Greg Brophy said he and his family were ready to return to a normal life on the farm.
After a decade in state politics, the Yuma County Republican will be term-limited out of office after the 2014 legislative session. Brophy said he would have no problem returning to his beloved Wray, where he grows watermelons for a living, and is a fourth-generation farmer. However, as the 2013 legislative session proceeded, he said it became obvious that he might have to stick around in the game just a little longer.
“I thought we had a moderate, business-friendly governor,” he told the Pioneer last Friday by phone while on his way to Alamosa for a Lincoln Day Dinner, referring to Governor John Hickenlooper, “by the middle of March it was obvious that we didn't.” Brophy officially announced his gubernatorial candidacy Sunday in Parker at the Wildlife Experience. His own campaign sent out notice last Friday that the announcement was coming Sunday, but embargoed it until then. However, it still was getting around in the “Twitterverse” over the weekend prior to the announcement. “I'm running because I believe that Coloradans deserve better,” Brophy said during his announcement. “We should have a government that limits itself instead of limiting your liberty.
“Instead of limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines, we should increase the capacity of our highways,” he said. “Instead of increasing utility bills, we should be increasing the number of charter schools and magnet schools in Colorado. The governor has divided our state by focusing on fringe issues, rather than the kitchen table issues we really care about.” Brophy was referring to gun control legislation, and the renewable energy mandate for rural electrical cooperatives. The renewable energy legislation went through without any input from the rural cooperatives, or those who would be most impacted by the legislation.
He noted there are a lot of people in the legislature that are working hard for the “regular guy” but none of them were showing any interest in running for governor. By mid-March, “I felt it fell to me,” he told the Pioneer. “It was something I needed to do.” He is the second Republican to announce his candidacy, the first being former congressman Tom Tancredo, who lost a three-way race for governor in 2010. Secretary of State Scott Gessler also is expected to run.
“Nobody has stepped up with the ability to put together a 51-percent coalition in order to get this done,” Brophy said. “I think I am the one that can get it done. I can appeal to the middle. You can trust me. I mean what I say and say what I mean.”
The gun control and renewable energy issues, both solidly backed by Hickenlooper, also are among many causes that has led to the 51st state movement. “That movement is what happens when people feel their governor is not even listening to them,” Brophy said. However, rather than form a new state, or change the dynamics of the state legislature by allowing each county to have an elected representative, Brophy said the best way to re-enfranchise rural residents is by electing someone like him to governor, someone who will listen to all Coloradans.
Brophy grew up in the Wray community, graduated from Wray High School in 1984, and has raised three children in Wray with his wife Angela. He worked for U.S. Senator Wayne Allard for a while before being elected as a state representative in 2002. He was appointed to fill a vacancy in the state Senate in 2005, and was re-elected in 2006 and 2010. He described himself as a “principled conservative” but does not easily fit into any category. He is Republican that defends oil and gas production, and that renewable energy should stand on its own merits rather than be subsidized by the government — yet drives a Prius and absolutely loves the “green” vehicle. He is a strong advocate of gun rights, but also is an avid cyclist — and Colorado's cycling community would never be confused with the Tea Party.
Brophy voted for in-state tuition for the children of undocumented residents, and also said he does not think civil unions for same-sex couples are the end of civilization, saying the welfare system is a much bigger concern for society. He said he thinks the in-state tuition and the civil unions issues are going to hurt him with his Republican base, but that is just something he is going to have to overcome.
Brophy said he talks to people all over the state, both urban and rural, and he keeps hearing that Coloradans are ready for a new direction. “We need a governor who listens to all of the people of Colorado, not the special interests in New York,” he said, referring to accusations Governor John Hickenlooper and fellow Democrats were taking cues on this year's gun control legislation from East Coast interests.
Brophy said he has the full backing of his family; he said he would not be doing this otherwise. As much as he loves Wray, Brophy and Angela and their 12-year-old son will be moving to Denver before school starts in August. He said they have sold a property in the metro area to help them get by for a year to 18 months while he runs for governor. He said he has not decided what to do yet with the farm, but he has family members who can help out for now. “Honestly, I don't really feel like I've changed from a principle perspective, but my role has changed,” Brophy said of his transition over the years from being seen as a hardcore conservative to a more middle-of-the-road legislator. He has gone from the House to the Senate, and into a leadership role among Republicans. “You realize you need to be a leader, concentrate on the important kitchen table issues.”