When Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez was putting his campaign together last spring, he made a point of trying to include top staffers from other flailing or near-dead Republican campaigns. This was easier said than done, according to Republican insiders, who say that Beauprez thought he could make a nice stew with a bunch of mismatched ingredients.
What might have seemed a good idea to Beauprez at the time has resulted primarily in infighting, petty posturing, and silly turf wars that are straining the seams of a campaign desperately trying to find some sort of momentum in the closing weeks of the election…and threatening to poison other GOP campaigns along the way.
As Coloradans count down the last two weeks of the 2014 election cycle, rumors of trouble inside the Beauprez campaign have seeped outside of Republican circles. From what we hear, problems that were simmering over paychecks and grievances about who really represented the "top of the ticket" (Beauprez or GOP Senate nominee Cory Gardner) have grown more heated in recent weeks as Beauprez has failed to gain any real traction in his bid to unseat Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.
It's no secret that the Republican Party in Colorado has been scattered in every direction in recent years. The emergence of the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party in 2009 significantly altered the GOP power structure, but upheaval within Colorado Republican circles actually dates back to the bitter 2006 gubernatorial primary between Beauprez and Marc Holtzman.
Beauprez thought he could find some measure of Kumbaya by recruiting a top Holtzman staffer — Ryan Lynch — to join his campaign after State Sen. Greg Brophy ended his campaign and took Beauprez's side during the "Dear God, anybody but Scott Gessler" phase of the GOP Primary (Lynch had been working on Brophy's sputtering campaign for governor).
But Beauprez already had Republican strategist Dustin Olson at the top of his campaign hierarchy, in addition to Communications Director (and son-in-law) Allen Fuller. From what we understand, Beauprez probably screwed up by approving a huge disparity in salaries for the three men. Courting Lynch so insistently probably didn't make the Alpha Males of Team Beauprez feel much better, either.
Campaign finance reports (at left) show that Olson alone collects nearly double the monthly salary of Lynch and Fuller combined. Olson was paid $12,000 at the beginning of October, with Lynch and Fuller each taking home $6,500. Interestingly, Beauprez's reports are careful to note that Olson and Lynch hold similar titles with the campaign; both Olson and Lynch are listed as "Manager and Deputy Managers," a title share that surely makes Lynch feel much better about his bank account.
Adding to the drama has been Beauprez's Lt. Governor running mate Jill Repella (remember her? No?) Repella has made it a point in her "public" appearances with Republican Party faithful to talk about how "proud" she is to be "representing the top of the Republican ticket in Colorado." You could argue whether Beauprez or Gardner truly maintains the "top spot" in Colorado GOP campaign circles, though on a broader scale, the implications of a Gardner victory are much more important for Republicans. This has become a regular source of irritation for Republicans in Colorado, many of whom would probably side with Gardner if they had to choose one or the other.
We don't want to overstate the importance of any of this, but it should not be ignored, either.
You can often tell a great deal about the direction of a campaign based on the mood of the core people involved. This kind of infighting can, and does, happen from time to time, but you usually see it when a campaign has reached its conclusion and the great Monday-morning quarterbacking begins. The fact that these rumors are spilling out now is a bad omen in general for Beauprez's campaign.