Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez describes his running mate as a woman of incredible accomplishment, with a passion for children and families – and, as someone who graduated high school at age 16, she’s smart – “scary smart.”
Janet Rowland is also not from Denver – a fact that Beauprez emphasized when announcing his choice from the steps of the state capitol. Or as he put it, “Janet Rowland lives in the real world, outside of the building behind me.”Rowland, a Republican Mesa County Commissioner, lives in Grand Junction on the Western Slope. Elected to office in 2004, she most recently worked as the campaign manager for state Rep. Josh Penry, who last week beat former lawmaker Matt Smith in a tough primary battle for the state senate. Rowland, 43, also was an ardent opponent of Referendum C, which Colorado voters approved last year.
On Monday, Rowland acknowledged her opposition to both Referendum C & D (the latter went down in defeat), but said she wants to put the focus on the future. “Reasonable people can disagree,” she said.
During her acceptance speech, Rowland described her career, first as a stay-at-home mom, raising a family, and then launching a career working with children who are victims of abuse. To the crowd of about 150 people gathered at the capitol she described one case she was involved with while working with family child services in great detail. While visiting a home with three children, ages 4, 2 and 18 months, she witnessed a mother slapping the 18-month old, and saying “I’ll give you something to cry about.” Rowland said she looked inside the family’s refrigerator, and there was literally nothing but ketchup. Not even a dried up piece of cheese, or leftovers. The woman, who worked in a restaurant, got plenty to eat herself, but had little concern about whether her children ate or not, Rowland said. At day care, where the children spent 12 hours a day, they gobbled up whatever they could get their hands on. The mother also left them in the car as she would “carouse” around to her various boyfriends’ houses. Eventually, the children were taken away.
“Bob Beauprez and I find this simply unacceptable,” Rowland said. “Enough is enough. Government can’t [fix this], it has to be the community.”
The anticipation over who Beauprez would choose as his running mate has been building for months. In January, Democratic candidate Bill Ritter selected Barbara O’Brien, who for 15 years was the president of the Colorado Children’s Campaign.
Pundits have dissected the possibilities, including Secretary of State Gigi Dennis, current Lt. Gov. Jane Norton and Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera, who just lost a bid for Congress. On Monday, Dennis was among the dignitaries standing next to the dais at the capitol; Norton introduced Beauprez, saying that she will “treasure forever” her own time as lieutenant governor. Also in attendance were Attorney General candidate John Suthers, state treasurer Mike Coffman, state representatives Joe Stengel, Debbie Stafford and David Balmer – and Rowland’s husband Lance. Outgoing Gov. Bill Owens is out of town.
When Ritter selected O’Brien as his running mate, she stepped down as the president of the Colorado Children’s campaign. But on Monday, Rowland said that she will continue to keep her $51,827-a-year government day job as one of three county commissioners.
During Beauprez’ introduction, he noted that in addition Rowland’s commitment to families and children, she won elected office in 2004 with 67 percent of the vote.
“Being one to never win with that kind of margin of victory, I’m hoping a little of that will rub off on me,” Beauprez joked, eliciting hearty laughter from the crowd. When Beauprez won his first race for Congress in 2002, he beat former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Feeley by just 120 votes
Additional Beauprez/Rowland campaign stops are planned today in Loveland, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction.