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Campaign ’86: Lamm’s Successor in Colorado to be Markedly Different in Style

August 7, 1986 GMT

DENVER (AP) _ No matter who wins, the man who occupies the Colorado governor’s office next January will be a sharp contrast to outspoken, iconoclastic Richard Lamm, who has been governor longer than any man in the state’s history.

The lone Democrat in the wide-open race is state Treasurer Ray Romer, 57. The wealthy Romer was once Lamm’s administrative staff director.

The Republicans were unable to avoid an Aug. 12 primary battle. Their three candidates are:

- Bob Kirscht, 44, Pueblo, a 16-year legislative veteran who once served on the Democratic side of the aisle when Lamm was assistant minority leader in the Colorado House. Kirscht switched parties in 1981 and emerged No. 1 on the GOP primary election ballot after the June 7 state assembly.

- Steve Schuck, 50, a hard-driving millionaire businessman from Colorado Springs who tried, but failed, to get the Republican nomination in 1982.

- Ted Strickland, 53, of Westminster, a 22-year legislative veteran and current senate president who won the Republican nomination in 1978, only to lose to Lamm by nearly 167,000 votes.

Lamm was inaugurated on Jan. 14, 1975, largely by virtue of his strong stand on environmental issues. He helped lead voter opposition to Colorado’s being designated the site for the 1976 Winter Olympic Games.

Except for fights with the Republican-controlled Legislature, Lamm’s first two terms were relatively tranquil. In his last four-year term Lamm has caused a national uproar with his blunt views, earning the nickname ″Governor Gloom.″

Among them are his statements that people who are terminally ill have a ″duty to die and get out of the way″ instead of prolonging their lives with artificial means; there are ″linguistic ghettos″ of immigrants who ″live their whole lives in Spanish″; and it is futile to spend money on AIDS patients because ″there are only two types of AIDS patients. Either you’re dying or you’re dead.″

Romer, a lawyer, is no stranger to Colorado politics. He served as Lamm’s first commissioner of agriculture and later took over as the governor’s staff director. He served in the state Legislature, then lost to Republican Gordon Allott in a bid for the U.S. Senate in 1966.

Since then he has twice been elected treasurer by comfortable margins.

Romer has, during his appearances before generally Republican audiences, been praised for his ″keep Colorado money in Colorado″ investment and lending policies he initiated as state treasurer.

Kirscht is a fiscal conservative who, as the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee chairman, has been responsible for drafting a state budget that will cope with declining revenues and increasing program costs.

Lately he has called for a curb on expansion of Colorado’s already polluted Front Range area - the Denver metropolitan area, primarily - in the interest of the state’s quality of life.

Schuck has criticized Kirscht, Romer and Strickland as ″business as usual″ politicians whose tax-and-spend policies have not served the state well over the past decade.

At a news conference last month, Schuck dumped $285,000 in $1, $5 and $10 bills into a trash can, saying that is what is being taken from Colorado motorists in fuel taxes daily and ″wasted″ through mismanagement.

Strickland, who entered the campaign late, enjoys the best name recognition of all the candidates, primarily because of a losing bid against Lamm in 1978, and because he has held a leadership position in the Senate for most of his 20 years there.

The governor, typically blunt, predicted Schuck will win the GOP primary because he would have the money to advertise in the latter part of the campaign. Schuck is well-financed, his treasury including a controversial $100,000 loan from a Denver developer. In the final dys of the primary camaign, he has flooded Colorado television with his ads, all focusing on his belief that he is a businessman who can run the state like a business.

John Love, who served 2 1/2 terms in the 1960s, was the last Colorado governor who had no prior political experience. Love’s son, Andy, ran for the GOP nomination this year but failed to make the ballot.

If Schuck wins the primary, Lamm said he will lose to Democrat Romer in the general election.

″Romer more represents the mainstream voters of Colorado,″ the Democratic governor said.

Colorado voted overwhelmingly for President Reagan in 1984, but voters are still strongly independent. There are more unaffiliated voters in the state than either registered Republicans or Democrats.