[dropcap]B[/dropcap]ack in January former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez said he couldn’t decide whether to run for U.S. senator or governor of Colorado. Nine months later, in the home stretch of his gubernatorial race against incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper, it appears Beauprez has taken something of a combo approach — bringing federal issues into a race to lead the state, time and time again.
During last weekend’s Club 20 Debate, Beauprez took a remarkably similar approach to the Republican who did end up running for Senate — Congressman Cory Gardner. Like Gardner, Beauprez took every opportunity to link his Democratic opponent to a same-party president whose approval numbers are flagging.
“You and your buddy Barack Obama believe the solution to everything is big government,” Beauprez said.
Denver-based independent analyst Eric Sondermann said all this going federal is probably a marriage between Beauprez’s time as a congressman — four years— and an intentional campaign tactic.
“I assume Beauprez’s calculation is that on a heads-up basis he’ll have a tough time defeating Hickenlooper, but he might be able to defeat Barack Obama,” said Sondermann. “I think it’s a smart political calculation.”
In that federally-minded vein, Beauprez also used the debate to drill Hickenlooper on the proposed Keystone Pipeline. Hickenlooper parried the attack saying, “[T]he Keystone Pipeline is a pipeline that really has very little to do with Colorado.”
Indeed, the Keystone Pipeline would not travel through Colorado and the intense debate about its approval is very much between Congress and President Obama.
In defending the issue’s relevance, the Beauprez campaign again took a national approach, saying that “the Keystone XL Pipeline could help make North America energy independent and … the project would support more than 42,000 direct and indirect jobs across the U.S.”
The Beauprez campaign did not return calls to discuss this federal-meets-state approach to campaign issues, but their website weighs in heavily regarding the expansion of states’ rights in relation to those of the federal government.
In his “Plan to Protect Freedom,” Beauprez argues that states must band together to reclaim power from the federal government in accordance with the 10th Amendment, which — as Beauprez himself outlines in a YouTube video — reserves for the states or the people those powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution. In addition to taking back federal lands and tax revenue, Beauprez proposes formulating a coalition of like-minded, western governors.
This coalition of governors has come up in Beauprez’s campaign before, when Beauprez said that as governor of Colorado he would send the National Guard to the U.S.- Mexico border to deal with the crisis of unaccompanied immigrant children there — if Texas Gov. Rick Perry requested it. Beauprez’s campaign later clarified the statement, saying the troops would only be deployed for humanitarian aid.
A month earlier, Beauprez drew some similar federal issue fire when he suggested that this coalition of like-minded governors ought to band together and take action on immigration enforcement if the federal government doesn’t make moves.
“If they won’t do it, governors ought to be allowed to do it, as Jan Brewer tried to do in Arizona,” Beauprez told 850 KOA host Doug Kellet.
The 2010 Arizona law Beauprez referred to in part instructed police to detain suspect individuals who couldn’t prove their citizenship. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately overturned large portions of the law, which they found to interfere with federal duties.
Beauprez has also kept up the federal rhetoric online, for example in a YouTube video in which he celebrates Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to file suit against the federal government in opposition to the Common Core approach to public education reform.
“We don’t need a federal intervention, a federal government intervention, in our classrooms,” said Beauprez.
Beauprez campaign ads, for example “Lies,” have also aimed to tie Hickenlooper to Obama.
“Lies, manipulation, Obama-Hickenlooper Democrats are lying about Bob Beauprez,” says an ominous, deep-voiced narrator opening that spot.
And in another campaign ad, “Colorado Deserves Better,” Beauprez himself narrates, saying, “It’s always the same with Barack Obama and John Hickenlooper — they promise a brighter future, they keep letting us down.”
In their latest debate Hickenlooper appeared to tap into Beauprez’s predilection for federalizing their race, calling his opponent out on it to deflect Beauprez’s criticism of the governor’s support for the Affordable Care Act/ Obamacare.
After defending Colorado’s approach to implementing the ACA, Hickenlooper shot at Beauprez, “Maybe you should be running for Congress if you want to target federal issues.”
[Still from Bob Beauprez YouTube video]