Colorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne visited the La Plata County Democrat Office on Saturday after her announcement earlier in the week that she is entering the race for governor in 2018.
Lynne, a Democrat, also serves as the state’s chief operating officer.
Gov. John Hickenlooper picked Lynne, a former health insurance company executive, for the job in March 2016.
“Two months ago, I would not have thought I’d be sitting here,” she said. “I’ve never run for public office before.”
She faces a difficult challenge in upcoming months to secure support over her four notable opponents, businessman Noel Ginsburg, former state Sen. Mike Johnston, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis.
“I think being governor has a lot to do with your experience, passion, vision and tenacity,” she said. “I believe that I have all of those qualities. I’m convinced there is an expertise to running large organizations. There is an art to managing things.”
Lynne said she toured all 64 counties in Colorado after being appointed lieutenant governor, and she asked the same question in each county: What are your three biggest issues?
“I got almost the same answers in every county,” she said. “People in Colorado are concerned with affordable health care, infrastructure and either housing costs, or opioid issues.”
An avid outdoors enthusiast, Lynne has summited all of the fourteeners in Colorado, and is a staunch supporter of preserving the environment.
“I have fond memories of Colorado from a recreational point of view,” she said. “I cannot overstress the importance of our environment, especially in this part of the state where you had to live through the Gold King Mine spill.”
Because of her background, one of Lynne’s main focuses is state and federal health care reform.
“We have been fighting many attempts by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to change misconceptions about what it does,” she said. “I think we should celebrate what President Obama was able to do, but also go a little further.”
Lynne said she believes the first step to going further is continuity across the board.
“I am a supporter of universal health care,” she said. “I think that every single person in the state of Colorado and the country should have health insurance. I want to get everyone insured before getting into the political controversy of single-payer health care.”
She acknowledged that trust in the government is at an all-time low, and said it is important to be transparent.
“I want to be sure that you as citizens know what you’re getting,” she said. “I won’t be the candidate that comes with slogans; I will be the candidate that comes with solutions. I like to say that I’m a tough and complicated person, and I take on tough and complicated issues.”