The Green Candidate

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

Walker's former boss at the university, David Andrew, says he remembers evaluating Walker a year after he started the private company. "I argued with myself about whether or not I should grade him down because he was spending so much time off campus," Andrew says, but he decided to give him high marks because he still did excellent work at the school.

Eventually, Walker sold his company to a much larger software firm. The sale, he says, included a non-disclosure clause, so he can't talk about it. But he made enough on the deal that he decided to move away from Louisiana, he says, and retire to a mansion in Hawaii. That didn't last long, though. "You can only play so many rounds of golf," Walker says. "I know I'll never retire again."

Returning to the computer business, he went to work for the Computing Research Association, a new organization designed to lobby Congress for more money for higher education to do computer-science research. He says he was paid "into six figures" for that work, which brought him to Washington, D.C., six months a year for three straight years.

David Gries, head of the Computer Research Association board when Walker was hired as executive director, says Walker established the D.C. office from scratch, with no experience in the capital. "He didn't seem like a big political operator," says Gries, "but he did a great job getting that office going."

Once that organization was up and running smoothly, Walker says, he returned to his private computer consulting and real estate businesses. Newly married, he decided to move to Colorado to be near his daughter and son-in-law, who had earlier moved to Denver.

Walker sits on the boards of three companies, according to documents filed with the Colorado secretary of state, and has served as a computer consultant both in Hawaii and here. A current project involves a small company that publishes wedding planning guides. He hopes to sell the company for a seven-figure sum. The candidate won't reveal his net worth but says he wouldn't blink at spending $2 million or more on his own bid for office.

While he's immersing himself in Colorado politics, however, he still shows his Southern roots and deep religious beliefs. His bird, Curly, has been trained to sing two songs: "Dixie" and "Jesus Loves Me." God, he says, is his campaign manager. "I have a strong, abiding faith," Walker says. "Any success I've had has come from Him." And Walker's only media ads so far have been in the Colorado Christian News and the newsletter of the Christian home-schooling movement.

With that in mind, it's disconcerting to visit the small gambling room in Walker's mansion, complete with an antique slot machine and an old-timey painting of a naked lady.

In public, he wears a cross next to the Rotary pin on the lapel of his corduroy blazer. To those who don't know him, the cross and the number of times the phrase "sanctity of life" appears in his brochure are signs that he is part of the religious right.

"He is out on the fringe," says GOP state senator Don Ament, a rancher from northeastern Colorado who has heard Walker speak at a couple of Republican functions. "He is off the radar screen."

Walker, however, remains confident. He even says his current lack of visible support is a plus. "The longer Bill Owens thinks I'm not a factor," he says, "the better it is for me.

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