DENVER — Just a few hours after conservative blogger Erick Erickson urged Colorado Republicans to ‘draft’ former Congressman Bob Beauprez as the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Beauprez himself didn’t want to talk about it much.
After a press conference at the City and County Building here to tout Colorado’s bid for the 2016 Republican National Convention, Beauprez told a host of reporters that he’s focused on his role chairing the RNC bid committee, not on the governor’s race.
“Today is about the RNC bid. Have I been getting encouragement? Yeah, and I’m flattered by that,” Beauprez said. “I said I’m going to see this RFP through and I am going to see this RFP through and that includes the very important presentations [to the RNC's site-selection committee in Washington, DC] next Monday.
“Obviously, I’m listening, but right now it’s all Denver 2016 and I’m all in on that.”
Last month, as Beauprez began making calls to potential donors about a late entry into the governor’s race, speculation ramped up that he was getting in.
And it continues to swirl as Beauprez commissioned a private poll last week that showed him trailing Tom Tancredo and Scott Gessler in the seven-candidate primary field; and he’s reportedly had conversations with a possible campaign manager and other potential staffers.
Sources also indicate that associates of Beauprez and Tancredo had been negotiating a deal — Tancredo would exit the race, then Beauprez would get in — but those talks have since been tabled.
Tancredo told the Denver Post he never agreed to such a deal, although sources offer conflicting reports of the negotiations.
In his column Monday, Erickson argued that Beauprez is more electable than the two Republicans currently atop the primary field.
“Both Gessler and Tancredo have high hurdles in terms of electability,” Erickson writes. “Gessler has a series of ethics mishaps that are sure to be the basis of relentless attack ads and Tancredo ran four years ago for Governor as a third party candidate and lost handily.”
On Beauprez: “He can build the alliances none of the other candidates can,” Erickson continued.
But Republican operatives enticed by Beauprez’s somewhat broader appeal to the general electorate and his ability to self-fund a campaign aren’t as certain that the former congressman is jumping into the race as they were just weeks ago.
“He dipped his toe in the water — and it got bit,” said one GOP operative. “Now, he’s reassessing.”
But time is running short.
With GOP caucuses set for March 4, Beauprez is most likely looking at having to petition onto the June primary ballot, should he decide to run.
To do so he’ll need signatures from 1,500 registered Republicans in each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts, which are due on March 31.
That’s a tall order — and even taller given the absence of any campaign organization.
“That’s the toughest thing to do in politics,” another operative said. “And they don’t have a lot of time left.”