Kopp pushes gun rights, lower taxes

He's one of seven Republican candidates hoping to oust Hickenlooper as governor

Former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp said Friday he's the best qualified candidate to fill the leadership void in the governor's office.

"We have not been well led in the state. John Hickenlooper hasn't done anything," Kopp told 20-some Republican stalwarts at Christina's Bar Grill in Durango on the first of four stops Friday.

"I have an agenda because everything rides on leadership," said Kopp, one of seven Republicans vying to take on Hickenlooper in November. "I'll be out regularly listening to people, including monthly visits to the Western Slope."

Kopp was Senate minority leader while in the Legislature from 2007 to 2011. He currently works for the Intermountain Rural Electric Association.

Kopp, a former hot-shot firefighter, served in the 82nd Airborne Division, was in the Gulf War and worked for the U.S. Border Patrol.

He will focus his campaign on four issues, Kopp said.

Restart the economy by lowering taxes and reducing government spending. He says government is swollen, creating jobs within itself, but not for the general economy.

"I'd cut red tape for business," Kopp said. "Then I'd get out of the way and stay out of the way."

Hickenlooper has created 14,000 pages of red tape, Kopp said.

He'd appoint judges who hew the line on tax issues because when these issues reach court, the government wins and the taxpayer loses, Kopp said.

Exercise the governor's veto power. He says he'd tell legislators early on that he's willing - and would - use the prerogative, Kopp said.

Restore the Second Amendment. If you come under attack, you should have the right to defend yourself instead of looking for a place to hide, Kopp said.

Kopp cited the "Chuck E. Cheese" murders by Nathan Dunlap - the killing of four employees as they closed the fast-food outlet. Dunlap, convicted of murder, received an unusual "temporary reprieve" by executive order from Hickenlooper who chose not to allow the execution or grant him clemency.

"Hickenlooper wouldn't allow the execution," Kopp said. "I'll sign the order of execution."

Resist domination from Washington. He says the 10th Amendment guaranteeing state sovereignty is simply a nuisance to President Barack Obama, but a fundamental right to states.

"We have to push back," Kopp said. "We're not administrative outposts of the federal government."

The other GOP governor-race hopefuls are former Rep. Bob Beauprex, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, former representative Tom Tancredo, state Sen. Greg Brophy, businessman Steve House and rancher Roni Belle Sylvester.

The seven will meet in a June primary election.

After Durango, Kopp was headed for Montrose, Delta an Grand Junction.