Who’s Running with Beauprez?

Lost in the hubbub surrounding tomorrow’s primary election is the news that Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez has only seven days after the primary to choose a running mate and lieutenant governor. The Denver Post speculates on a couple of different names for Beauprez’s sidekick, but here’s my prediction: Mike Coffman.

But isn’t Coffman running for secretary of state (SOS) opposite Democrat Ken Gordon? He is…for now.The talk for most of the last year had been that current SOS Gigi Dennis would be Beauprez’s running mate, but that was before she got involved in the gubernatorial primary by declaring Marc Holtzman ineligible for the ballot for failing to collect enough petition signatures. Dennis can’t be added to the ticket now, because the whole thing would stink of a back room deal that would provide Beauprez with a ton of bad press.

Dennis was appointed as SOS last summer after Donetta Davidson, the elected SOS, resigned to take a job in Washington D.C. At the time, Dennis left a $108,000 per year federal job to take the SOS gig, which pays only $68,500. She announced in March that she was not planning to run for re-election, paving the way for Coffman – the current state treasurer – to have the Republican nomination unopposed. Dennis was thought to be a logical choice for lieutenant governor before, but speculation only increased when she backed out of the SOS race because, well, what else was she going to do? It’s hard to believe she would have left a well-paying federal job for a one-year lease on a statewide office in Colorado without some sort of backup plan.

Coffman, on the other hand, was briefly a candidate for governor in early 2005 – a seat that is thought to be the end of his own personal rainbow – before he saw the writing on Beauprez’s wall and dropped out. If Coffman runs as Beauprez’s lieutenant governor, and Beauprez wins, he’ll be the logical choice to be the Republican nominee for governor when Beauprez’s term ends. He could still run for governor down the line as an incumbent SOS, but being the current lieutenant governor is an easier leap.

If Coffman runs with Beauprez, Dennis can then run for re-election to the SOS with the benefit of incumbency, tying things up into a neat little bow for Republicans.

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Jason Bane

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