State Rep. Steve Lebsock, a Thornton Democrat, announced Saturday that he’s running for state treasurer in next year’s election.
“It’s so important that we have elected officials here in the state of Colorado that have your back and that care about freedom and liberty and opportunity to do what you need to do,” Lebsock told Democrats gathered at the party’s 7th Congressional District reorganization meeting at a union hall in north Denver. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the reason why I’m going to take this opportunity for me to tell you today that I’m going to be running for Colorado state treasurer.”
Lebsock, who acknowledged he also weighed a run for Congress, will be the first declared candidate for state treasurer. The incumbent, Republican Walker Stapleton, is term-limited and is considering a run for governor. Earlier this year, Lebsock was also the subject of a series of mysterious “Run, Steve, Run” online ads on The Colorado Statesman’s website urging him to run for governor.
“I really do think that we need to have a solid hand in the state treasurer’s office, and I can do that,” Lebsock told The Statesman minutes after announcing his campaign. “I’m going to put together the best team to make sure we’re investing Colorado’s tax dollars the right way and also make sure we have someone in that office that’s actually going to support state retirees and current state employees with PERA [the state’s Public Employees’ Retirement Association], and I’m going to do just that.”
The state treasurer manages in the neighborhood of $6.5 billion in more than 750 funds and is an ex officio member of the PERA board.
Lebsock said it’s crucial that the treasurer do a good job running the state’s Unclaimed Property Division, which reunites people and businesses with unclaimed property and cash through the Great Colorado Payback, particularly in light of a recent CBS4 investigation that found the program was plagued with problems and delays Stapleton conceded are “unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable.”
“Unclaimed Property is actually a really important division within the state treasurer’s office, and most folks don’t know anything about it,” Lebsock told The Statesman. “Probably one of the first things I’ll do once I get elected to that position is look at all three of those divisions within the state treasurer’s office and make sure we have solid leadership in all three. It’s important we retain being the custodians not only of the Colorado tax dollars but also the custodians of the property that’s unclaimed.”
Lebsock said he plans to file the paperwork to officially launch his campaign on Monday.
A Colorado native and Marine Corps veteran, Lebsock was elected in November to his third term representing House District 34, which covers Northglenn and Federal Heights, along with a big chunk of Thornton and a smidgeon of unincorporated Adams County. Before winning a seat in the Legislature, Lebsock served eight years on the Thornton City Council.
In the House, where he has sometimes been associated with the so-called Doghouse Dems, a group of lawmakers known to buck the party line on some subjects, Lebsock has championed legislation to phase out the use of red-light cameras, lift a decades-old state ban on switchblade knives and allow local governments to decide how late their bars and taverns can stay open.
Republicans said to be considering a run for state treasurer include state Rep. Justin Everett, R-Littleton, Republican National Committeeman and former congressional candidate George Leing and businessman and former legislative candidate Brian Watson.