Petitioner’s feet hadn’t even hit the streets before the first newspaper endorsement rolled in for the GOP nominee for governor.

With the big win from the conservative Colorado Springs area is State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who nailed The Gazette’s endorsement on Sunday.

It’s a little early in the process for endorsements, but the Gazette makes an interesting argument that if Republicans want to win the governor’s race, they need to quickly narrow the field and unite behind Stapleton.

The Gazette points out hurdles the GOP candidates will face on the Front Range where the population is booming with millennials, Hispanics and marijuana migrants — also known as likely Democratic voters.

In this environment, Republicans will win statewide office only when they offer exceptionally well-qualified candidates, nominated in nondestructive primaries. They cannot win with candidates beaten and battered by primary fights that make them say and do stupid things to secure special interest constituencies.

But what about Tom Tancredo, who led in the only poll so far conducted?

The Gazette responds:

He is a niche candidate with a single message. A discussion about roads and bridges, water, energy, or state finance, invariably returns to his stark views about federal immigration enforcement.

If Tancredo wins the primary, even his most loyal supporters should know he cannot win the general.

Meanwhile, they heap accolades on Stapleton that include his leadership accomplishments and his fiscally conservative approach to tax spending while protecting pensions.

Republicans have an unusual opportunity to elect a governor this year. Stapleton’s primary contenders would do themselves and their party a favor by selflessly clearing the field and helping him win against the odds.

Read the whole endorsement here. We suspect it will set the standard.