GOP candidates for state Senate blast Kerr

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Sanchez, Nicolais battling to face first-term senator

By Ramsey Scott

The two candidates vying in the Republican primary in state Senate District 22 both say the incumbent is out of touch with voters. 


Tony Sanchez and Mario Nicolais are running for the chance to face Democratic state Sen. Andy Kerr in November’s election. 

Sanchez, a manager for nonprofits, received 59.8 percent of the delegate votes at the GOP county assembly on March 22. He said that for Republicans to prevail in the general election, the party needs to offer a clear alternative to Kerr. 

“I’m bold, and you know where I stand. I’m a clear, liberty, constitutional conservative. I think for voters, it’s out of respect for them. It gives them a clear choice,” Sanchez said. “It’s better for the constituents. There’s a lot of disconnect with the electorate because the government is out of control. They’re not listening. … I want to bring that connection back.”

Sanchez, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico and El Salvador, moved to Colorado three years ago from the San Francisco Bay Area. He recently moved into South Jeffco’s District 22. 

Sanchez said oppressive government regulations and taxes in California led him and his family to move to Colorado, in part because of the state’s tradition of libertarianism.

“When you live in a place like (California), when there’s too much government, too many rules, too many taxes, you feel it. There’s no escape from it,” Sanchez said. “I want to get the government out of people’s lives.”

Sanchez has been endorsed by Jeffco school board member Julie Williams, the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and former state senator John Andrews, among others. 

Nicolais, a lawyer who has worked with GOP groups on election-law issues and argued before the state Supreme Court, received 39.7 percent of the assembly vote. He also helped run U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s 2002 campaign for state treasurer and worked on several other Republican campaigns. 

“Actions speak louder than words. I have actually been someone who has walked these precincts and walked these neighborhoods for candidates,” Nicolais said. “I have a record of not only fighting for Republicans but actually winning for Republicans. … My professional life has been dedicated to working against liberals and working for Republicans.”

A self-described policy wonk, Nicolais said he’s a centrist that could defeat Kerr in the general election. He currently works at Hackstaff Law Group, the former law firm of Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler. 

Nicolais, a Jeffco native, said his local roots would take away an advantage Kerr has used in previous races. 

“Andy has been able to use (being a local) as an advantage over every single opponent he’s run against in the last four elections. He can’t do that against me,” Nicolais said. “I know this community as well as you do, and I know your policies are bad for it.”

Nicolais’ campaign has been endorsed by former state representative Ken Summers, Jeffco school board President Ken Witt and former state senator Norma Anderson, among others. 

Both Nicolais and Sanchez have signed the Colorado Union of Taxpayers’ pledge not to raise taxes and have said they oppose the gun restrictions passed by the Colorado legislature in 2013.  


Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine. Check www.columbinecourier.com for updates.