Colorado Republicans put on a united front

The Colorado Statesman

Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez on Tuesday named Douglas County Commissioner Jill Repella as his running mate and the team set out the next day along with his three former primary foes on a “unity tour” of the Front Range.

“Honestly, friends, I think this is the strongest Republican ticket that we’ve seen in over a decade,” state GOP Chairman Ryan Call told a packed Republican campaign office in Lakewood on Wednesday afternoon, introducing Beauprez and Repella on the tour’s fourth stop of the day.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez embraces former primary foe Tom Tancredo at a stop in Jefferson County on a unity tour on July 2.

“We are united in a purpose,” a beaming Beauprez said. “And that is making this state great again.”

Republican lieutenant governor nominee Jill Repella during a stop on a Front Range unity tour on July 2 in Lakewood.

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, the candidate who came in second in last week’s primary, noted that Colorado rarely unseats incumbent governors but told the crowd that he sensed the state was ready to deny Gov. John Hickenlooper a second term.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez, his wife, Claudia, and running mate, Jill Repella, listen alongside Republican candidates as GOP Chairman Ryan Call talks about the strength of the ticket at a unity rally on July 2 at the Jefferson County party offices.

“Something different is happening right now,” Tancredo said. “That is, for the first time in a long time, I’ve had the feeling that something was keeping us from doing our best in the Republican Party in Colorado, but now the wind is at our back, for a change. And that’s happening because we have so much enthusiasm built around this campaign and this candidate.”

Republican attorney general nominee Cynthia Coffman, former gubernatorial candidate Mike Kopp and former state Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, listen to secretary of state candidate Wayne Williams speak at a GOP unity rally on July 2 in Lakewood.

Also this week, the first publicly released poll conducted in the governor’s race after the primary showed Beauprez and Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper dead even, each with 44 percent support. The Rasmussen Reports survey of likely voters, conducted on June 25 and 26, showed that 4 percent of voters preferred another candidate and 8 percent were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 points. (Earlier polling has shown Hickenlooper with wide leads over likely Republican challengers, including Beauprez.)

Secretary of State Scott Gessler talks about the importance of Jefferson County in the statewide vote as he throws his support behind former primary foe Bob Beauprez at a unity rally on July 2 in Lakewood.
Photos by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Jefferson County, proclaimed Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who ran third in the primary, is “a swinging county in a swinging state.” Beauprez will win the governorship if Republicans deliver Jefferson County, said Gessler, who called Beauprez a “good man.”

Former State Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, who came in fourth, said he was fully committed to helping Beauprez win in November.
“The journey doesn’t end if you lose in a primary, the job is winning in the general,” Kopp said.

The tour also included stops in Pueblo, El Paso, Arapahoe, Adams, Larimer and Weld counties. Republican attorney general nominee Cynthia Coffman and secretary of state nominee Wayne Williams were along for many of the stops, as were congressional, legislative and county-level candidates.

While the show of unity among the former primary rivals elicited applause from the several hundred Republicans at the Lakewood stop, it was Beauprez’ introduction of his running mate that brought the biggest cheers.

“As a commissioner,” Repella said, “I have brought forth policies and practices and created a culture in Douglas County where we support the success of businesses coming into our community — they bring value to our citizens, they bring jobs,” she said, noting that the county was ranked the second-fastest county in the nation for job growth last year. “It wasn’t by chance,” she added.

Repella, a fifth-generation Coloradan and single mother of three who lives in Highlands Ranch, is serving her second term on the Douglas County Commission. She was a member of the county’s school board for three years and was on the planning commission before that. She holds a master’s degree in executive leadership from the University of Denver and is a graduate of Colorado State University.

Tuesday was the deadline for Beauprez to designate a lieutenant governor candidate, which the law requires be accomplished within seven days of the primary. His campaign said state Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver CEO Diedra Garcia were among those vetted for the post but that Repella was the candidate’s first choice.

In fundraising reports due Tuesday, Hickenlooper reported that his campaign has $3,115,617 in total contributions and has $579,268 on hand after sinking $1.38 million into reservations for ad time in the fall. Beauprez, who only got into the race in early March, the day before precinct caucuses, reported raising a total of $351,585 and had $34,920 on hand after loaning his campaign $527,000.

If the GOP ticket wins in November, Repella would be the fifth woman elected lieutenant governor in Colorado and the second Republican woman. (Democrat Nancy Dick was Dick Lamm’s lieutenant governor for his second and third terms; Democrat Gail Schoettler held the post during Roy Romer’s third term; Republican Bill Owens picked Jane Norton as his running mate for his second term; Barbara O’Brien was Democrat Bill Ritter’s second-in-command during his single term.)

Kopp was the only GOP candidate to pick a potential lieutenant governor before primary votes were counted, tapping former Pueblo City Councilwoman Vera Ortegon, a Colombia-born microbiologist, a week after balloting had started in the all-mail election.

State Democrats weren’t impressed with the unity tour.

“Bob Beauprez talks about unity but has spent the last eight years spewing divisive rhetoric and right wing vitriol,” said Colorado Democratic Party executive director Jennifer Koch. “From his claims that 70 percent of African American pregnancies end in abortions, to calling immigration reform a ‘cleansing’ process, Congressman Beauprez is full of platitudes but short on Colorado common sense.”

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com

See the July 4 print edition for full photo coverage.