Beauprez snags endorsements, Gessler blasts GOP opponents

The Colorado Statesman

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez snagged the endorsement of high-profile politicians this week, including winning the support of former GOP presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“As a former governor, I can tell you that Bob Beauprez has exactly what Colorado needs to lead,” Romney wrote in an email sent to Beauprez supporters. “Bob’s unique combination of passion, drive, conservative values and experience will make him an outstanding governor.”

Beauprez was the most prominent Romney surrogate in Colorado during the 2012 presidential campaign — the Republican lost the state by about 5 points to President Barack Obama — and was rumored to be among Romney’s top prospects for a Cabinet post.

Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, pictured here at a town hall at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in 2012 for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, received the former Massachusetts governor’s endorsement this week for his own gubernatorial campaign.
File Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“Bob is committed to the future,” Romney said in his endorsement email. “As governor, he will give struggling Coloradans the opportunity to work. He will reduce spending and streamline state government. He will restore the rights of gun owners and put the welcome mat out for businesses to return. He will improve education by empowering teachers and parents. He will enforce the laws of the people and hold criminals accountable for their misdeeds.”

Scott Gessler, standing next to Bob Beauprez during his victory speech at the Republican Party election celebration in 2010, is now attacking Beauprez and fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo in his fundraising emails.

State Sens. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, who failed to make the GOP primary ballot for governor, and Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, also threw their support behind Beauprez this week. Former gubernatorial candidate Steve House, an Adams County businessman, backed Beauprez earlier this month.

Beauprez shares a slot on the primary ballot with former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, Secretary of State Scott Gessler and former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, R-Littleton. The winner of the June 24 primary will face Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. Mail ballots went out this week to military and overseas voters, and in-state voters are scheduled to start receiving their mail-in ballots on June 2.

Tancredo unveiled a sensational — though not unexpected — endorsement of his own this week, announcing that the candidate would appear at a fundraiser in Aurora with reality TV star Dog the Bounty Hunter and his wife, Beth.

Duane “Dog” Chapman and his entourage joined Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., at a fundraiser for Tancredo in 2010, when the former Republican congressman ran for governor on the American Constitution Party ticket against Hickenlooper and Republican nominee Dan Maes.

Brophy unveiled his endorsement on a radio show on Monday, saying, “I want Republicans to win this November and Bob is the best prepared to win and then govern Colorado back to greatness.”

“I see my role moving forward as the man who can make the case that John Hickenlooper has failed Colorado and stripped Coloradans of their liberty,” Brophy said. “He has pushed Obamacare down our throats while defunding education. Hickenlooper must go.”

Saying she believes Beauprez “is the right man to show John Hickenlooper the door in November,” Roberts announced her endorsement shortly after Beauprez visited the southwestern part of the state as part of his two-week Stronger Colorado Tour. On Tuesday, Beauprez toured businesses on Durango’s Main Street and visited the Horsefly Brewing Company in Montrose.

“Bob understands the needs of our rural communities,” Roberts said in a statement released by the Beauprez campaign on Thursday. “I believe that he will be a governor for the entire state and not just Denver. He will return jobs to our smaller communities and protect our western way of life. Bob is the only conservative choice for Colorado.”

Beauprez also won the backing of the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition after meeting with the group late last week. The organization played a role in last fall’s successful recall of former Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, fueled in part by anger over gun-control measures signed by Hickenlooper last year.

“We are confident that Bob will protect our Second Amendment Rights once he’s elected governor,” said Firearms coalition member Larry Liston, a former state lawmaker. “We’ve listened to all the candidates and Bob is the one who understands the importance of protecting our rights.”

“Republicans are coming together,” Beauprez said in a statement this week, though Gessler sounded a different note in a fundraising email that argued Beauprez isn’t the right candidate to take on Hickenlooper.

Calling Beauprez “a good friend of mine,” Gessler noted that he’s worked for Beauprez’ past campaigns in his capacity as an election-law attorney. (Beauprez represented the 7th Congressional District for two terms before giving up his seat in Congress to run for governor in 2006, when he lost to Democrat Bill Ritter by a wide margin.)

“Bob lost his last bid for Governor by 16 points, even though we won other big races that year,” Gessler wrote in his fundraising email. “That means 16 percent of voters deliberately voted against Bob then voted for every other Republican. We can’t risk that happening again, and especially with the Senate seat up for grabs this cycle that’s not a risk we can afford to take.”

Gessler argued that he has “proven that conservatives can be successful in this state,” pointing out that he’s one of only four Republicans to have won statewide races in Colorado in the last decade. (The others are Attorney General John Suthers, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, who won election as secretary of state before running for Congress.)

“I’ve won swing counties like Larimer, Jefferson, Arapahoe and Adams — counties our Presidential candidates couldn’t even win,” Gessler wrote.

On Thursday, Gessler widened his attack, calling out both Beauprez and Tancredo for losing in the last two gubernatorial elections.

“Should we go with Bob Beauprez — an establishment politician with a track record of losing big races?” Gessler wrote in an email to supporters. “While he was chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, the GOP lost control of the State Senate for the first time in four decades. Then, in 2006, Beauprez lost the governor’s race by nearly 17 points, one of the worse performances by a statewide GOP candidate in the history of the state!”

“That is until 2010…” Gessler continued. “In 2010, Tom Tancredo cost us the governorship and a U.S. Senate seat. He dropped the ‘R’ next to his name and ran as a third party candidate. After he lost, he re-registered as a Republican. How can we trust a guy like that to lead our state, let alone, our party?”

The Beauprez campaign on Tuesday retweeted a mocking tweet by liberal activist Charles Buchanan, who observed that Romney’s endorsement “should win [Beauprez] 47% of the vote,” a reference to Romney’s remarks during the 2012 campaign characterizing the share of the electorate “who will vote for the president no matter what” because they’re dependent on government and don’t pay taxes.

The Beauprez campaign promptly deleted its retweet from the campaign Twitter stream, but not before Buchanan recorded the faux pas for posterity and added, “This is the kind of competence you can expect from Both Ways Bob and his crack staff if elected.”

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com