Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, a Colorado Republican, says he is seriously looking at running against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016, the latest in a string of potential GOP candidates to put their names forward in the state.
Smith gained prominence among the state’s conservative grassroots in 2013 for fighting against the gun-control legislation championed by Colorado’s Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper. Smith said in an interview that he was making calls and speaking with several statewide elected officials about his plans.
“I’m looking to see if the stars line up in the right way for it to work out for me professionally,” said Smith, who plans to wait at least another month before making a decision.
Smith joins a handful of local Republican officials publicly eyeing the Senate race, none of whom have much political experience or statewide name recognition.
Republicans in Colorado have been on the hunt for a Bennet challenger since Rep. Mike Coffman turned down the race in June, with much attention turning to District Attorney George Brauchler in the Denver suburbs. National party leaders see Brauchler, who just finished prosecuting the high-profile murder case of Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes, as a candidate who could be formidable in next year’s general election and also, potentially, clear a Republican primary. Brauchler has said he’ll announce his decision on the race in early October.