[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Republican field assembled to unseat U.S. Senator Mark Udall in this year’s midterm election is already crowded, which is the polite way to describe it. In watering holes around the Capitol in Denver, the race is more commonly referred to as a political “clown car”: sharpen your guesses about who might climb out from one week to the next and you can manage to eat and drink well on a legislative staffer’s salary.
The race now includes four candidates and may soon draw another, former Colorado Congressman Bob Beauprez, who had been flirting with the idea of running for some time but who has recently gone quiet on his plans.
“I haven’t said no. I’m going to watch these next couple of weeks very carefully and see what happens,” Beauprez on Wednesday told the Christian-right American Family News Network site OneNewsNow.
“My guess is that maybe our field will narrow a little bit as people don’t find the fundraising especially very easy. And you’ve got to have at least enough money to stay alive and have a viable campaign. So we’ll see how things shake out and whether or not there’s a need to get in.”
Beauprez considered a run at Udall in 2008 after running for governor in 2006 and losing to Democrat Bill Ritter.
His comments Wednesday suggest he’s most closely watching the candidacy of Amy Stephens, a Colorado Springs state representative.
Stephens has so far pitched herself as an establishment candidate, touting endorsements from figures such as former U.S. Senator Hank Brown and former Lt Governor Jane Norton, who ran unsuccessfully as the establishment candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2010. Beauprez would come out of the gate competing with Stephens for establishment endorsements and donations. That he’s still weighing jumping into the race suggests he is less than wowed by the Stephens candidacy. That’s probably bad news for Stephens, because Bob Beauprez is probably someone she’d like to have in her camp. Indeed, his OneNewsNow interview was being promoted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee twitter writer.
At this point, Weld County D.A. Ken Buck, a tea party favorite, is generally considered the frontrunner in the race. He defeated Norton in the 2010 primary before losing in a nearly dead heat general election to Democrat Michael Bennet.
State Senator Owen Hill is also running, as is state Representative and rancher Randy Baumgardner.
The Colorado GOP is increasingly divided between so-called liberty or tea party voters and mainstream Republican voters. It’s the tea party activist bloc of the party that since 2010 has shaped politics in the state and decided which candidates make it to the general election.