The statewide winner of the Republican primary for Colorado governor Tuesday wasn’t exactly the preferred candidate here in largely conservative Garfield County.
In fact, U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, who won the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in November, finished dead last out of the four gubernatorial candidates in balloting among registered Republicans from Parachute to Carbondale.
According to unofficial final results in Garfield County, former Congressman Tom Tancredo was the top vote-getter locally with 844 votes. He was followed by Secretary of State Scott Gessler, 821; former state Sen. Mike Kopp, 788; and Beauprez with 706 votes.
“Obviously, people here felt a little differently,” Garfield County Republican Party Chairman Dave Merritt said. “I know people who supported the other candidates pretty heavily, but Bob Beauprez will have the full support of Garfield County come November.”
Merritt said that Gessler, in particular, had a lot of local support early on, mostly because he was the first candidate to announce last year and made several appearances on the Western Slope.
“People liked what he stood for, and liked him as an individual,” Merritt said of Gessler.
And, “Tancredo has always had a certain base, and that plays well in a four-way race,” he said.
Statewide, 30.2 percent of Republican voters favored Beauprez, followed by Tancredo with 26.7 percent, Gessler with 23.2 percent and Kopp with 19.8 percent.
Elsewhere in the region, Republican voters in Pitkin County, all 472 of them, favored Beauprez with 141 votes, followed by Gessler, 129; Tancredo, 102; and Kopp, 100.
Eagle County Republicans favored Gessler with 609 votes, to 522 for Beauprez, 517 for Tancredo and 431 for Kopp.
Mesa County heavily favored Beauprez with 6,609 Republican votes, to 3,440 for Tancredo, 3,279 for Kopp and 2,688 for Gessler.
“He is a very forward individual, and I think that appealed to a lot of people even though he came to the party a little late,” Merritt said of the nominee.
Beauprez, who lost his first bid for governor in 2006, when Democrat Bill Ritter emerged the winner, did not announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination this go-around until January.
Merritt said his experience should play well with voters in the general election against Hickenlooper.
“With his business background in banking and ranching, and his political background in Congress, I think he’ll be a very strong candidate and not as much a controversial candidate,” Merritt said.
Hickenlooper was not challenged for the Democrats’ nomination, and there were no contested statewide or regional races among Democrats either.
Garfield County Democratic Party Chairman Bob Shivley said he was not surprised by the outcome of the Republican primary for governor.
“It was probably the natural outcome given the choices the Republicans had,” Shivley said. “It will be a tight race, but I think Hickenlooper has the edge.
“He fits more into what people want, and Bob Beauprez still has a lot of those strong conservative tendencies,” he said.
Meanwhile, incumbent Republican Congressman Scott Tipton, who represents Colorado’s Third District, easily survived a challenge from tea party candidate David Cox.
Tipton had nearly 82 percent of the vote to Cox’s 18 percent. In Garfield County, Tipton collected 2,484 Republican votes to Cox’s 642 votes.
Tipton will now face Democrat Abel Tapia of Pueblo in the November election. Tapia was not challenged for his party’s nomination.
“We believe he will be a real strong contender,” Shivley said of Tapia. “He does lack some name recognition, so our charge is to get him out there talking to people.”