SHARECOMMENTMORE

DENVER - Republicans in Colorado have made no secret of their intentions to flip the balance of power in state government, accusing Democrats (who control both chambers of the state legislature) of overreaching on guns, the environment, and elections law.

Even if the GOP can snag control of one or both houses of the legislature, they'll have a tough time undoing the Democrats' policy changes without also taking the governor's office.

The coming months will see a lot of action for the Republicans hoping to challenge Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado), starting with precinct caucuses on March 4.

There are six gubernatorial candidates vying for spots on the June 24 Republican primary ballot. While some enjoy better name recognition than others, all of them have a shot.

"There's no inevitable candidate. We're talking about a free-for-all here," 9NEWS political analyst Floyd Ciruli said.

There are two ways for a GOP candidate to get on the primary ballot.

They can gather 1,500 signatures from registered Republicans in each of Colorado's congressional districts (10,500 total signatures).

Or, they can go the more traditional route of earning support of delegates at the April 12 state GOP assembly. The first delegates will come from the March caucuses and work their way up to the state level through county assemblies.

To earn a ballot spot at the state assembly, a GOP candidate must earn the support of at least 30 percent of the delegates, meaning a maximum of three candidates can be placed on the ballot through this method.

Interestingly, candidates are allowed to attempt to win ballot access through both the assembly and petition methods. However, candidates who do this and fail to earn 10 percent of the delegates at the assembly are disqualified, even if they gather the necessary signatures.

Earning the support of delegates will not be a cake walk. Candidates must convince delegates they are conservative and charismatic.

"While I'm calculating which candidate I like the best on my issue," Ciruli said. "I'm also trying to think about who can actually beat John Hickenlooper."

Beating a sitting governor isn't easy and it doesn't happen often.

The last sitting governor to fail to win a second term in Colorado was Republican John Vanderhoof, whose campaign coincided with voter backlash over the Watergate scandal.

Hickenlooper has had his share of controversy.

He played a lot of defense last year over guns and the death penalty, but this legislative session has seen less controversy and his response to the historic floods generally boosted his profile.

"What that's doing to the Republican field is it's making them harder to get sort of believability that they can beat the Governor," Ciruli said. "And that's hurting their fundraising."

That is evident in the fundraising figures.

The six GOP candidates had raised a combined $998,000 as of the most recent campaign finance report on January 15. By contrast, the Hickenlooper campaign reached $1.6 million in total contributions.

The caucuses next month will provide each GOP hopeful with the chance to jumpstart fundraising and build momentum heading toward the primary election.

SHARECOMMENTMORE