The Green Candidate

Armed with deep pockets, Terry Walker mounts a bid for governor.

Decades later Bill Daniels amassed a fortune from cable television and spent some of it to run in the 1974 primary against the last GOP incumbent governor, John Vanderhoof. Daniels lost, and then Vanderhoof lost to Dick Lamm, starting a six-term reign for Democratic governors.

In 1980 Howard "Bo" Callaway spent a bundle of the money he made after founding Crested Butte ski area to run for the U.S. Senate, only to lose the GOP nomination to Mary Estill Buchanan, who lost the general election to Gary Hart.

Terry Considine was yet another Republican who found that money couldn't buy him an office. In 1986 Considine ran for the U.S. Senate by spending his own money and lost badly in a primary. In 1992 he spent almost none of his own money, won the primary and came close to beating Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who was then a Democrat. "Terry was a much more credible candidate when he didn't spend his own money," says veteran GOP strategist Dick Wadhams, who was the campaign manager for Considine in his second run.

Wadhams also points out that two of the most successful politicians in Colorado history are Romer and former GOP senator Bill Armstrong. Both were successful businessmen, but neither spent significant chunks of their own money to campaign.

"Ultimately, you have to build a base to get people to support you," Wadhams says.

Terry Walker points to the example of John Love, who was a political outsider when he decided to run for governor in 1962. Walker also notes that Love was defeated in his bid to be a county chairman the same year he won the governorship.

"Oh, God," says Wadhams, now a spokesman for Allard and soon-to-be head of the Owens campaign. "He's right about Love, but every hopeless candidate ever since then has trotted out his name as proof that he can win a statewide race."

Love himself, who still practices law in Denver, says that Colorado was a simpler place back in '62--he ran his entire campaign on $100,000. By comparison, Bruce Benson spent more than $3.5 million of his own money, mostly on TV ads, in a losing effort against Romer.

The tab for Walker may have to be even higher.
In the meantime, if you go to a political rally and you see a short, balding, rumpled guy standing in the back of the crowd smiling awkwardly and handing out simple brochures, you've run into Terry Walker.

Unlike several of the previous unknowns, Walker is no polished performer. He's folksy and casual. Some may call him vague, others may say quirky.

Like others of his political bent, Walker rails about government intrusion. He puzzles himself about the oddest things. For instance, he says he doesn't understand why there are road signs that announce fines for littering when there are other signs announcing that some group or other is cleaning up a stretch of highway. "I think we should either enforce that law or get rid of those signs," Walker says. The same man, who lives in a plush mountainside mansion, also likes to talk about how his wife cuts his hair and how he washes his own car in the summer.

His father, he recalls, was much more tightfisted. Walker was born one of five children to a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer in Gary, Indiana, who thought of little else but work.

"I never really saw my dad much until I was twelve," says Walker. "That's when he put me to work in the garage changing oil and doing whatever other little things there were to do."

After college, Walker had a chance to get into the dealership but decided not to because he realized he would be working for his father "until they carried him out of the dealership in a box."

Walker left the Midwest and studied statistics and the newly emerging field of computer science at Florida State University, then earned a doctorate at the University of Alabama. He taught at several schools, including Georgia State University and the University of Houston, and wrote a couple of textbooks. Though interested in politics, he says, he never considered running for office. Instead, he focused his time on plans to convert his computer knowledge into projects and profits. People who knew him at his last stop in higher education, at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, say that even then he was a person with a vision for projects that nobody else believed could happen.

Duane Blumberg was a fellow department head when Walker proposed creating a Center for Advanced Computer Studies, a joint operation of the colleges of science and engineering. "Terry was the one who really developed it from scratch," Blumberg says. He adds that he's not surprised that Walker is running for governor. "He faced a lot of obstacles, but he's never been one to let a perceived barrier stop him," Blumberg says.

Walker had plenty of ideas but eventually tired of university life: "I kind of said to myself, 'Okay, I know how to do that, let's move on to something else.'"

So, still on the university payroll, he started a private software company that aimed at computerizing medical records.

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