One candidate is the husband of a strip club owner who has been endorsed by Snoop Dogg. Another is a faith-driven ballet dancer.
They make up half of the field of lesser-known gubernatorial …
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They make up half of the field of lesser-known gubernatorial candidates who are trying to shake up the two-party system while also putting some color back in Colorado politics.
Either John Hickenlooper will win re-election on Nov. 4 or Bob Beauprez will take the seat from him.
But don't tell that to the four candidates in the race whose names are not Bob or John.
"I can win and it's going to send a shockwave through politics on the planet," said Mike Dunafon.
Dunafon is the mayor of Glendale who had a brief playing career with the Denver Broncos. He is married to Debbie Matthews, who owns Shotgun Willie's strip club.
Dunafon, who is running as an unaffiliated candidate, wants to reduce the size of government and believes that the two major parties have failed to rein in spending.
He is critical of recent efforts aimed at boosting K-12 education performance. He brands "Orwellian" Common Core education testing measures as "common floor" methods.
And he is against Amendment 68, a ballot measure that would provide schools with tax revenue that would come as a result of allowing casino-style gaming at the Arapahoe Park racetrack.
"Why don't we just pass prostitution and say we're giving it to the kids?" Dunafon said.
Dunafon is also pro-gun and pro-gay marriage and he supports the release of non-violent drug offenders from jail.
But Dunafon has made waves this election cycle for the non-traditional endorsements he has received, including those of hip-hop stars Wycleaf Jean and the one and only Snoop Dogg.
In fact, the two collaborated with Dunafon on a remix of the song, "The Trap," which Dunafon says is "a metaphor for our false set of political choices."
"Stop the intolerance/Gay couples free to wed/Women control their bodies/Get the government out of bed," go some of the lyrics, with Dunafon and Snoop sharing vocals.
Libertarian candidate Matthew Hess doesn't have hip-hop artists backing his campaign, but he is tapping into Dunafon's passion for attracting voters who are fed up with the current two-party system.
"I think they don't feel represented anymore," Hess said. "It continually comes up that there's a feeling of disregard, almost a benign neglect from the two parties."
Hess, who grew up in Douglas County, is a systems administrator who said he has volunteered thousands of hours with the Boy Scouts of America.
Hess doesn't like government intrusion and he believes overregulation and high taxes slow economic growth.
In other words, he is a classic Libertarian.
"Some do think Libertarians are nuts, utopians and anarchists," he said. "But others are starting to see that Libertarians are right. It's based on common sense and it's very logical and consistent."
Then there's Harry Hempy. With a name like that, he is the perfect standard-bearer for the Green Party.
"It fits," Hempy said of his name. "I think it give me a 10 percent handicap over the other candidates. You won't believe how many people ask me if that's my real name."
Hempy, who lives in western Boulder County near Jamestown, is a retired IBM computer scientist.
He is also a former Democrat who said he left the party out of frustration that its leaders weren't taking the issue of campaign finance limits seriously.
"I finally became convinced that they were not interested in taking money out of politics, so I said there's no hope in this party, just like in the Republican Party," Hempy said.
Hempy would like to see a faster development of renewable energy resources and wants the government to stop handing out "special tax subsidies" for oil and gas companies.
Hempy also wants government to do something about "the injustice of low pay and corporate control." He believes that message resonates with voters who may be disillusioned with government and politics.
"Sixty percent of Americans want to have a third major party and they don't realize they're in the majority for wanting that," he said.
The veteran candidate of the group is Paul Fiorino, an unaffiliated candidate who is making his third run for the governor's office.
"It's just a matter of name recognition, that's all it is," Fiorino said of getting voters' attention. "People see you on the ballot a couple of times and maybe they'll take you seriously the third time."
Fiorino believes the state has only scratched the surface when it comes to the possibilities of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana sales and use in Colorado. He would like to see the state take on a greater role in promoting cannabis commerce and said there is also great economic potential in the hemp industry.
On education, Fiorino said he is frustrated that schools have cut back on art programs, the humanities and physical fitness.
"We're supposed to be the healthiest state and we don't even have a physical fitness standard," he said.
Fiorino was raised in Douglas County and is ballet dancer who has performed on stage from New York to Denver.
In the early 1990s, Fiorino was affected by Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disease where the body's immune system attacks parts of the nervous system. Fiorino has fought through the disease, which can paralyze muscles, and has even released his own album, where he plays guitar and performs faith-inspired songs.
Fiorino believes there are parallels in working as a performing artist and being a governor.
"You need to bring chaos together to put on a performance," he said. "That's what an artistic director can do and that's what a governor does."
"But, just being a ballet dancer in America takes some cojones, I think."
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