Ali Hasan can't help but stand out in Colorado's political landscape.
With his gelled hair, relative youth (he's 28), central-Asian heritage, and wealthy lifestyle (his father, Malik Hasan, is a multimillionaire, partially retired HMO executive from Pueblo), Hasan doesn't embody a stereotypical young politico. Indeed, if he's learned anything as a political candidate, it's that his campaigning hasn't necessarily helped him reflect that either.
"I think I came off as a rock star," says Hasan, who last year lost his first campaign as the Republican nominee for state representative in House District 56, which includes Vail and other central mountain towns. "We fantasize about rock stars, but we never vote for them.... They vote for grandma, who's in the kitchen cooking."
And like any bona fide rock star, Hasan has drawn some unwanted headlines. Last March,Â his former campaign publicist and girlfriend filed for a temporary restraining order against him
, claiming that he hired computer hackers to gain access to her e-mail accounts and followed her around intimidating her.Â Miller laterÂ dropped her attempt to obtain a permanent restraining order
, and no criminal charges were filed.
Running against Democrat Christine Scanlan last year in House District 56, Hasan threw more than $250,000 of his own money into the race. And by his count, he knocked on more than 20,000 doors in a House district that only claims about 50,000 registered voters. But on election day, Scanlan won by 7 percentage points.
A week later, Hasan had to be hospitalized for a colon infection and dehydration, apparently brought on by too much work.
Hasan is unfazed by the loss (he blames it on voters turning on Republicans after John McCain supported last October's financial bailout package). This year, he's seriously thinking about an even bigger prize: taking on incumbent state treasurer Cary Kennedy.
When he's not working the political circuits, however, he's working on films. He's currently shopping three movie scripts (all written by him) to studios, including a biopic of former Pakistani Prime MinisterÂ Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007.
Hasan is waiting to make a decision about running against Kennedy based on which candidates the GOP fields for the position, but he's willing to put his filmmaking on the back burner. If he does run, he says he'll do it without the snafus and drama of last year's House race. Instead of a rock star, he says, people would see him as a hard worker.
But it's hard to picture Hasan not speaking his mind.
When I spoke with him this week, he pulled out a list of state investments, pointing out how much money Colorado has funneled to Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and other troubled financial institutions that have received federal bailout money in recent months.
Also in Hasan's crosshairs: a 2007 law banning the state from dealing with any company that does business with the government of Sudan. The law was passed to help isolate the Sudanese government in the wake of the Darfur genocide. But in Hasan's eyes, the restrictions are "institutional racism."
"There's genocide all over the world," he says. "Why are we picking on Sudan? Is it because they're black? Because they're African?"
If he runs for treasurer, Hasan says he's developed an unbeatable campaign strategy based on the lessons he learn on last year's campaign trail.
"I don't want to seem arrogant, but doubt anyone would be competitive against (the strategy)," he says, declining to give details about what his plans consist of.
"Nobody knows how to run a campaign now better than me."