DaVita’s Thiry won’t be run­ning

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark K. Matthews

DaVita Inc. CEO Kent Thiry an­nounced Mon­day that he would not join Colorado’s crowded race for gov­er­nor — end­ing months of spec­u­la­tion about his po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions.

In­stead, Thiry said in a state­ment that he would fo­cus on other pur­suits, such as sup­port­ing “cen­trist can­di­dates” and “com­mon sense causes” in next year’s elec­tion, though he did not elab­o­rate on whom or what.

“I have held onto the dream of run­ning for of­fice since I was 10 years old. That’s why it is with deeply mixed feel­ings that my wife Denise and I have de­cided now is not the right time for me to run for gov­er­nor of Colorado,” Thiry said in a state­ment.

His de­ci­sion re­moves one of the big­gest wild cards left in the gov­er­nor’s race, as Thiry — who earned a salary of at least $12.3 mil­lion last year — had the po­ten­tial to upend the Repub­li­can pri­mary by sink­ing his own for­tune into the pur­suit of the nom­i­na­tion.

With Thiry out, it keeps the GOP nom­i­na­tion within reach for Repub­li­can can­di­dates who can’t self-fund. It also could help busi­ness­man and for­mer state law­maker Vic­tor Mitchell, who gave him­self an early edge with a notin­signif­i­cant loan of $3 mil­lion.

Thiry’s de­ci­sion may also em­bolden state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Cyn­thia Coff­man to jump into the fray, as the two can­di­dates likely would have com­peted for mod­er­ate Repub­li­can vot­ers. Coff­man

said this month that she was ex­plor­ing a gu­ber­na­to­rial bid.

Only a cou­ple of ma­jor Repub­li­cans re­main un­de­clared: State Trea­surer Walker Stapleton, who is widely ex­pected to run, and for­mer U.S. Se­nate can­di­date Jack Gra­ham, who is mulling an­other shot at elected of­fice.

In ad­di­tion to Mitchell, the GOP field in­cludes George Brauch­ler, prose­cu­tor of the Aurora theater shooter; Doug Robin­son, Mitt Rom­ney’s nephew and a for­mer in­vest­ment banker; and Steve Bar­lock, Don­ald Trump’s Colorado cam­paign co-chair.

There has been spec­u­la­tion for months, how­ever, about a pos­si­ble Thiry bid.

Thiry and his com­pany dropped $2.5 mil­lion last year into two suc­cess­ful bal­lot ini­tia­tives that paved the way for un­af­fil­i­ated vot­ers to par­tic­i­pate in Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can pri­maries, which was seen by some Colorado politi­cos as a step­ping­stone for a gov­er­nor’s run.

Not only might these vot­ers be more amend­able to some­one who op­er­ates out­side the GOP es­tab­lish­ment — Thiry switched his reg­is­tra­tion from in­de­pen­dent to Repub­li­can in March — but in­de­pen­dents are no­to­ri­ously ex­pen­sive to per­suade and Thiry’s wealth could have given him a big ad­van­tage in try­ing to court them.

Colorado is di­vided al­most equally among Democrats, Repub­li­cans and un- af­fil­i­ated vot­ers.

Still, Thiry had sev­eral hur­dles to over­come. His com­pany has spent nearly $1 bil­lion in re­cent years to set­tle le­gal fights re­lated to its busi­ness prac­tices in the dial­y­sis in­dus­try. And Thiry’s per­son­al­ity as a cheer­leader CEO was lam­pooned this year on the HBO pro­gram “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.”

Both of those is­sues likely would come up again on the cam­paign trail.

Thiry’s next step could in­clude bankrolling one or more bal­lot ini­tia­tives, sim­i­lar to his work on Propo­si­tions 107 and 108, which changed Colorado’s pri­mary rules. The DaVita CEO has spo­ken pre­vi­ously about sup­port­ing ef­forts to change how Colorado draws its con­gres­sional and state­house bound­aries — an is­sue he once backed in Cal­i­for­nia with a $35,000 do­na­tion.

“Next Novem­ber, there will be crit­i­cal elec­tion choices all across this state,” he said. “Denise and I will plan to ea­gerly sup­port cen­trist can­di­dates, com­mon sense causes and other ef­forts that pro­mote col­lab­o­ra­tive gov­er­nance, and the ideal that prin­ci­pled com­pro­mise in the name of progress is vastly dif­fer­ent from com­pro­mis­ing your prin­ci­ples.”

For now, Thiry is stay­ing out of the gov­er­nor’s race — as he did not en­dorse an­other can­di­date as part of his an­nounce­ment. But in the hours af­ter his de­ci­sion, there al­ready was talk among Repub­li­cans about whether he would use his check­book to help some­one else in the fu­ture.

“I have held onto the dream of run­ning for of­fice since I was 10 years old. That’s why it is with deeply mixed feel­ings that my wife Denise and I have de­cided now is not the right time for me to run for gov­er­nor of Colorado.” Kent Thiry’s state­ment

Kent Thiry’s de­ci­sion ends weeks of spec­u­la­tion.

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