The Colorado gubernatorial race is heating up as the November election approaches. While the main headline is the narrow margin in the polls between Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper and GOP nominee Bob Beauprez, a lesser-known name is challenging the status quo of a two-party candidate electoral system.Right now, the race appears to be too close to call, with conflicting polls showing both Hickenlooper and Beauprez in the lead. The
two latest polls show Beauprez leading 46 percent to 44 percent, and a tie between the two at 42 percent. There is a consistent 6 percent of voters who support a third-party candidate -- among them is Mayor Mike Dunafon.
Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon, the self-designated “Most Interesting Politician In The World,” entered the race this summer after he lost a bet. The stakes: if his Facebook page got 60,000 likes by his sixtieth birthday in April he would garner the signatures to petition his way onto the ballot.
His Facebook page now boasts over 75,000 likes compared to Governor Hickenlooper’s 30,000 and Bob Beauprez’s near 8,000. So what is it about Dunafon that is provoking this surge of public interest?
In an interview for IVN, Mayor Dunafon reflected on his role as an unaffiliated candidate in the gubernatorial race.
“The deck is stacked against us,” Dunafon said. “You have to unseat the king and he isn’t going to give up easily.”
But that isn't slowing him down. As he said in a third-party candidate debate with Colorado Public Television, he is “in this to win it.”On the issues, Dunafon lines up with neither the Republican nor Democratic parties. According to his
campaign website, the independent candidate is pro-gun, pro-marijuana legalization, pro-choice, and anti-big government. Support for the legalization of marijuana is a cornerstone of Dunafon's campaign and political ideology.
In response to Hickenlooper's characterization of Colorado's legalization of marijuana as "reckless," Dunafon said, “I would suggest the most reckless thing ever done was the war on hemp. We have killed hundreds of thousands of people.”
Dunafon is adamant that cannabis is a miracle plant from a medical standpoint and his record as mayor reflects his support for the legalization of marijuana in so far as he claims to be the only mayor from the metro area to have supported Amendment 64 (the legalization of marijuana).
In keeping with Dunafon's anti-establishment politics, he has made campaign finance reform a major tenant of his own campaign. He has refused to accept donations or endorsements from PACs or outside organizations and insists the power of social media can transcend big political dollars.
Dunafon is calling for an ‘American Spring,’ drawing an analogy to the Arab Spring. In evaluating the Arab Spring, Dunafon postured that while there were young and idealistic people yearning for change, they didn’t have the necessary follow through.
“You have to be prepared to govern after you win the peace”, Dunafon said.
Dunafon’s breakout onto the gubernatorial scene is perhaps less likely a result of his political ideology than his break with the traditional style and strategy of campaigning.
Riding on his support for Colorado's recent legalization of recreational marijuana, Dunafon teamed up with rapper Wyclef Jean to create a YouTube channel with a music video and short videos that generate memories of Roosevelt’s fireside chats and Goldwater’s living room candidate ads.
“ Dunafon said.
Despite all of the theatrics surrounding his campaign, Dunafon is serious about his role as an independent candidate. If elected governor, Dunafon said that is exactly what he would do, govern.
“I’ll be an accessible governor” he added.