Our list of the movers and shakers who are shaping the Mile High City—now.
25. GOP WOULD-BES
The state Republican Party has been in disarray for some time, but election years always bring a new round of hope for change—and increased clout. The Colorado GOP’s 2014 prospects received a surprise boost in February when Cory Gardner, who was running virtually unopposed to retain his 4th District House seat, suddenly decided to challenge U.S. Senator Mark Udall (number 21).
The move had instant ramifications. Amy Stephens immediately dropped out of the race, as did Ken Buck, who now will run for Gardner’s vacated seat. (He’s favored to win.) And Gardner isn’t likely to face the same funding disadvantage the other candidates had relative to Udall; outside money is sure to pour into what has become a fantastic opportunity for Republicans to flip a Democratic Senate seat.
In the gubernatorial race, Secretary of State Scott Gessler is the only challenger who might make this list on his own—he was number 36 in 2011—but win or lose in November, his SOS tenure is up in 2015. Mike Kopp and Greg Brophy are staunch conservatives whose values, so far, haven’t resonated with mainstream Colorado voters. And Tom Tancredo is…Tom Tancredo. In fact, the Republican choices for governor have been so universally uninspiring that former Congressman Bob Beauprez—who lost to Bill Ritter by 17 points in 2006—entered the race in March.
But after Gardner’s recalculation, all bets are off. The GOP was instantly revitalized by the move, and if Gardner can find a way to appeal to a broad range of voters despite his highly conservative voting record, our next power list may look decidedly different.
26. GAIL KLAPPER
Member and Director, Colorado Forum (19)
Gail Klapper leads the Colorado Forum, which is an innocuous name for one of the most powerful political lobbies in this state. The Forum has 77 members (including at least nine entries from this year’s list, primarily businesspeople and political operatives) and interests in fiscal policy and education—and, of course, water.
27. PHIL ANSCHUTZ
Phil Anschutz is as wealthy and influential as ever in and around Denver—the Anschutz Medical Campus remains one of the most expansive and groundbreaking health-care facilities in the region, and he’s recently begun exploring the possibilities of wind energy in the West. But lately the billionaire’s focus has been more on his entertainment and business holdings in Los Angeles.
28. JIM DETERS
Co-Founder, Managing Director, and CEO, Galvanize (new)
The Front Range, and Boulder in particular, has been getting a lot of startup buzz of late, and Jim Deters—who’s based right here in Denver—is one of the primary visionaries behind many budding entrepreneurs via his Galvanize startup incubator. (Among current Galvanize portfolio members are Pandora, Uber, and the MyHub social platform, and the organization recently received a $1 million grant from Google designed to discover and nurture female entrepreneurs.) By helping create companies and drafting their talent, Deters is one of the primary reasons all those “next Silicon Valley” predictions might actually come true.
We Coloradans have a (good) drinking problem.
Restaurant folks like number 35 and number 48 aren’t the only ones in the empire-building occupation; so are those in the spirits biz. From veterans such as New Belgium Brewing Company’s Kim Jordan and Great Divide Brewing Co.’s Brian Dunn to newcomers like Crooked Stave’s Chad Yakobson, Colorado is an epicenter for beer companies. Prefer wine? Boulder-based master sommelier Richard Betts wrote The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert, which reverently brings a hoity-toity subject to the everyday drinker. And let’s not forget distillers: Lance Hanson’s Peak Spirits CapRock gin is set to become a bar staple everywhere, to which we say, cheers!