Holtzman Didn’t Do It

In late August, when it first started to look like Bob Beauprez might not be able to close the gap on Democrat Bill Ritter in the race for governor, some in the Beauprez camp began spinning the yarn that if their man lost, it would be because of former gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman.

Since Election Day that talk has only increased, with Beauprez loyalists blaming the failed campaign of Holtzman for negatively impacting his fellow Republican candidate in anticipation of a GOP primary.

Holtzman may be worthy of some measure of blame for Beauprez’s implosion, but how much blame does he really deserve?Less than two weeks before Holtzman dropped out of the race, Rasmussen Reports published a poll showing Bill Ritter leading Beauprez 43-38. In October 2005, The Denver Post published results from a poll showing Ritter with a 42-36 lead over Beauprez. In a period of almost eight months, Ritter’s lead over Beauprez basically stayed where it had begun. 

It wasn’t until long after Holtzman officially dropped out of the race (Holtzman left on June 22) that Beauprez’s campaign really began to crater. On July 13, Rasmussen Reports still had Ritter up 42-37. On August 14, Ritter had increased his lead to 48-39. On September 14, Ritter had grown the lead to 50-33, according to a Rocky Mountain News/CBS4 poll.

Let’s look at it another way. Of all of the major disasters that befell the Beauprez campaign, how many of them happened with Holtzman in the race?

  • It wasn’t Holtzman’s fault that Beauprez foolishly backed the short-lived Amendment 38 to the chagrin of business leaders everywhere.

  • Holtzman didn’t force Beauprez to change his position on more issues than you can count. He certainly called him out on it, but he didn’t make Beauprez waffle.

  • It wasn’t Holtzman’s idea to name Janet “Bestiality Rant” Rowland as his running mate when the only thing anyone knew about her was that she had a real talent for saying stupid things.
  • Holtzman didn’t suggest that Beauprez refrain from revealing a real message or a platform that made any sense (and moving elk around drilling sites does not make any sense).
  • It wasn’t Holtzman’s fault that the Trailhead Group was about as successful as New Coke.
  • Holtzman didn’t tell Beauprez to say on the radio that 70 percent of African-American children were being aborted in the United States.
  • It wasn’t Holtzman who passed on illegally-obtained information used in an attack ad against Bill Ritter. At least we don’t think it was. The FBI will sort that one out.
  • Holtzman didn’t force Beauprez to keep attacking Ritter on his plea bargains even though it was obvious that it wasn’t working.
  • It wasn’t Holtzman who prevented Beauprez from changing his campaign staff when a new approach was badly needed.
  • Holtzman didn’t film the Beauprez ad with him standing in front of a horse’s ass.
  • It wasn’t Holtzman who throttled Beauprez in debates leading up to Election Day.

    The only thing you can really blame on Holtzman is that some Republicans were very angry with Beauprez for the way he dealt with Holtzman. But even if you make that case, Republican anger isn’t why Beauprez lost to Ritter. It certainly didn’t help his cause, but it wasn’t the reason he lost. Beauprez lost by 16 points. Republicans didn’t run from him. EVERYONE ran from him.

    The “Both Ways Bob” nickname was created by the Holtzman campaign, but the nickname stuck because Beauprez really did change his position on a lot of issues (and because blogs helped popularize the name). The shoe fit, which is why Beauprez wore it. Beauprez continually changed his position on a number of issues long after the “Both Ways Bob” nickname was created. He made his nickname worse.

    And let’s not forget that Beauprez didn’t actually have to face a primary election. Holtzman was out of the race nearly two months before the primary. In fact, you can even make a case that Beauprez might have benefited from a primary because it might have forced him to get serious about problems with his candidacy much sooner than he did.

    So, did Holtzman damage Beauprez’s candidacy for governor?

    Absolutely.

    But is Holtzman the reason that Beauprez was blown out by Bill Ritter on Election Day?

    Nope.

    With or without Holtzman, Beauprez would have repeatedly rammed his foot in his mouth. With or without Holtzman, Beauprez still had to come up with a message that made sense and interested voters (which he didn’t do). With or without Holtzman, Beauprez still would have had a woefully inadequate campaign staff.

    With or without Holtzman, Beauprez was a still bad candidate who ran a really bad campaign against a solid Democratic opponent.

    There’s plenty of blame to go around for Beauprez’s failure as a candidate for governor. Most of it should end up right back at the candidate himself.

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    About the Author

    Jason Bane

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