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.
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.
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.
We had long assumed that Beauprez would run for U.S. Senate if he ran for anything. He has better fundraising connections for a federal race after serving on the powerful Ways and Means Committee during his time in Congress, and the Republican field seeking the nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Udall is perhaps even weaker than the clown car filled with candidates for Governor. A Senate race also has more potential to attract big outside financial support, because for national Republicans, winning Udall's Senate seat is much more important than knocking off an incumbent Governor in a state where Democrats control the state legislature anyway. And perhaps more importantly, a Senate race is not another race for Governor. It would be much easier for Beauprez to minimize questions about his 2006 train wreck if he were running for Senate; he could say that his background and skills are better suited for a federal race, and that any comparison to his 2006 bid for Governor is an apples and oranges comparison (not that we buy that, but it's a decent narrative).
If Beauprez does enter the Governor's race, it will say a lot about the GOP field's perceived weakness — as well as strengthening the belief that Udall may be close to unbeatable in 2014. If he runs for Governor, Beauprez is essentially saying that he thinks it would be easier to defeat Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2014 than it would be to knock out Udall. We can argue about the logic behind that choice, but there will be no avoiding the obvious question about whether he thinks Hick is more beatable than Udall; it doesn't matter what his answer would be, because Beauprez will say plenty just by choosing to run for Governor.
We have a hard time seeing how Beauprez could end up getting through a GOP Primary for Governor, let alone beating Hickenlooper in November. But that's a question to be teased out later. Whether or not Beauprez can be competitive, his very entry into the race sends a clear message that the rest of the Republican field is terribly weak; it is a weak field, of course, but Republicans don't need to be hearing that from other Republicans.