Jeff Hayes, leader of the El Paso County GOP, announced today he’s running for the chairmanship of the state party during an 11:30 a.m. event in Lakewood at the Jefferson County Republican Headquarters.

“Over the past 4 years, I have worked tirelessly in El Paso County to build a robust party infrastructure and professional organization,” says Hays. “As Colorado’s Republican chair, I will bring that same focus and drive to the entire state as we organize, train, and equip Republicans to get elected. Together, we can make Colorado great again. We will win again.”

His supporters at the announcement included Secretary of State Wayne Williams and others from the El Paso party leadership, who introduced him to tell us all why he should have the job soon to be maybe vacated by Chairman Steve House.

House is considering a run for governor, but hasn’t ruled out campaigning to keep his chairmanship. He has already pledged to announce for one or the other, and not campaign for both.

The field for the gubernatorial race in 2018 is already attracting a lot of Republican candidates, with interest from Williams, Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, District Attorney George Brauchler, and state Sen. Ray Scott.

In the party chairmanship race, George Athanasopoulos announced last month that he would campaign for the post whether House ran or not.

We expect the chairman’s race will be a hard-fought campaign, with so much at stake in next year’s gubernatorial race, and expect that other potential candidates are testing the water as well. Stay tuned.