COLORADO SPRINGS – Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez continued a line of attack against Gov. John Hickenlooper centering on public safety Thursday, this time with the help of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Christie, considered a possible presidential contender, made his fourth visit to Colorado since July to stump for Beauprez in a race considered too close to call with only days before Election Day.
Rallying a crowd of Republicans in Colorado Springs – a friendly environment for the GOP – Beauprez, Christie and other Republican candidates took turns bashing Hickenlooper.
They decried gun-control laws passed by Democrats and signed by Hickenlooper last year. And they criticized the governor for state lawmakers’ failure to pass tougher penalties for repeat DUI offenders, and for implementing a law that makes it tougher to charge juveniles as adults – a policy that Republicans also supported when it was approved in 2012.
“This guy has moved further and further left every day he’s been in the governorship,” Christie said of Hickenlooper. “And so let’s keep moving him left right off the stage and out of office.”
Hickenlooper’s administration says Republicans are using hyperbole and scrambling to find things to attack him on in the election’s final days. His supporters point to how the governor has handled recovery efforts during some of the state’s worst natural disasters, with historic wildfires and flooding in 2013 alone. He also has overseen an improving state economy that now has an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, compared with 9.1 percent when he took office.
“They can’t criticize the governor for the economy, they can’t criticize him for the way he handled floods, they can’t criticize the education reforms, so they’re left trying to nitpick things like this,” said Alan Salazar, a top adviser to Hickenlooper.
In recent weeks, Beauprez has made public safety a major part of his closing argument to voters.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time you have a governor that looks out for the rights of the citizens and especially the victims,” he said to supporters Thursday.
Christie has been campaigning for Republican candidates nationwide in his role as head of the Republican Governors Association. The RGA has spent $6 million on the Colorado governor’s race, and a lot of that money has gone to ads criticizing Hickenlooper for granting an indefinite stay of execution to Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted for the 1993 murders of four people at a suburban Denver Chuck E. Cheese’s.
Hickenlooper has stood by his decision.
“I don’t think government should be killing people. You know, call me new-fashioned,” Hickenlooper told supporters at a phone bank Wednesday. But Hickenlooper’s stay of execution stands only while he’s in office and can be reversed by a subsequent governor. That lack of finality has given his critics plenty of fodder to question his leadership style.