By Roxann Elliott and TH Phillips
As of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Colorado finally knows who will sit in the governor’s chair for the next four years. After running in a dead heat for much of the campaign, Democratic incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper narrowly defeated former U.S. Rep. Republican Bob Beauprez.
With 94 percent of the vote counted, Hickenlooper has taken a 25,000-vote lead, or about 48.4 percent of the vote, to 47 percent for Beauprez.
Republican candidates from across the state gathered with supporters at the Hyatt Regency at the Denver Tech Center Tuesday night. Many attendees hoped to hear from the Republican gubernatorial challenger, but he announced through a spokesman shortly after 11 p.m. that he would not be speaking
Hickenlooper’s campaign spent the evening at Union Station. Just across the street, the lights were on at the Wynkoop Brewing Company, which he founded.
At a 8:45 p.m., current Lieutenant Governor Joseph García took the stage to thank the gathered attendees for their support. He expressed optimism over ballot returns out of Denver and Boulder counties.
Many Democratic supporters were cautiously optimistic.
“The numbers favor the Republicans, so it really comes down to turnout,” said Todd Winter, a member of Hickenlooper’s finance committee.
With incumbent Democrat Mark Udall conceding the Senate race to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, it will be interesting to see how voter turnout for Gardner affects the governor’s race.
“Gardner ran a much better campaign,” Winter admitted. Still, with such tight margins, there’s cause for Hickenlooper’s campaign to hope.
Gardner’s victory along with the newly Republican-controlled U.S. Senate guaranteed a festive atmosphere back at the GOP election party.
Many Republicans also remained optimistic towards the future of Colorado’s state government as GOP candidates took over as state attorney general, secretary of state, and state treasurer. Ultimately, they hoped that the Colorado House of Representatives, state senate and governor would represent the varied political factions across our state.
Road-building business owner and GOP supporter Tom Peterson of Elizabeth hoped that Beauprez would have had the chance to follow through on his promises of reduced business regulations.
“One of his campaign tenants was rolling back some of the regulations. Being a businessman we’ve seen too much government and overregulation of our industry,” Peterson said.
Peterson also hoped for a more even balance of power in the state legislature.
“A split majority in the House and the Senate ensures that it’s well-rounded legislation that gets to the governor.”
“I think Hickenlooper’s a great guy,” said Denver resident and Republican supporter Luke Niforatas. “But Bob Beauprez, I think he would provide a Republican check in our balance of government.”
Meanwhile, concern over a Beauprez governorship was a common theme among Hickenlooper’s supporters at Union Station.
“My main concern is that he will roll back the gains that we’ve made in compromise that Hickenlooper has built,” said Rod Grebb, owner of a mining exploration company. “A leader has to be able to hear, not dictate.”
“I don’t care for his policies or practices,” Winter said of Beauprez. Despite that, he held some hope for the state no matter how the contest is decided.
“He’s not really going to get to outlaw IUDs. The scary part is that he wants to.”
With Hickenlooper victorious, Beauprez won’t get the chance to try. The challenger officially conceded the race Wednesday afternoon.