As we noted earlier today, 2012 Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney has endorsed "Both Ways Bob" Beauprez for Governor. Romney is now the second 2012 GOP candidate to make an official endorsement in a Colorado race this year, following former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's late April endorsement of Congressman Cory Gardner's U.S. Senate bid.
Romney's endorsement of Beauprez may play a role in the outcome of the Republican Gubernatorial Primary, but it probably doesn't do a whole lot in a General Election. However, Romney's support — or, more precisely, a lack thereof — may yet be significant in the U.S. Senate race. Romney's endorsement may not move voters one way or the other, but a non-endorsement of Colorado's Republican Senate candidate would certainly raise eyebrows among reporters — and it's not really a question that Gardner wants to have to answer right now.
In April 2012, Gardner was criticized by Romney's campaign for reneging on a promise to endorse his campaign for President. As Eli Stokols of Fox 31 reported on April 6, 2012:
FOX 31 Denver has obtained an email between two top Romney staffers who call Gardner’s refusal to endorse Romney ‘disappointing.’
The email is written by Rich Beeson, a Colorado native and Romney’s national political director, to Mason Fink, the campaign’s national finance director.
In the email, sent on Jan. 14 with ‘Disappointing’ in the subject line, Beeson writes:
“Cory Gardner (CO-4) committed to endorse Gov. Romney and then backed away because he was scared of getting in a primary. This is very disappointing. He committed to endorse and is now ‘scared’.” [Pols emphasis]
The reason this story is problematic for Gardner is because of the flip-flopper narrative that it underscores. When Gardner made his surprise flip-flop on the Personhood issue not long after announcing his campaign for U.S. Senate, it was a mistake that made it easy to paint Gardner has someone whose political ambition trumps any core beliefs he may have. Just a few weeks later, Gardner fed into that narrative by trying to flip his position on gay rights and the DREAM Act. Gardner thought he could get away with flipping on these issues because he is relatively unknown outside of his Congressional district, but his change of heart on endorsing Romney shows that Gardner's "thumb in the wind" political compass is nothing new for the two-term Congressman.