Steamboat Springs Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman isn't a comedian, but he had his audience rolling in laughter during a Steamboat Springs appearance Sat--urday.
Holtzman met with area voters for an informal speech at the Holiday Inn, where he presented his political views and answered questions from residents.
Holtzman began the meeting by telling a story about a recent busy Thursday night at a Denver video rental store.
Several months ago, while he was at a Blockbuster video store, Holtzman said a woman told him she recognized him from TV and wanted to ask him some questions about his staunch opposition to referendums C and D.
"She told me, 'Sir, with all due respect, I think I am on the other side of this issue.' All she wanted was to ask me was a few questions, which of course I agreed to," he said.
However, as Holtzman ad----dressed the young woman's concerns, he noticed a man a few aisles away glaring at him through a rack of movies.
"I swear that man's veins were about ready to pop out of his head, he was so agitated," Holtzman recounted Saturday.
As he ended his conversation with the woman, the man shouted, "Young lady, don't let him brainwash you; don't let him do it," and walked away, Holtzman said.
"Even though I couldn't wait to get out of there, I still felt like (C and D) was poor public policy. It was a disaster. To this day, I still feel like that," he said.
Holtzman also told Saturday's audience stories about a visit to the University of Denver campus by controversial filmmaker Michael Moore; about forcing himself to go to a dinner party he hosted for TV news anchor Sam Donaldson; why he would have fired University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill; and his poignant memories of Ronald Reagan, a man Holtzman said changed his life when he was 16.
"I am going to put forth a vision that gets us back to our Reagan roots. Politics is about principles, ideas, values and vision. We're the majority party in this state," he said. "We have the ideas, we have the agenda, and right now, no one is articulating that."
Holtzman focused most of his speech on Colorado's educational systems and problems, saying he wants to make education more competitive at the K-12 level while limiting bureaucratic interference.
"I want to turn this public education system on its head and shake it upside down," he said.
He also addressed his policies on immigration control, which include tightening border control and enforcing state and federal immigration laws.
"There are 4 million people who live in this state right now. Ten percent of them are here illegally. We can't tolerate that. We can't allow a free-for-all. It's not right; it's ridiculous," he said.
Holtzman, who hopes to defeat U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, a fellow Republican, for the right to appear on next November's ballot, said he has no intention of running a campaign that involves mud-slinging. Holtzman said he's not a traditional politician in the sense that he doesn't really have a political strategy or tactic. He said his main goal is to express and articulate the ideas he thinks other Republicans haven't been able to express and articulate.
"After much thought and contemplation, I decided to run for governor because I believe Colorado is at a crossroads. I believe the people in this state are ready for a good leader. I am ready to step up to that plate," he said. "I'm in this for all the right reasons."
Holtzman stepped down from his position as president of the University of Denver after he decided to run. A Colorado resident since 1993, Holtzman worked as a venture capitalist overseas before moving here. Gov. Bill Owens appointed him the state's first secretary of technology in 1998.
""I knew that my experience in education, government and the personnel sector uniquely qualified me for governor of this state at a pivotal time in its history. I want to touch the lives of my fellow citizens to leave this state in better condition than I left it," he said.
Holtzman said he is confident he will win the August primary against Beauprez and the general election in November.
Democratic gubernatorial candidates are former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter and state Rep. Gary Lindstrom, D-Breckenridge.
"Ritter is a good man," Holtz--man said. "I respect anyone who is willing to run for governor and who are doing so because they have a good heart, and they want to make a difference. I would never disparage any of my opponents. I just won't do that."
Steamboat Springs resident Hank Schaffer said he was glad to see Holtzman take the time to visit Routt County, and he agreed with many of Holtzman's positions.
"It's refreshing to hear somebody new articulate these principles. It's really exciting," he said.
Two Steamboat Springs High School students attended Holtzman's speech.
Jake Epley, 18, and Zack Epley, 16, are the sons of Routt County Republican Party secretary Paul Epley. The brothers said they have attended political meetings since they were children to support their father and because they are interested in Republican politics.
"This was the first time I had heard (Holtzman) speak. I was very impressed with his comments because they were well-rounded. I definitely agreed with his views on education and immigration," Zack Epley said.
"I am really glad Marc came here," Jake Epley said. "I really do think something needs to be done about this state's education."
-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail email@example.com