Two weeks to choose: the race for governor of Colorado

By Roxann Elliott

John Hickenlooper is defending his governorship against former Congressman Bob Beauprez, and the whole contest will be put to rest on November 4. Those who haven’t voted by mail have two weeks to decide which candidate will serve as governor for the next four years.

The gubernatorial candidates have been tied in public polls since the campaign began. Here is a brief overview of the major topics and a summary of the two candidates:

The Debates

Hickenlooper has a slight edge in knowing how the governorship operates. While Beauprez often insisted that his first task as governor would be to freeze all regulations unrelated to public safety, Hickenlooper took the opportunity to correct him during an October 6 debate at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

“Constitutionally you don’t have the right, the government can’t freeze these regulations, there’s a legal process you’ve got to go through which is what we’ve been doing for the last four years.”

Compared to Hickenlooper’s unrehearsed delivery style, Beauprez peppers sound bites throughout his responses. At the same debate, Beauprez said, “We’ve gotten into an era where its government on the people instead of of, by, and for the people.”

He’s repeated this sentiment, almost verbatim, in several other debates and campaign appearances. He later went on to conclude one rebuttal with, “I won’t do that in Colorado, the little guys who need a champion, they need a real champion, and you’ll have that in Governor Beauprez.”

Crime

Beauprez has repeatedly criticized Governor Hickenlooper’s handling of Nathan Dunlap’s execution. Hickenlooper has said he doesn’t think government has attained a level of infallibility that would make him comfortable with continuing the execution, but his actions have opened him up to allegations of indecisiveness.

During the October 9 debate in Fort Collins, Hickenlooper claimed that rates of violent crime had decreased during his governorship. Beauprez’s campaign took to Twitter to rebut this statement, as they had for other statements during the entirety of the debate. They cited a homicide trend graph from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Three things should be noted. First, homicide is just one of four offenses classified as violent crimes alongside forcible rape, aggravated assault, and robbery.

Second, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report is a more reliable measure of crime trends. Susan Medina, the Public Information Officer for the CBI, confirmed that the CBI’s statistics are reported to the FBI as part of the UCR. However, the UCR includes additional crimes reported by federal agencies.

Third, the graph in question lists the number of homicides reported, but does not offer population information. That information is available elsewhere on CBI’s statistics site. Per capita homicides rose 6.5 percent while robbery fell 7.4 percent and aggravated assault fell 4.7 percent. This table is also available for 2012 and 2011.

Per capita reports of forcible rape increased 39.1 percent due to broadened reporting. Two offenses were added to the collection of forcible rape data in 2013, and the resultant increase is not a reliable indicator of trends.

Economics

Beauprez continues to pursue a line of rhetoric that acknowledges Colorado’s gains while insisting those gains could have been stronger. He often sites Utah’s impressive economic growth under Governor Gary Herbert, attributing that state’s success to slashed regulations.

Indeed, Utah ranks fourth compared to Colorado’s position at seventh in percentage of job growth from according to statistics compiled by Arizona State from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their recovery after 2008’s recession was much faster and stronger than many states due, in part, to factors that existed before the recession.

Utah did not have a law, such as Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights amendment, limiting the amount the state could collect in taxes. As such, Utah had a surplus of funds to invest in construction and infrastructure after the market dipped.

In this arena, Beauprez relies on a line of reasoning that relies on suppositions that are both inarguable and unprovable. No two states are identical, and Colorado faced enormous forest fires followed by devastating floods in 2013.

With that in mind, Colorado still managed to post a 9.6 percent increase in jobs since Hickenlooper took office, and the unemployment rate dropped from 9 percent to 5.1 percent.

Summary

The Colorado Springs Gazette recently endorsed Beauprez for governor. However, in 2012 the Gazette was purchased by Clarity Media, a division of Anschutz Corp. which, so far this election cycle, has donated almost exclusively to Republican candidates.

The Denver Post endorsed John Hickenlooper on October 3. That outlet is owned by MediaNews Group based in Denver, and the company has no established profile on Open Secrets either under its full name or the abbreviation MNG.

The candidates positions are enumerated on their respective websites, clouded in lofty rhetoric. Voting on their proclaimed stances is simple.

Based on past behavior and the few unrehearsed responses that can be sifted from the debates, a continued Hickenlooper administration would likely be marked by greater willingness for reasoned compromise. A Beauprez administration would perhaps be more decisive at the cost of bipartisan consensus.

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