Mike Dunafon's possible run for governor could be good for Libertarians -- and strippers

Libertarian politics in Colorado have always been among the most fun to watch. After all, the nation's third-largest political party was founded in Colorado Springs 42 years ago and has attracted all kinds of colorful characters, from Lakewood City Councilman Doug Anderson, who became the first Libertarian elected to office in a major city in 1987, to Christine Smith, the John Denver-loving candidate who ran for president six years ago. But Glendale mayor Mike Dunafon may top them all if he runs for governor.

And the longtime libertarian promised Fox31 in February he would do just that if he got 60,000 "likes" on his Facebook page before his sixtieth birthday, on April 12. Dunafon easily surpassed that number and told Fox last weekend that he is now working on getting the signatures he'll need to make the ballot.

A run could certainly be a boon for Libertarians, but also for the strip-club industry, since Dunafon is married to Debbie Mathews, the owner of Shotgun Willie's -- and the two have made politics in Glendale pretty interesting over the past decade.

In fact, Gentleman's Review -- a Nevada-based website that promotes strip clubs -- recently used this connection as an indication that "the mainstream consumer's stereotypical negative attitude towards strip clubs may have softened over the years.

"Whether it is Howard Stern talking about his former adventures at Scores in New York City or the constant celebrity sightings at strip clubs throughout the country, strip clubs are becoming more acceptable by mainstream audiences. Even more telling is the market research report, conducted by IBIS World [a market research firm], stating that national strip club revenues are expected to rise 4.5 percent from 2012 to 2017," the website said.

"Around twelve strip clubs can be found in the greater Denver area, and many help cultivate these improved consumer attitudes by upgrading their businesses to offer other services other than just simple stage dancing. Out of these twelve clubs researched in the area, ten of them serve alcohol and six of them serve food. Diamond Cabaret in downtown Denver offers fine dining at CY Steak, a modernized American Steakhouse created by restaurateur Cliff Young, a man who has fifty years of experience in the Colorado restaurant scene," Gentleman's Review continued.

"Clubs are also seeing more of a female customer base beginning to frequent their businesses. This can be attributed to modern club appearances, like La Boheme's 1940's pin up burlesque rock motif or The Penthouse Club's two floors of lavish luxury style seating."

Gentleman's Review also points out that VCG Holdings, the owner of La Bohème, Diamond Cabaret and three others, is run by Troy Lowrie, who got a volunteer job last summer as a reserve police officer for the Town of Morrison, issuing traffic tickets and upholding laws.

Making new laws, of course, could be up to Dunafon if he replaces John Hickenlooper under the gold dome. And Dunafon has already said what he will start with in his first gubernatorial proclamation on Facebook:

"In Glendale, we have our Year of Freedom, where we remove useless, oppressive laws from our books regularly," he wrote on Tuesday. "As your Governor, I will do the same for the entire state."

More from our Politics archive: "Denver's a 'liberal sh*thole'? Republicans debate a Mile High convention."

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes