DENVER — When GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez accused Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Dept. of Corrections of releasing dangerous inmates and making women into widows in a debate last month, the Democratic candidate took serious umbrage, angry that his challenger would politicize last year’s murder of his Corrections chief and friend Tom Clements by a recently paroled inmate.
Now, in the closing weeks of the campaign, Beauprez is going even further, referring to Ebel by name in a new TV ad that urges voters to question whether the governor’s administration is keeping them safe.
It’s an interesting turn for the Republican’s campaign, which started out focusing on Hickenlooper’s leadership style overall but has pivoted to a narrower argument about public safety over the last several weeks.
The TV ad, which features a long shot of a large home in the middle of the night, also references a recent story about an inmate who was released despite threats he made to kill as many people as possible.
When that story surfaced on the day of a gubernatorial debate, Hickenlooper responded to Beauprez’s charge that he is soft on crime by noting that he can’t simply extend prison sentences once served just because of concern the inmate may re-offend.
Hickenlooper said the inmate’s specific threat “should be taken seriously, but is very hard to prosecute.”
The commercial concludes with a reference to Hickenlooper’s decision last May to grant an indefinite reprieve to death row inmate Nathan Dunlap and his comments earlier this year to CNN that he would consider granting the killer full clemency should he lose the election this November to Beauprez, who has campaigned on a promise to carry the death sentence out.
“Hickenlooper has a long list of public safety failures, including the release of dangerous prisoners into our neighborhoods, an understaffed Parole Division, policies that discourage accountability for parolees even for serious violations, and an inability to lead his party on common sense legislation like a Felony DUI law,” said Beauprez’s campaign manager Dustin Olson.
“But the most offensive inaction on John Hickenlooper’s watch is the clear injustice of threatening to grant clemency for Nathan Dunlap if he loses.”
Hickenlooper’s campaign responded Wednesday night, again dismayed by Beauprez’s focus on the Clements murder and noting that the Republican is breaking his promise, sealed with a handshake during a debate, to join the governor in only running positive campaign ads.
“Two candidates can disagree on the issues, but this goes too far,” said Eddie Stern, the spokesman for the governor’s campaign. “Tom Clements was an exemplary public servant and a friend of the Governor’s, and invoking his murder for political points is beneath the people of Colorado.
“We are disappointed that Congressman Beauprez broke his promise to not run negative ads and in doing so, is displaying the worst a candidate has to offer.”