As we discussed yesterday, the "Draft Beauprez" nonsense drummed up by Erick Erickson on his conservative blog Red State likely means that Republican Bob Beauprez really and truly is about to jump into the race for Governor; pretending to "draft" a candidate is one of the oldest tricks in the political playbook. Of course, the very fact that Beauprez is even able to enter a top statewide race this late in the game is causing a certain amount of anxiety among Republicans, who see their chances at upending Gov. John Hickenlooper eroding by the day. But with a weak field unable to raise much money combined, it's becoming harder for anyone to dismiss a candidate who can at least self-fund to some degree — even if his last name is Beauprez.
As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reported late yesterday, it seems more likely than not that a "Both Ways Bob" return is just around the corner:
Last month, as Beauprez began making calls to potential donors about a late entry into the governor’s race, speculation ramped up that he was getting in.
And it continues to swirl as Beauprez commissioned a private poll last week that showed him trailing Tom Tancredo and Scott Gessler in the seven-candidate primary field; and he’s reportedly had conversations with a possible campaign manager and other potential staffers.
Sources also indicate that associates of Beauprez and Tancredo had been negotiating a deal — Tancredo would exit the race, then Beauprez would get in — but those talks have since been tabled.
Tancredo told the Denver Post he never agreed to such a deal, although sources offer conflicting reports of the negotiations.
Obviously Tancredo would deny that any such deal was in place — it doesn't do him any good to confirm this, particularly if Beauprez ultimately doesn't run — but this is the kind of thing that Tancredo would be likely to do. Before Tancredo became the American Constitution Party nominee for Governor in 2010, he talked openly about his preference that a strong Republican would run and make his own bid unnecessary. And as Mike Littwin notes in the Colorado Independent, Tancredo seems underwhelmed at the idea of actually being Governor:
On the other hand, there are any number of reasons why Tancredo might drop out. To begin with, there’s the matter of whether he actually wants to be governor. Although Tancredo enjoys running for the job, he has not, over two campaigns, put together anything resembling a credible platform. Instead of working on policy, or participating in debates, he spends his time writing op-eds for sketchy right-wing web sites about impeaching the president.
And then comes the hard work of actually getting on the ballot. In 2010, Tancredo skipped the hard stuff by running on the American Constitution Party ticket. Tancredo is back to being a Republican this time, meaning he has to either draw at least 30 percent of the votes at the GOP convention — and Tancredo is hardly popular with the Republican establishment – or petition his way onto the ballot.
Tancredo's indifference to the job of Governor (or any other elected office, frankly) is something we've heard before; remember, this is the same guy who "retired" from a Congressional seat that was required no actual campaigning to get re-elected (the pre-redistricted CD-6).
But the real question here, of course, is whether Beauprez is actually going to make the move to formally enter the race for Governor. From everything we've heard lately, it seems more likely than not that Beauprez will join the clown car that is the GOP field for Governor. Frankly, Beauprez has dragged this out so long that he almost has an obligation to run; by flirting with the idea, and even commissioning a poll to test his chances, Beauprez has helped further demonstrate that the entire Republican field is terribly weak and incapable of defeating Hickenlooper in November. Beauprez has said that he doesn't think the current crop of Republicans can defeat Hickenlooper, which is the same thing he said in 2009 when he was considering running against Sen. Michael Bennet.
Even if Beauprez doesn't prove to be any better at running for Governor than he was in 2006 (in what was probably the worst statewide campaign in the history of Colorado politics), at the very least he could put resources into a campaign that could have some positive effect on down-ballot Republican candidates looking for GOTV support. Remember the absurd "campaign" of Republican nominee Dan Maes in 2010? Maes was a joke of a candidate who couldn't find the money to do much more than pay himself a salary, and the inevitability of his demise was a significant drag on the entire Republican ticket. If he wins the GOP nomination, Beauprez is unlikely to pose a serious threat to Hickenlooper — but there are other reasons for Republicans to grudgingly support his campaign.