Make Room in the Clown Car for Bob Beauprez

Who wants to be Governor of Colorado?

Move over.

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.

Both Ways Bob Beauprez

Both Ways Bob Beauprez (right).

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.

Red State’s Erick Erickson: Draft Beauprez For Governor

UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

“I heard he was thinking about it again,” said Tancredo. “I told him to get in. He is a friend and a good guy.”

Tancredo and Beauprez served together in Congress. Despite their friendship, Tancredo said he never said he would drop out of the crowded GOP race if Beauprez got in. Tancredo is one of at least seven Republicans running for the GOP nomination for governor…

2006 was a fabulous year for Colorado Democrats, but [Erickson's] statement overlooks Beauprez’s questionable performance as a candidate. Most of Beauprez’s wounds were self-inflicted, say political watchers, and raised questions about Beauprez’s ability to lead. Beauprez lost to Democrat Bill Ritter by 17 percentage points.

—–

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

One of the premiere "thought leaders" of the conservative blogosphere, Erick Erickson of Red State, throws down hard for a Bob Beauprez campaign for Colorado governor in 2014–unrepentantly at the expense of the current large pack of candidates already in this race. Excerpt, though the whole piece is worth reading and sharing with your Republican friends:

There are seven people running for the Republican nomination for Governor of Colorado. None of the seven have shown an ability to unite the Colorado GOP. None have shown the ability to win the tough race. None have shown the ability to raise the significant money they will need for a very tough race. None even seem to have a very strong, statewide grassroots network of support.

The frontrunners in the Republican primary include Colorado Secretary of State, Scott Gessler and former Congressman, Tom Tancredo. Both Gessler and Tancredo have high hurdles in terms of electability. Gessler has a series of ethics mishaps that are sure to be the basis of relentless attack ads and Tancredo ran four years ago for Governor as a third party candidate and lost handily.

It is time Colorado Republicans and the rest of us who can help get out and draft former Congressman Bob Beauprez for the nomination. Bob Beauprez can win tough races. Beauprez famously won the newly-added 7th Congressional District in Colorado by 121 votes in 2002 (less than one-third of a vote per precinct) then easily won reelection in 2004 in the district that a Republican hasn’t come close to winning since.

It is true that Beauprez ran for Colorado Governor in 2006 and lost in a year that was devastating across the map for the GOP. But Bob has stayed in the conversation and is highly respected across Colorado… [Pols emphasis]

As we've said, Beauprez's presence on the margins of both the Republican gubernatorial and U.S. Senate primary races is more about the weaknesses of the present candidates in those races than Beauprez's personal viability as a candidate. It's enormously damaging to the other candidates in both of those races each day that Beauprez lurks on the periphery. The rumors surrounding the possibility of a Beauprez 2014 campaign have trended toward a run for Governor as opposed to Senate. As GOP despair grows over the inability of the current candidates to defeat Gov. John Hickenlooper, it becomes less a matter of a savior as saving face–preventing collapse at the top of the ticket to give downballot candidates a better shot. And apparently, Beauprez can still charm people outside Colorado, either old Washington buddies or folks who don't know him or our state very well.

Above all, Erick Erickson's ringing endorsement of Beauprez didn't happen by accident. The likelihood of a Both Ways Bob reprise in 2014 is growing swiftly.

“Money Badger”–Gessler/JBC Conflict Escalates

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

The story of Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's multimillion-dollar budget shortfall, and subsequent battle with the powerful bipartisan Joint Budget Committee seeking taxpayer funds to cover it, escalated dramatically this week. As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

A simmering feud between Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler and the Joint Budget Committee erupted again this week over letters from Gessler accusing lawmakers of "political posturing."

But two members of the JBC — Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, and Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen — said the Republican secretary of state is the one playing political games.

"I'm disgusted, totally disgusted by the tone, the rudeness, calling us liars," Gerou said Thursday. "He doesn't sound like a governor." [Pols emphasis]

Late Monday, after we last visited the story, Gessler responded to the Joint Budget Committee with an angry letter accusing the committee of all manner of slights against him, both procedural and personal (embedded after the jump via the Colorado Independent).

“I am sorely disappointed with your committee’s behavior,” Gessler writes to open his letter, and “I am frustrated that the committee squelched any opportunity to directly discuss these issues with me.

He argues, as he has in the past, that his budget was thrown off, not by his decision to slash fees on businesses and nonprofits, but by an election-reform bill passed last year by Democratic lawmakers that has overburdened his office.

Just a year ago, he says,  “we carried a comfortable $1.9 million surplus. But… the legislature shoved through a partisan election bill that severely damaged our budget.”

But as the Durango Herald's Joe Hanel ably reported in January, that's just not the case. Gessler slashed fees on businesses to a much greater extent than was necessary to keep his office's former surplus within allowable limits. While a tempting idea for a politician seeking higher office, Gessler's fee cuts are the real reason his office ran into the red implementing House Bill 13-1303, last year's election modernization bill endorsed by and authored in consultation with county clerks from both parties. Gessler "severely damaged" his own budget, long before this bill was ever introduced. As fellow Republican Rep. Cheri Gerou makes clear above, nobody's buying Gessler's political posturing–and Gessler is the one doing the posturing.

Bottom line: Gessler is wildly overplaying his hand by getting snooty with the JBC, and the absolute last thing he needs now is to incur the open wrath of powerful fellow Republicans on fiscal responsibility as he battles Tom Tancredo, Greg Brophy, and those other guys for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. But to be honest, this boorish, thin-skinned combativeness may just plain be who Scott Gessler is at the end of the day.

Gessler reportedly likes being called "Honey Badger," but "Money Badger" may not go over so well.

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Big Line Update: Brophy Moves Up

Following the first Republican Gubernatorial debate earlier this week (which we live-blogged), we're shuffling the deck at the top of the Governor Line.

While Tom Tancredo and Scott Gessler declined to attend the debate, we still see them as the frontrunners for the GOP nomination. But the second tier has a new leader: Sen. Greg Brophy. His strong performance in the GOP debate made him stand out significantly from former state Sen. Mike Kopp, whom we had previously listed as being on the heels of Gessler and Tancredo.

Greg Brophy leads the second tier

Brophy, left, outperformed the other three Republicans at Tuesday’s GOP debate.

While Brophy performed well in the debate, Kopp was downright awful. One debate does not a candidate make, of course, but this was the first chance the public had to see of Kopp, and perception matters a great deal in politics. Kopp was surprisingly ill-at-ease and unprepared for many of the questions. One of the more telling lines from Kopp was a reference to his claim that he has broad Republican support. "[Former U.S. Senators] Hank Brown and Bill Armstrong will support me," said Kopp. Armstrong has officially endorsed Kopp, but Brown has not — perhaps waiting to see what he does with his campaign before lending his name. It may be that many Republicans expected more from Kopp and have not seen it (Kopp had a pretty weak first fundraising quarter).

Regardless of what happens with Kopp, Brophy has seized the spotlight on the GOP side as we near the Republican caucuses, and that momentum gives us cause to move him up on the Line.

Live-Blogging GOP Gubernatorial Debate

*NOTE: Unless something is in quotations, everything here is paraphrased in order to post quickly.

 

INITIAL REACTION:

Brophy was the clear winner here, and it wasn't close. He was much more at ease and friendly, and he spoke to specifics much better than any other candidate. Based on this debate, he's the only one of the four candidates who you could conceivably envision being Governor. Brophy also wisely worked out with House beforehand to back each other up on the question of, "If you don't win the Primary, who would you root for?"

This was an absolute disaster for Mike Kopp, who was already in trouble coming into the debate. When Tancredo and Gessler pulled out of the debates, it created a tiered dynamic in which Kopp fell into the bottom half of contenders. He could have used a strong performance here to show that he belongs among the top tier, but that slot should be filled now by Brophy.

Steve House is a middle-aged white male who has spent his career as a "businessman." He is every bit as drab and boring as that previous sentence.

Jason Clark might be insane. Seriously.

7:32: And that wraps it up.

—–

7:25: Closing statements…

Clark: I went to West Point, so I know how to lead…blah, blah. Talking about Elon Musk wanting to build a plant to build batteries, says he would invite him to Colorado and take him skiing in Aspen.

House: I'm a business leader…snore.

Kopp: This is about the citizen's process, not about the candidates. Our state has been let down. John Hickenlooper is a nice man, but he has let us down. My philosophy is empowering people. Giving power back to people. "We're supposed to be free."

1. Build a booming economy around low taxes

2. Cut Government

3. Fight against federal government

4. Fight against Obamacare

5. Start a Unicorn farm

Brophy: I am the only candidate who has been to all 64 states. I've been fighting for energy companies my entire life (that's going in a commercial if Brophy ends up as the nominee). We're going to have a world-class education system, great economy….

Basically, if you elect any of these four men, everything will be good and nothing will be bad.

—–

7:22: If you can't win, who would you like to see win?

Brophy: Steve House, because of business experience.

Clark: That's a rhetorical question, because I'm going to win. I don't play for second place. Clark is like a walking late-night infomercial.

Plunkett prods him to answer the question. Clark finally says, "Nobody."

House: Brophy. Sounds like House and Brophy have a nice alliance.

Kopp: "Scott."

Room is quiet, waiting to see if he'll say more. He doesn't…for a moment. Was talking about Scott Gessler. Was that a joke???

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Gessler v. Tancredo! Twitter debate TODAY at 11am

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 17th, 2014
CONTACT: Peter Boils, @PeterBoils via Twitter, or email peterboilsco@gmail.com

DENVER: Denver’s most dangerous radio personality, @PeterBoils, invites the public to join the two true leaders in the 2014 Colorado gubernatorial race–@FalsoTancredo & @NotScottGessler–in a virtual twitter debate Tuesday, February 18th at 11:00 AM MST. Tune in on the only stations that matter: #COpolitics and #NoShow

“Refuse to bow to the lamestream media,” said combative radio personality Peter Boils. “We’ll debate the real issues that really matter to real ‘Mericans, such as ‘why shouldn’t we shut down the government?’ ‘Who let all these immigrants in our state?’ ‘Who supports Personhood the mostest?’ And the most important question on the mind of every real American: ‘If we can’t impeach Obama, can we at least deport him?’”

“Greg Brophy says I’m not prepared to be governor, but the truth is, I was just waiting for the right moment,” said former Republican, then American Constitution Party, and now born-again Republican gubernatorial candidate @FalsoTancredo. “With Twitter, I can take the time to think about my answers and avoid self-inflicted wounds. Except they’re not self-inflicted, Democrats inflict them. Either way, this is going to be great!”

“After hearing that @FalsoTancredo has pulled out of real-life debates, I realized that hiding from the voters for as long as possible is actually a great idea,” said @NotScottGessler. “The most important thing in any campaign is to not let people see your true colors until it’s too late. Wait, did I just say that?”

“Tune in tomorrow,” says Boils, “and hear what every true conservative wants to hear from these two great leaders. Which is, naturally, whatever conservatives want to hear!”

Who: @PeterBoils, @FalsoTancredo, @NotScottGessler, with possible appearance by @BothWaysBob4CO
What: The REAL debate for Colorado
Where: The Twitters: #COpolitics & #NoShow
When: 11am MST
Why: For Liberty!

Money Badger don’t care

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: Despite earlier news reports, there is apparently no meeting of the Joint Budget Committee and Scott Gessler occurring today. We'll update when we know what the deal is.

—–

POLS UPDATE: The long-awaited showdown between the Joint Budget Committee and Secretary of State Scott Gessler over his office's big budget shortfall is scheduled for later today. Lest anyone think this is simply a partisan squabble, here's GOP Rep. Cheri Gerou criticizing Gessler's fiscal irresponsibility in no uncertain terms:

GEROU: When he came into office, I believe there was a pretty good cash fund balance. And it just seems like we've been dealing with two years of spending, spending, spending, that we've gotten to this point.

We'll update with coverage from today's hearing. Original post follows.

—–

So much for the “party of fiscal responsibility.”

Colorado’s Secretary of State Scott Gessler has never been one to play by the rules. Since taking office in 2011, Gessler has faced scandal after scandal over his own efforts to tilt the playing field to his and his party’s advantage. Gessler is the only statewide politician in office today in Colorado who has been found by the state’s Independent Ethics Commission to have “violated the public trust for private gain.”

Now we learn Gessler can’t even manage his own department’s budget. After slashing fees on business registrations and other services performed by his office, news reports have revealed that the Secretary of State’s office is millions of dollars in the red. Gessler blames political opponents, but these were his decisions. Cutting fees on business is a great way to pander while running for higher office, but taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for it.

Send a message to Gessler right now: tell him you expect better.

Don’t take our word for it. Even the conservative Grand Junction Sentinel [1] says Gessler is wrong to blame others for his own mismanagement:

"Unfortunately for the [Joint Budget Committee], Gessler loves an audience and he will undoubtedly use the grandstand the budget committee is providing him to loudly proclaim his victimhood. But the JBC holds the higher moral ground in this dispute. Gessler got himself into this predicament by sharply cutting business fees for his cash-funded office, when his office had a large surplus several years ago, refusing to put a portion of the surplus into the state general fund as lawmakers demanded."

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Gessler spurns Feb. 18 Denver Post debate but won’t rule out primary debate on conservative talk radio

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Republican gubernatorial candidates Scott Gessler and Tom Tancredo have said they won't participate in primary debates, but Gessler changed course slightly Thursday, telling KHOW host Mandy Connell that he wouldn't rule out a talk-radio debate organized by Connell.

Connell: Scott, let's just say, if I were to have all the candidates on the show at the same time, would you participate in that, on the air? I mean we could really get into some issues.

Gessler: Maybe. Probably not at this point. My focus really is on the convention. You know, I have an election coming up on April 12, and that is the state assembly to get access to the ballot to be nominated to the Republican-primary ballot. So, my focus and strategy is, reaching out to the people who participate in that, whether it's in big groups, media, as well as individual. And so I can't tell you it would fit within that approach, but we'll talk. I won't rule it out. [BigMedia emphasis]

Connell: There will be donuts, Scott.

Listen to Gessler tell KHOW he won't rule out talk-radio debate 2-6-2014

Connell and other conservative talkers have the ear of the exact group Gessler says he wants to reach: Republican primary voters. KHOW and KNUS are obviously in the "media" category that Gessler mentions above. So, Connell is in a position to exert some serious pressure on Gessler and Tanc.

The question is, will Connell push the issue (maybe offer lox and bagels in addition to donuts?). If not, will KNUS' Dan Caplis, who's said on air that he hopes to have candidates debate on his show, push the radio-debate idea? Connell seems pissed, as you can see below from her Feb. 6 show, so maybe she'll persevere:

Connell: I hate this decision [not to debate]. I'm not going to lie. I don't like it… Isn't there any part of you that thinks you're doing a disservice to voters on this?

Gessler: I'm spending my time elsewhere reaching out to voters in a pretty intensive way. And by the way, I'm happy to send you my schedule. You're welcome to come, and ask me any tough question you would like.

Connell: I will. You better be careful what you invite, Scott, because I will come.

Connell should up the ante and put a KHOW all-candidate event on Gessler's schedule.

“If you can’t take on Lynn Bartels and Kurtis Lee right now, how on Earth are you going to take on John Hickenlooper in September?”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

rmgobrophy

​Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Brophy took a playful swipe at Denver Post reporters Lynn Bartels and Kurtis Lee yesterday, saying on a Denver radio station that if Scott Gessler and Tom Tancredo "can't take on Lynn Bartels and Kurtis Lee right now, how on Earth are [Gessler and Tancredo] gong to take on John Hickenlooper in September?"

On KNUS' Mandy Connell show, Brophy was making the point that Gessler and Tancredo, who say they won't participate in primary debates, including a Feb. 18 debate sponsored by The Denver Post, should subject themselves to tough questions now, to prepare themselves for battle with Hick, if one of them wins the primary and faces Hick.

Brophy, for example, referred to questions about Tancredo's broken term-limits pledge and his support for gun control, and Gessler's eithics troubles and problems with his office budget.

I'd rather have trained journalists (Bartels, Lee) asking Tancredo questions about term limits, for example, than a geologist (Hick), who's known to be too nice. That's why debates are moderated by journalists! They're the smart ones in the room.

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Caplis reminds Gessler that talk-radio interview is nothing like a candidate debate

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

I was worried that the re-constituted Dan Caplis radio show (minus the occasional left-leaning questions from Craig Silverman) would turn out to be a combination of ritualistic chest-thumping and high-school cheerleading for Colorado Republicans.

But Caplis isn't giving his GOP guests complete cheerleader treatment.

For example, Caplis has been trying to convince GOP gubernatorial candidates Scott Gessler and Tom Tancredo, both of whom have refused to participate in Republican primary debates, to reconsider and do the debates.

And when they offer up lame excuses, Caplis calls them on it. For example, see this exchange on Caplis' KNUS 710-AM show this moring:

Caplis: At the end of the day, what I am asking, as a consumer, is 'Hey, if you are not going to participate in these debates, I hope you spend whatever time you need to refining your skill set. You're a really talented guy, but whoever the nominee is, they are really going to have to do well in these debates to expose the true John Hickenlooper.

Gessler: Here's what I will give you as a suggestion. Invite me on your radio show, and ask me tough questions. And I think I'll respond pretty well.

Caplis: I just think it's a different dynamic live under the lights with your opponent who is trying to duck and weave, etcetera. But, hey, nobody who knows you would doubt your abilities. I think it's just a matter of training for this particular big event.

Listen to Caplis tell Gessler that his talk radio show isn't like a candidate debate 2.6.14

Okay, it's a bit like a cheerleading session, but still. Caplis gets credit for having enough self-awareness to know that conservative talk radio isn't, in the actual real world, like a candidate debate, which takes place out of the echo chamber with moderators and even, gasp, real people possibly asking questions.

But, if Caplis does take Gessler up on his offer to practice debating on KNUS, one wonders if Gessler would allow his opponents to call the Caplis show for a little candidate-versus-candidate on-air chit chat.

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Bob Beauprez Getting Close to Running…for Governor?

UPDATE: One of the first things Bob Beauprez will need to answer for as a gubernatorial candidate is his glowing praise in 2010 for prospective 2014 opponent Tom Tancredo. Check out this video we were just forwarded of Beauprez introducing Tancredo at a 2010 campaign event:

Apparently, things have changed.

—–

Both Ways Bob Beauprez

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez really, really, really wants to run for elected office again. Beauprez has wanted to jump in a high-profile race ever since 2006, when he ended his bid for Governor by losing in a landslide to Democrat Bill Ritter. It wasn't just that Beauprez lost in 2006 — it goes much deeper than that. Beauprez's 2006 campaign for Governor is widely considered the worst statewide campaign in the history of Colorado, and many Republicans have never forgiven him for not only botching that race, but for giving up his incumbency as a sitting member of Congress in CD-7 (a seat that Republicans have never even come close to reclaiming since Ed Perlmutter won the open seat in 2006). Beauprez has comically (and sadly, on occasion) tried floating his own name for Senate or Governor in the years since his 2006 debacle, but his fishing expeditions have been about as successful as casting a line in his bathtub.

Nevertheless, rumors are growing that Beauprez has moved beyond the stage of looking longingly at a statewide race — and into a new position of preparing to make his candidacy official…for Governor.

Yes, Governor.

Beauprez has seen the polling numbers on the Governor's race, which show Tom Tancredo as an incredibly weak frontrunner on the GOP side. Beauprez has seen the anemic fundraising numbers, with Tancredo outraising other Republicans but also spending more money than he raised in Q4. The Gubernatorial race probably looks pretty enticing to Beauprez, who has one major advantage: He can self-fund a campaign and quickly expend more resources than his fellow GOP candidates who are restricted by the low contribution limits for Governor. Yet, we are still surprised to hear that Beauprez is leaning towards running for Governor because of that one giant albatross from 2006; Republicans have been there and done that with Beauprez before, and it was an absolute disaster.

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Hickenlooper’s Numbers Rebounding, Says New Q-Poll

hickandoppo

Welcome news for Democrats today in Quinnipiac University's latest polling of the Colorado gubernatorial race:

Colorado voters approve 52 – 39 percent of the job Gov. John Hickenlooper is doing and give him comfortable leads over possible Republican challengers, but are divided 45 – 45 percent on whether he deserves reelection this November, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. 

This is the first registered voter survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University in which Gov. Hickenlooper's approval rating tops 50 percent. There is a wide gender gap as women approve 60 – 29 percent while among men 44 percent approve and 48 percent disapprove. Approval is 84 – 6 percent among Democrats, but Republicans disapprove 63 – 28 percent. Independent voters are divided as 45 percent approve and 46 percent disapprove…

"His team may have tanked in the Super Bowl, but Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper gets a bit of good news in improving approval job numbers as no serious challenge to his reelection has been mounted yet," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. 

"Voters are divided on whether they want to give Gov. Hickenlooper four more years, but they aren't rallying around any potential challengers. They give the gov a 47 – 37 percent favorability while former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo gets a negative 25 – 31 percent favorability."

Gov. John Hickenlooper's re-elect number in this latest poll, split 45% each way, shows there is still lots of work to be done between now and the next election shoring up his standing among the full electorate. With that said, Hickenlooper's overall approval back over 50%, combined with the lack of a credible opponent, is an encouraging development for his campaign. In November, a plurality said Hickenlooper did not deserve re-election by 49-42%, so clearly his approval is on the rebound. And crucially, Hickenlooper beats every potential Republican opponent by at least 6 points in a poll with a margin of plus or minus 2.9%–meaning he is outside the margin of error against them all.

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There Will Be No GOP Gubernatorial Primary Debates This Year

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

​As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

Secretary of State Scott Gessler is the latest Republican candidate for governor who won't participate in GOP primary debates or forums.

Gessler's campaign this week said he wouldn't attend a debate sponsored by The Denver Post on Feb. 18, and other candidates said he hasn't been at forums in recent weeks.

Last December, former Congressman Tom Tancredo said his campaign decided to nix primary debates, believing they only give Democrats fodder for the general election…

Obviously, the two frontrunners in the Republican gubernatorial primary announcing that they won't participate in debates or candidate forums puts an end to the prospect of them for all practical purposes. Make no mistake, this is a very significant development, at marked variance with recent primaries. In 2006, Bob Beauprez debated Marc Holtzman. In 2010, Scott McInnis even debated opponent Dan Maes, who went on to win the GOP nomination after McInnis imploded in a plagiarism scandal. We'd have to go back to the pre-Bill Owens era for more examples, because we're pretty sure he debated Republican primary opponent Tom Norton back in 1998 as well.

Tom Tancredo.

Tom Tancredo.

​The point is, it's really weird to have a gubernatorial primary in Colorado with no debates. Under no circumstances should the campaigns of Scott Gessler or Tom Tancredo be able to pass this off as business as usual. It is not. And at least one gubernatorial primary contender, Sen. Greg Brophy, is livid about having no chance to directly face his higher-profile opponents. Bartels:

"If you're not willing to get on the stage to debate me and the other guys, how on earth are you going to be prepared to go up against Gov. Hickenlooper?" Brophy said. [Pols emphasis]

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Gessler Slings Red Obama Meat To GOP Primary Voters

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

In a fundraising email today, GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Gessler tries mightily to keep up with the kind of hard-charging rhetoric opponents like Tom Tancredo and Greg Brophy have down pat:

President Obama's State of the Union sounded more like a pep rally full of tired liberal ideas than a real presidential address. But with such abysmal approval ratings, it's no surprise he can't think up anything new to put our country back on track.

Once again, the President wants to raise the minimum wage, limiting the growth of small businesses and jobs. And then he wants to close Guantanamo Bay – a reminder that he respects the Constitutional rights of terrorists more than he does for us Americans. [Pols emphasis]

And of course he hinted at gun control and his persistent crusade to strip us of our Second Amendment rights. Mr. President, no matter how hard you try, there's no way I'd ever let your gun grab happen here in Colorado.

Wow! It's almost regrettable to point out that we passed as much "gun grabbing" in Colorado last year as Obama could ever realistically expect. But it's not like you're going to be quibbling about that after being "reminded" that President Barack Obama "respects the Constitutional rights of terrorists more than he does for us Americans!" If that doesn't get a Tancredo fan's juices flowing, we don't know what will. We suppose he could have asked for a long-form birth certificate.

You'll be pleased to know that Gessler does eventually mention his would-be general election opponent, Gov. John Hickenlooper, in (we are not making this up) the very last sentence of the email, seemingly as an afterthought:

As your governor, I promise that Colorado will stand up to President Obama to protect our economy and our rights. Stand with me to help me defeat Gov. Hickenlooper and give Colorado back its voice.

But for today, Gessler isn't running against Hickenlooper at all. A good message, Polsters?