He had previously served in the Colorado state legislature where he led an opposition to the 1976 Winter Olympics being hosted in Denver. This resulted in the games being relocated to Innsbruck, Austria.
In 1992 he ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate, but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who went on to win the general election and several years later switched to the Republican Party.
Lamm has since turned more conservative and become a critic of various national health care plans, arguing that any such plan is bound to become a black hole of excessive spending unless it is limited to medically necessary coverage. He wanted to ration health care and was nicknamed "Governor Gloom." The CATO institute noted that "Lamm has long been a major booster of euthanasia and in a 1984 speech he spoke of the elderly's "duty to die.""  A critic of mass immigration (a topic which he addressed as early as 1985 when he authored The Immigration Time Bomb), as well as a critic of multiculturalism and political correctness. He is, however, still quite liberal on most things, among other issues on gun control where he is closely associated with gun control advocate Arnold Grossman (author of One Nation Under Guns, and the co-author of Richard Lamm's novel 1988.)