Oct 292006
 
Authors: J. David McSwane

Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez hasn’t had it easy this election season. He has battled competition within his own party, bad press and an FBI investigation. But the Republican candidate says he remains confident.

“I think my resume is far more diverse, far more balanced, and you don’t have to assume, as you would with Bill Ritter, that I know a little bit about the economy and keeping the state healthy,” Beauprez said in an interview with the Collegian.

Between trips to Denver television and radio stations, Beauprez squeezes in time to talk to a college newspaper. It has been a busy day on the campaign trail. And there is no rest in sight for Beauprez.

Beauprez trailing

With only eight days left until Election Day, it’s crunch time.

Despite being an incumbent Colorado congressman, Beauprez finds himself trailing behind Democratic candidate Bill Ritter by double digits in virtually every poll. A recent poll conducted by Ciruli and Associates, a Denver-based company, shows Ritter leading by 19 points.

John Marshall, Beauprez campaign manager, says that although campaigners are fully aware of the struggle ahead, the polls are not an adequate indicator of the election outcome.

“It’s an imperfect science,” Marshall said. “They’re always going to be wrong.”

He added: “We believe this is an uphill climb, but the ground that’s got to be made up is very doable.”

CSU political science professor John Straayer says it’s an even steeper climb than Marshall acknowledges.

“It puts him in a deep, dark hole,” he said. “That’s an extraordinary gap to overcome in eight days.”

One reason for Beauprez’s struggle to attract the voter turnout he will need on Nov. 7, Straayer says, has been the muckraking culture of this year’s governor race.

The first blow came from fellow Republican Marc Holtzman’s campaign, which coined the now infamous “Both Ways Bob.”

“I think Beauprez went into this contest with a handicap that Holtzman put on him,” Straayer said. “He went in wounded.”

While Holtzman was forced to throw in the towel at the state assembly before officially making the primary ballot, the slogan stuck. And it haunts him still.

“It’s one of those political things that caught on,” Beauprez said. “I obviously think that it’s unfounded. Now, Ritter’s trying to glom on the same.

“It’s the oldest game in politics.”

Ritter, Beauprez under fire

And it’s a game Beauprez has shown he isn’t afraid to play if it means winning the election.

“We’ve got momentum on our side,” he said. “We have exposed what I think is a very weak record for Bill Ritter for the only job he’s ever really held, that being the Denver DA.”

Ritter found himself in a tight spot when the Beauprez campaign discovered that in more than 150 criminal cases involving burglary, assault and other felony charges Ritter plea-bargained with undocumented immigrants – charging them instead with agricultural trespassing. Although the charge is still a felony, it allowed some criminals to evade the criminal justice system, Beauprez said.

“Is that administering justice and preserving public safety?” he asked. “I don’t think so.”

Beauprez used the documents as ammunition in an attack ad against Ritter.

While Ritter did not deny the allegations made in the attack ad, he did manage to turn the tide by pointing out that the records used in the ad could only be obtained illegally – from a database provided only to law enforcement personnel.

The advertisement spawned an FBI investigation, and a Denver Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent has been accused of leaking the documents to the campaign.

Beauprez has denied any wrongdoing and has publicly called the informant a hero for risking his job to expose Ritter’s record as district attorney.

The agent, Cory Voorhis, allegedly took the risk alone, leaving the campaign out of the investigation.

“At no point has CBI or the FBI indicated that we are the subject of the investigation,” Marshall said.

But the investigation has had negative implications for the Beauprez campaign, Straayer said.

“You’ve got somebody who wants to be governor calling somebody who probably broke the law a hero,” he said. “It’s hard to project a positive image when you’re trying to explain everything.”

Beauprez says his first order of business would be to address illegal immigration.

“That needs to be dealt with, and I certainly don’t shy away from that,” he said.

But Beauprez says he intends to focus primarily on issues of transportation, water, education and health care – issues he says will have a profound effect on college students’ futures.

“You’re going to be getting out of school before very long, you and the rest of the students at CSU, and you want to go do something,” he said. “And you need to have an environment that is conducive.”

Referendum C

Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized Beauprez for his opposition to last year’s Referendum C. But he contends that his rejection of Referendum C has been misunderstood.

“We’ve got to do a better job of educating all of our kids, not just a percentage of them, and that’s going to take some dollars, but it’s also going to take some willingness to look at what’s working and what’s not and being willing to fix it,” he said. “I never denied that we needed the money. I would have fixed the problems that got us in this situation in the first place.”

By strongly opposing the referendum and still claiming to support higher education, Beauprez has given some weight to the “Both Ways Bob” contention, Straayer says.

“He opposed Referendum C, but he also said he supports higher education,” Straayer said. “And that leaves him in a weird position.”

University tuition

Beauprez says he wants to take care of the problems that put the state in a predicament in the first place, with regard to higher education. One solution, he says, is to allow institutions like CSU to set their own tuition, for better or worse, without the regulation of the state.

“The reason that I think that makes some degree of sense is it’s providing our universities with flexibility to manage the expense side,” Beauprez said. “I mean they get burdened with costs continually going up and up and up, but the state artificially says they can only charge so much for their services, which is educating students.”

Social issues

Beauprez, who defines himself as a social conservative and a vanguard for Colorado business, has no intentions of keeping his mouth shut.

“I think I have walked the talk, and I have delivered on what I said I would do,” he said. “I don’t expect everybody to agree with me.”

Beauprez is opposed to Amendment 44 – the legalization of small amounts of marijuana.

“I’m absolutely convinced marijuana is a progressive drug that leads to more problems,” he said.

He is also opposed to Referendum I, which would provide more rights for same-sex couples.

“It’s too narrowly written,” he said. “Clearly, they are talking about gay marriage. Let’s discuss that, but let’s make it equitable and applicable to any two individuals, not just two individuals in a so-called domestic partnership with the all rights normally granted to spouses.”

Beauprez takes a anti-abortion stance on the abortion debate.

“Life begins at conception, and we have an obligation in this country to protect life, especially innocent life,” he said.

Beauprez graduated from Colorado-Boulder in 1970 with a degree in physical education. He proudly touts his strong Colorado roots and his success as a both a dairy farmer and bank owner. But it seems his experience as both a congressman and businessman in his home state may not be able to thwart the bad press his campaign has received.

He remains confident, still, saying, “I humbly tell people I’ve lived the American Dream. I think it’s important we make sure that that opportunity is available for those that come after us. That’s why I’m doing this.”

Staff writer J. David McSwane can be reached at news@collegan.com.

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