must get good People in position of power before it’s too late.

  • Dr. Jeff Prystupa

    He believes in freedom. Is that radical or what? He says he will accept NO campaign contributions. That means he will have no one to pay back after election, except those who elected him!

  • Reed Rothchild

    I’m all for supporting a man who believes in America and the freedoms and liberties it was forged on. We need to change this road our country and our state is heading down ASAP ! Mike has my vote! As always people , do your research , make educated decisions , GET INVOLVED!!

    • Shane Martin

      Educated on the issues, like this t-party inspired one for instance.

      House Rule XXII,Clause 4 ~ H.Res. 368

      H. Res. 368 is an example of the totalitarian agenda disguised as “caring for the constitution”. This is anti-democratic, no excuse capable. The potential effect of this goes far beyond the debt limit at timing of this action. This puts into the hands of 1 man the ability to even debate an issue on the floor of the US House of Representatives. Be aware, pure evil is fooling you.

  • Shane Martin

    Fitting that the (lower case) t-party rallies like hyper 8th graders. Yes the t-party founded on save the strippers, that’s good PR. I’m just curious, how long was Mr. Dunafon returned from the Caribbean before running for mayor and aiding in the establishment? Anyone note the Glendale police officer indicted for aiding a cocaine dealer?

  • Kenny Kerr

    I have worked with Mike Dunafon over the years in music. It has never mattered to him what a person did or had, he was always fair with everyone. He always looked for solutions rather than causing problems, he was thoughtful and considerate in his speech and he has a great sense of humor. He is one guy who won’t be bought, and in my mind that’s the only problem with all this talk, we like our politicians bought and paid for, and he just won’t fit in. Mike still has hope and is fighting for us to find our voice and use critical thinking rather than some other talking head in the news. Me, I’m a cynic, we’re screwed already, and we will never have agreement on anything. Big money is calling the shots and running the country and the clock is winding down on America.
    God Bless your efforts Mike, I hope I’m eating crow next year, but I don’t think Americans have it in them anymore, we’re too selfish.

    • Shane Martin

      New approach now, the hyper 8th grader one didn’t work. Personal testimony from a guy from an area not near Glendale, or Colorado, is commenting on a mayor of a tiny town planning to run for Governor, comment section in Colorado news. The talking points are here, “politicians bought and paid for…Mike still has hope and is fighting for us to find our voice and use critical thinking….” Plus another of the standard useful quote, maybe to be read in a paper: Mike Dunafon for governor. “…he was always fair with everyone. He always looked for solutions….” Then end with the, “…but I don’t think Americans have it in them anymore, we’re too selfish.”

      Next will be the quotes to your comment by others of the t-party (disguised anarchists for totalitarian result), to say, “Oh yeah, we have what it takes, Go Mike, Go Mike!” Is Guthrie behind all this too?

      Dunafon, you may find cause for this to be a little harsh, but I’ve educated myself a bit more, after having experienced what this town has to offer. 30-70 is being kind, I think you know why.

  • Christopher Sickle Sr.

    I have been following Mike’s videos for some time now and have also done research concerning his time spent as Mayor of Glendale. From all I can see, he has a philosophy for government not unlike our founders’ philosophies and has a strong belief in liberty and the American people. He has applied his philosophy in Glendale and it has worked. Glendale is now a thriving little town and is only becoming more and more an example of what a limited and even helpful (imagine that) government can do. Microcosm, macrocosm. Glendale’s success and growth show us what Mike’s leadership could do for Colorado. Colorado could be an example for other states to follow. If Mike is on the ballot this fall he will definitely have my vote. I’ve done my due diligence on Mike Dunafon as a candidate. Watch his videos and do your own research. I would also recommend taking a trip to Chopper’s Sports Grill in Denver tomorrow at 6:30 and hear Mike speak and ask him some questions yourself.

  • FeelnYankee (@feelnyankee)

    I saw a tweet posted above that said don’t split the vote, joker by @Pauly033 it’s humans like that that have no idea what FREEDOM and LIBERTY really mean and stand for… and split what vote? I’m registered repuke but I vote for those who listen and stand for THE PEOPLE. If Mike Dunafon will stand and tell the federal government to stay out or our state and repeal the idiot gun laws recently passed and signed by hickenchicken, he’s got my vote for sure.

  • Kenny Kerr

    The fact that I make a comment about the Mike Dunafon I know, even if I don’t have a dog in that fight, is indisputably my right. My choice of words as testimony to that knowledge is what comes to mind and is truthful. The fact that some are well worn phrases is not surprising. Unlike Mr. Martin, I don’t think my opinion matters to anyone but me, and also unlike Mr. Martin, I’m man enough to say things straight out and not rely upon snickers and innuendo.

  • John Hancock

    Have known Mike since college days. A very articulate man….a true visionary….. I really hope he has the opportunity to debate with both parties….they will regret that!! Mike is strong willed…and you need to listen to his ideas and make up your own mind. I believe he would be outstanding!

  • Fast45

    So far, at this early point, this guy is certainly the strongest viable candidate to run against Hickenlooper. Wierd, the way politics work … but he is genuine and forthright. That might go a long way towards easing conservative concerns. Everybody else is a professional liar.

    • Jerome Wiencek

      It was a goal Mayor Dunafon set for himself. He needs 60K Likes by his 60th birthday, April 6th. Before putting to much time and effort into something like this, garnering support is the main focus.

  • treedirt10000

    I would most definetly vote for him over any democrat or republican, but I wont be joining facebook to “like” him. If he started his own website for the petition than yeah I’m in, but no I won’t support facebook.

  • Chris Ward

    An incredible gentleman. I have had the pleasure of seeing him in person, twice and reviewing his videos. His message does not change from crowd to crowd. I say that business leaders in Colorado take personal roles in exponentially growing his audience. Having been in Colorado now for only 2 years, I am proud of the direction it is taking and being a model for other states. There are states in India that are even looking at Colorado as a model for legislation. I am honored to help move them along in that regard.

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.