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Colorado Gubernatorial Candidates Draw Clear Distinction For Voters

As Colorado’s governor’s race heads into the homestretch, it is shaping up to be a classic liberal versus conservative campaign.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, the Democratic incumbent, is in a tight race against Republican challenger Bob Beauprez. When the two men debated Sunday, Beauprez seemed to sense had some momentum.

“Beauprez came across as practiced and polished — if sometimes stern in his conservative views — and nothing like the 2006 gubernatorial candidate who lost by 17 percentage points,” the Denver Post reported.

In contrast, the paper reported, “Hickenlooper … stuttered on a few answers and leaned awkwardly at times on his lectern.”

But matters of style may be less important than what each candidate promised to bring to the office.

Beauprez said that he would repeal a law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses, said he didn’t think humans contributed “significantly” to global warming, and said he disagrees with spending public funds on contraceptives that can induce abortions. He said he believes intrauterine devices — which have been credited with reducing teen pregnancy by as much as 40 percent under a state program — to be such a contraception.

Hickenlooper, on the other hand, defended the immigrant drivers’ license program as a matter of public safety and defended the state program on IUDs as an important health care component for low-income women.

The Post noted that an anonymous donor, not public funds, paid for the IUD program.

Beauprez hit Hickenlooper hard on his leadership style, saying he’s indecisive and “at worse” has a tin-ear about the concerns of Coloradans who aren’t in his core constituency. Beauprez cited Hickenlooper’s support of controversial new gun laws and a renewable energy mandate opposed by the majority of rural residents as evidence he still considers himself the mayor of Denver rather than the governor of the whole state.

As for Hickenlooper’s desire to create consensus on divisive topics, “I think that’s a euphemism for kicking the can down the road,” Beauprez said.

Hickenloooper had to be prodded by the moderators from the Denver Post into characterizing Beauprez’s leadership style, which he said is to first “make an attack” and “take a hard stand and worry about the details later.”

Although the candidates covered everything from transportation spending to higher education, sparks flew over their divergent opinions about the death penalty.

Since early 2013, Hickenlooper has been defending his decision to grant an indefinite stay of execution for convicted mass murderer Nathan Dunlap. He eventually came out as opposed to the death penalty, a switch from his position in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

“I don’t believe the government ought to be taking another person’s life,” he said.

Beauprez said he would like to see Dunlap executed.

Colorado voters will begin receiving mail ballots in about two weeks.

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