As Joshua Sharf has already ably recounted, he and I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Rep. Bob Beauprez last Friday. The Republican gubernatorial candidate graciously shared an hour of his time with us and addressed our questions with candor and confidence.
Rather than rehash Joshua’s assessments (too much), I’ll supplement his remarks with some of my own. Beauprez confidently asserted his conservative bona fides to strengthen his case for why he deserves the Republican nomination: his executive experience, his Washington connections, his traditional Colorado values.
I believe the candidate’s assessment is correct that “the governor’s race is ground zero” for reestablishing Republican leadership in other areas of Colorado government, namely the General Assembly. The candidate who can best unite the party around a clear, positive, conservative platform is the one who merits the support of the GOP base. Beauprez made a strong case that he fits that bill, and his experience both as state party chair and of bringing factions together after a tough party primary in 2002 for the 7th Congressional race is strong evidence.
While some have been concerned that his run for the state’s chief executive office has endangered the 7th CD seat for the GOP, he believes that Rick O’Donnell is a strong candidate who keeps the seat winnable and that his own status at the top of the ticket could give Rick 30,000 to 40,000 extra votes “to pull him across the finish line.”
On education issues, I share much of Joshua’s assessment. Whether you like it strictly as policy or not, the 65 percent plan, a statewide accountability measure to determine how much school districts spend in the classroom, figures to be a winning issue, possibly an overwhelming one. His support of school choice, parental intervention during early childhood, and “additional flexibility” within the K-12 system are all highly laudable.
Yet probably because I am the resident education policy geek, I believe he could gain a more realistic view of the teachers union’s interests and how it operates. The union is a formidable, but not insurmountable, opponent to school choice reform and not to be overlooked. But I quibble on this minor point – it is very early in the campaign, and his overall perspective and priorities on education are good.
Like Joshua, I was impressed with how he addressed the immigration issue, citing four specific actions he could take as governor to help shut off the valve of illegals coming to Colorado and absorbing money from state services. I was pleased to see this would be a priority of the Beauprez administration, and many Coloradans likely would share that opinion.
On the budget issue, Beauprez’s opponent has gained momentum by stepping to the forefront in opposition of Referenda C and D, the forever tax increase. But Beauprez himself proved very adamant in our discussion that “C and D fixes nothing… nothing.” He raised the highly valid point that the measures’ proponents are asking for 5 times as much as the state’s actual shortage in the worst-case scenario AND “ratchets up the tax base forever.”
Rather than passing the buck to the taxpayers and “just punting the ball” down the road, Beauprez is putting forward the image of a Republican candidate opposed to the Referenda who is serious about rolling up his sleeves and address an overall systemic change, with “everything on the table.” The question is begged whether a political leader actually will be able to make serious progress on such real serious reform, but it’s a good sign that at least one candidate is talking about it. As Beauprez put it, “When the governor and legislature have the anvil on their heads, they’ll start solving the problem.” I sure hope he’s right.
Beauprez praised the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights – it “has served us well to restraing spending” – but suggested the ratchet mechanism may need to be adjusted as part of a long-term fix. While diehard fiscal conservatives may not appreciate that development, people on the other political side won’t be pleased that he said Amendment 23 should be on the chopping block, too.
Right now, Beauprez is still working to develop the specifics of these budgetary proposals, something that will have to come before he gets too far down the road. His opponent currently has the advantages in the areas of having a detailed plan and using technology as a powerful campaign tool. How much of a challenge that portends to Beauprez’s touted frontrunner status remains to be seen.
Yet in experience, connections within the party, and in the intangible skills that come with campaigning on the stump, Beauprez has a sizeable edge.
One thing our meeting with the Congressman confirmed: while the Democrats still scrounge for someone to carry the gubernatorial banner, Republican supporters can be assured that they have at least one formidable candidate in this race.
Editor’s Note: The Rocky Mountain Alliance looks forward to the opportunity to have a similar conversation with candidate Marc Holtzman. Any endorsement of gubernatorial candidate from this blog will not occur at least until after that point.