Polls rate gov’s race a tossup
• Making Colorado Great (a political committee backed by the Democratic Governors Association) has run 2,599 negative ads, for $2.1 million, targeting Bob Beauprez.
• Republican Governors Association has run 425 “mixed” ads, for $268,300, targeting John Hickenlooper, and 1,802 negative ads, for $1.3 million, targeting Hickenlooper.
• Hickenlooper has run 2,679 positive ads, for $1.5 million, supporting himself.
• Bob Beauprez has run 502 “mixed” ads, for $89,600, targeting John Hickenlooper, and 856 positive ads, for $537,800, supporting himself.
• Protect Colorado Values has run 165 negative ads, for $112,600, targeting Beauprez.
• Inspire Colorado has run 122 positive ads, for $55,100, supporting Hickenlooper.
• NRA Political Victory Fund has run one negative ad, for $190, targeting Hickenlooper.
Source: The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit group tracking political ad spending.
Gov. John Hickenlooper is a Democrat feeling the heat in Colorado — if you believe the polls.
The latest Quinnipiac University poll a week ago puts former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, the Republican gubernatorial challenger, at 46 percent to Hickenlooper’s 42 percent, with a 3.1 percent-point margin of error. The University of Virginia Center for Politics rates the Colorado governor’s race as a tossup.
The line drawn between Democrats and Republicans is as clear as ever this election season, but the races aren’t as clear blue or clear red as they have been in recent elections. In the 2010 homestretch before the election, Hickenlooper was leading many polls by more than 10 points. He won that election with more than 50 percent of the vote, with ultra-conservative American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo picking up 36.7 percent, and Republican Dan Maes getting 11.1 percent.
Beauprez ran for governor in 2006 and picked up 40.16 percent of the vote, losing to Democrat Bill Ritter’s 56.99 percent.
Beauprez has locked in on what he terms Hickenlooper’s indecisiveness and says that kind of leadership isn’t going to move Colorado’s economy, or any other issue, ahead.
“Colorado deserves a lot better than what it’s been getting,” Beauprez said in a phone interview last month. “Hickenlooper has a passion for kicking the can down the road. A governor should make decisions.”
Numbers show that, for whatever reason, Colorado’s economy is moving ahead. According to U.S. Dept. of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis data released over the summer, Colorado has one of the top five fastest-growing state economies in the country. Business Insider ranked Colorado as the No. 1 fastest-growing economy in the United States, taking into account economic movement in a number of areas such as gross domestic product growth, working-age populations, unemployment, housing prices, average annual wages and auto sales.
It’s a point Hickenlooper is touting as Election Day nears. The governor has said he won’t run negative campaign ads, and commercials depict the former Denver mayor as a man who brings both sides together — a man of the people. Hickenlooper said at the September Club 20 debate in Grand Junction that he always chooses “the Colorado way.”
Beauprez criticizes the governor for that approach, though. He loves to sit down and talk with people, but “he just seems to have a real problem with leading,” Beauprez said.
Hickenlooper supporters would disagree, pointing to the governor’s leadership through crises such as the Aurora movie theater shooting and the historic flooding that hit the Boulder region last year. The Denver Post endorsement for Hickenlooper mentions those emergencies, as well as historic wildfires, as proof that he’s a “first-rate leader and crisis manager.”
Hickenlooper has lauded his successes in recent debates, pointing to the Business Insider ranking, as well as other statistics like the state’s budget reserve fund, which stands at just about $600 million, or 5 percent of the total general fund. It was as low as 2 percent during the recession. Hickenlooper signed a bill in April that will increase the reserve fund, also known as a rainy-day fund, to 6.5 percent of the budget. Hickenlooper also touts the state’s job creation success under his watch.
And Hickenlooper said he’s put four times the number of Western Slope representatives on his Cabinet as any other governor in history — a point he made as a rebuttal to Beauprez’s claim that Hickenlooper governs the state as if he’s still mayor of Denver.
The gun laws that Hickenlooper signed didn’t represent Western Slope values, Beauprez said. Hickenlooper has publicly stated that he “screwed up” in signing a bill limiting ammunition magazines — and apologized to Colorado sheriffs after telling them at the biannual meeting in Aspen in June that he wasn’t aware they wanted to meet with him in 2013 before he signed three gun control laws. He added that he felt conflicted about the bills at the time.
It’s another example of indecisiveness, according to Beauprez, as is Hickenlooper’s decision to grant death row inmate Nathan Dunlap a reprieve rather than take a stance and either grant him full clemency or let him be executed.
Hickenlooper said in last week’s 9News debate that he would let the next governor make that final call.
As for no negative advertising, political groups have been running attack ads against both candidates. They responded to criticism about that at the 9News debate last week.
Hickenlooper avoided addressing the Democratic Governors Association ads directly, but said attack ads are corrosive in general.
Beauprez didn’t apologize for ads being run by conservative groups against the governor because the ads are “based on facts,” he said.
Beauprez has run 502 “mixed ads” against Hickenlooper, and 856 positive ads, while Hickenlooper has run 2,679 positive ads, according to The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit group tracking political ad spending.
As for the issues, the candidates have blasted each other when given the chance, usually in debates and newspaper articles. Some of the easy fires have been at Beauprez for his support of a 2003 ballot measure that Hickenlooper calls “the last big water grab from the Front Range,” which Beauprez defends as a water storage project.
Beauprez has honed in on a common conservative sentiment that regulation is excessive under the Democratic governor, and Democratic groups have run the obligatory attack ads on Beauprez’s stance on abortion and women’s issues.
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