GREELEY — Weld County Sheriff John Cooke officially kicked off his campaign for state Senate Sept. 8 at Randy’s All American Bar and Grill with a raft of endorsements from his fellow northern Colorado Republicans.
Cooke, who is at the end of his third and final term as sheriff, is running for Senate District 13 to replace state Sen. Scott Renfroe, who is term-limited.
Renfroe told the crowd that he was happy to endorse Cooke not just to keep the district in Republican control.
“It’s been an honor to serve in this Senate district. It’s amazing that’s it’s been seven years and I have one year left to serve, and then I get to go back to the real world, which is what I’ve been telling people,” Renfroe said. “John and I got to know each other over the last seven years quite a bit. He’s been a huge help for me on a lot of issues at the Capitol providing information, being there to testify on different things, and just pointing things out that a non-law enforcement person wouldn’t know on technical issues on bills.”
Renfroe beat Democrat challenger Ken Storck with 65 percent of the vote during his last election in 2010, but he reminded the crowd that his district looks different now than when he was last elected to office.
“In 2010, we had redistricting. So the district has changed a little bit,” Renfroe said. “I filled out a check here for $400 for John, and I hope all of you could do that, too ... because we need to send a message that this seat is not one that they can take away from us.”
Colorado State Senate District 13 now encompasses Weld County and includes parts of Greeley, northern Brighton, Evans, Fort Lupton, Gilcrest, Johnstown, La Salle, Milliken and Platteville.
State Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, described Cooke as reminiscent of “one of the sheriffs of old.”
“They stood up for their townspeople. They stood up for their communities,” Saine said. “They stood up for what’s right, not what’s politically correct. And Sheriff Cooke has done that in so may ways. He has not released records of folks that have concealed carry. He has defied laws that are unjust.”
Cooke filed a lawsuit with 54 other Colorado sheriff’s against gun control legislation passed during this year’s general assembly. The ongoing suit alleges recent gun control measures violate the Second Amendment and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Because having weapons that are commonly used for our self defense, that’s our right,” Saine said. “And we have a sheriff that stands up for that right.”
Vicki Marble, a freshman state senator for District 23, said it couldn’t be a better time for Cooke to run.
“About 12 years ago, I met Sheriff Cooke,” Marble said. “And he was giving his speech after winning the sheriff election for Weld County. And the words he spoke then can not be more relevant than they are today. He was telling people to remember to always keep your friends in the community.”
Marble said Cooke made it a priority to get out of the sheriff’s office and to meet his constituents on a regular basis.
“So you always have your finger on how important those people really are,” Marble said. “Down in Denver, if you stay there, you will become what they are. John is very aware of everything that’s needed to serve the public, and he is has done a fantastic job, not just for Weld County, but for the state of Colorado.”
At the kick-off party, Cooke also received endorsements from Steve Moreno, Weld County clerk and recorder, and Colorado State Rep. Stephen Humphrey.
Cooke will face off in 2014 against Joe Perez, a transit operator from Greeley, and he cautioned the crowd that this race had been targeted by Democrats at the national level.
“I don’t recognize this state anymore, so I’m very serious about what I’m going to do,” Cooke said. “There is an attack on rural Colorado, make no mistake about it. And it starts with our governor; let’s start with him. A few years ago, when he was the mayor of Denver — now he’s the governor of Denver — but at the time, he was doing an interview, and during the interview he was asked about rural Colorado. And he said the people of rural Colorado are backward thinkers. And that’s what he said when he was mayor of Denver.”
Cooke said he heard an apt description of life’s stages: a “learning” phase, an “earning” phase and then, finally, a “returning” phase, which is the chapter when he can give back to the community that helped him grow.
“I can retire from the sheriff’s office, I’ve been there 30 years almost, but I don’t want to retire, ” Cooke said. “I want to give back to the residents of Weld County and I want to represent their values down at the Statehouse.”
Contact Ben Wiebesiek at
303-659-2522, ext. 205, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.