Bush visits Colorado to boost Beauprez’s bid for governor
Englewood — President Bush showed he still has clout when it comes to fundraising after supporters had to be turned away from a Wednesday reception for GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, who is lagging behind his Democratic opponent.
Bush said Beauprez needs more than just money, he needs help to make sure Republicans keep control of the governor’s office with Gov. Bill Owens stepping down because of term limits.
“Campaigns are more than just raising money. It helps, don’t get me wrong,” Bush said. “But the next governor is going to need your help turning out the vote. … I want to thank you for what you’ve done and encourage you to support Bob Beauprez and turn out that vote come November.
“And while you’re doing it, make sure we get these congressional candidates back in office, too.”
Two years ago, Democrats picked up two open congressional seats in Colorado and majority control of the Legislature for the first time since the early 1960s. This year, they hope to take the governor’s office and at least one of two open House seats.
Colorado backed Bush in 2000 and 2004 and Bob Dole in 1996. Democrats hope to capture the state’s sizable bloc of unaffiliated voters, who comprise 34 percent compared to 36 percent registered Republican and 30 percent registered Democrat.
Beauprez, a two-term congressman from the Denver suburbs, faces a tough opponent in Democrat Bill Ritter, a former Denver district attorney seen as a moderate. On Wednesday, Ritter reported raising reported more than $225,000 during the second half of September, bringing his monthly total for the month to $425,000 and his campaign-to-date figure to $3.2 million.
Beauprez spokesman John Marshall said Beauprez raised $264,000 during the same period, bringing his total to about $2.8 million.
Marshall said he did not know how much money was raised at the fundraiser, but he said supporters were turned away at the door after they exceeded the 500-person limit at the hotel where the reception was held.
Ritter conceded Bush is a powerful influence even with low public opinion numbers.
“He’s still the ATM machine for the Republican Party. This guy is still going to raise the dough,” he said.
Lame-duck Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., said it has been a tough year for Republicans, including some who have tried to distance themselves from Bush.
“This is not an easy year, but it’s a year when we must have victories. I never have and I never will distance myself from this president,” Hefley told the crowd.
Beauprez and the president have not always seen eye to eye on the thorny topic of illegal immigrants. Marshall said Beauprez wants a tougher guest worker program than the one advocated by the president and Beauprez wants to focus on securing the border before any attempts are made to reform the system.
“He hasn’t been disagreeable, but they haven’t always agreed,” Marshall said.
GOP political consultant Walt Klein said Bush’s visit added prestige to Beauprez’s campaign.
“The president’s numbers in Colorado are not as strong as two years ago, but he’s still a popular figure here,” Klein said.
Klein said he thinks Beauprez was right to wait in responding to attacks from Ritter, saying Coloradans who are willing to vote for candidates from either party usually wait until the last few weeks to decide on which candidate gets their vote.
“The battle has just begun. You can’t win an election in September and early October,” Klein said.
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