2006 Colorado gubernatorial election
Ritter: 40–50% 50–60% 60–70% 70–80%
Beauprez: 40–50% 50–60% 60–70%
|Elections in Colorado|
The Colorado gubernatorial election of 2006 was held on November 7, 2006. Incumbent Republican governor Bill Owens was unable to run due to term limits, and the election was won by Democratic nominee Bill Ritter.
- Bob Beauprez, U.S. Representative
- Clyde Harkins, former Department of Health and Human Services official
- Dawn Winkler, executive director of Health Advocacy in the Public Interest
- Paul Fiorino, dance instructor, business owner, educator, and activist (first unaffiliated candidate for Governor on the ballot by petition)
- Charles "Chuck" Sylvester, Farmer, rancher, and former manager
Ex-Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter emerged as the lone Democratic candidate after his rival, Breckenridge state representative Gary Lindstrom, dropped out of the race on February 28, 2006. Several high-profile Democrats reportedly mulled a run, such as Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, State House Majority Leader Andrew Romanoff, and others, but they never announced their candidacy, leaving Ritter as the sole Democratic candidate. Nevertheless, Ritter's personal opposition to the practice of abortion initially led to much division within the ranks of his fellow Democrats, fears that were not allayed even when Ritter insisted that he had no agenda to change state law on the issue. Other Democrats pointed out that Ritter's moderate platform could be appealing to voters in a state that has in the past been considered right-leaning. In the end, the lack of any challenge to Ritter eventually led to the support and endorsement of most of the state's leading Democrats and progressive institutions.
The Republican race was from the beginning hotly contested between House Representative Bob Beauprez, and former University of Denver President Marc Holtzman. While Holtzman, who has never before held elected office, was once considered a long shot for the nomination, his message resonated with some of the Republican base. Holtzman criticized Beauprez for compromising with Democrats on key issues and for offering only belated and lukewarm opposition to Referendums C and D during the 2005 campaign. Such criticism grew strident enough for Beauprez to announce in April that he would no longer attend political debates which also included Holtzman. He is a fairly well-regarded conservative in his area of the state, but was recently a recipient of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's ARMPAC campaign contributions. DeLay is being prosecuted on charges of money laundering and finance charges. Beauprez has been criticized by many for keeping DeLay's money after the Texas politician was indicted.
The Democrats had a strong centrist challenger that has the potential to appeal to moderates on both sides. Ritter had experience as the Denver District Attorney, from working with the Denver Public Schools, and as a humanitarian worker in Africa. Beauprez benefitted from experience in the U.S. House of Representatives in an election in which he narrowly won, and from a state that has often leaned somewhat to the right politically. However, Beauprez is a conservative Republican who alienated some independent and moderate voters with his strong stance against many social programs and criticism of funding for public education, such as his staunch opposition to Referendum C (funding for higher education and temporary reversal of Taxpayers Bill of Rights).
Major candidates' stances
List of Debates
Grand Junction debate
In the first debate of the gubernatorial election, Ritter, Beauprez and Holtzman met at a public "town hall" style forum in the Western Slope city of Grand Junction. In the debate, largely a political "fire-fight" between GOP rivals Beauprez and Holtzman, Ritter made firm stances on the controversial 2005 referendums C and D (which both rivals consistently opposed), abortion, and the environment in regards to the economy and business. On the issue of illegal immigration, Ritter and Beauprez held back while Holtzman attacked the City of Denver, Beauprez, and the Democratic Party. Ritter expressed a plea for compassion while noting the seriousness of the issue.
In the aftermath of the first debate, which was both pre-primary and non-inclusive of third party candidates, political scientists found only one consistent result: the demise of Holtzman, who later dropped out of the race. In the polls that followed, a small gap (which would slowly increase) of Ritter's lead was consistent through the summer months.
In the first post-primary debate, as well as the first to include third party candidates Dawn Winkler (Libertarian), Clyde Harkins (Constitution), and Paul Fiorino (Independent) (excluded was GOP write-in Chuck Sylvester), Ritter and Beauprez faced off in Denver.
The debate was conducted by CBS-affiliate KCNC-TV and televised live. The critical talking points of the debate were that of abortion (Beauprez's opposition, Ritter's support), the economy (Ritter's C&D backing, Beauprez's desire for repeal) and illegal immigration. Heated exchanges between Ritter and Beauprez reached a climax in their debate of Colorado's legalization of abortion, as well as the fate of Colorado's economy. In the aftermath of the first Denver debate, Ritter's polls shot up by more than seven points.
In the second debate in Denver, heated exchanges between Ritter and Beauprez on the issue of healthcare were the central focus. "This is where contrast comes in", Ritter said to spectators at Denver's Jewish Community Center. "I would really say that is part of what we have to consider – what people say with how they vote when they are in Washington, D.C." . Released earlier, a poll by The Rocky Mountain News had put Ritter 17 points above Beauprez.
In October's first debate, Ritter had led his opponent with as much as 17 points in recent media polls and had been endorsed by both of Denver's major papers The Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post. Aired during primetime on Denver's government access KMGH- Channel 7, the debate was repeated on cable channels through the following Monday. Immediately following the start of the debate, Ritter came under heavy fire from Beauprez on issues regarding illegal immigration and his prosecuting record. Saying that if some of the defendants involved in plea agreements with his office were in the country illegally, they were "deportable no matter what they plead to – and they should be deported", Beauprez retorted "That's a bunch of spin", saying Ritter offered the deals to help immigrant criminals stay in the country. 
Battling back, Ritter stated "I think the next governor of the state ought to have something more than a cocktail-party familiarity with the criminal justice system." and that federal immigration officials told him they didn't have the resources to deport illegal immigrants convicted of felonies. Blaming Congress for not giving immigration authorities the funding necessary to do their job, Ritter defended his position diligently. "I've never seen a single instance where you stood up on behalf of law enforcement ... to provide the resources to do this", he said. 
Beauprez was visibly unimpressed with Ritter's rebuttal, and said he helped quickly extradite cop-killer Raul Gomez-Garcia, an illegal immigrant, by applying leverage through an amendment he offered. Countering, Ritter pointed out that Gomez-Garcia is back in Colorado only because the prosecutor agreed not to charge him with first-degree murder or seek the death penalty. 
The Colorado Catholic Conference hosted the sixth debate overall, and the second business-sponsored debate. Both Ritter and Beauprez being of Roman Catholic faith, both were grilled over so-called "morals" issues by the religious organization. Keeping in stride with the focal points of the October campaign, major talking points were immigration and economics, which both led to charged exchanges.
Televised on KUSA across the state, the Halloween debate brought both candidates to Denver again to argue education and agriculture primarily. During the debates, both candidates received applause and audience responses from both supporters and the opposition. During one point in the debate however, while debating education, Ritter received a standing ovation from most of the crowd after his defense of controversial Referendum C&D.
On September 18, prior to a second CBS-sponsored debate in Denver, Ritter and opponent Beauprez met in the first corporate-sponsored forum held by Associated General Contractors in suburban Lakewood, Colorado. Like the later debate, the focus of the arguments leaned heavily on healthcare. However, unlike the Community Center debate, healthcare matters were argued in the business-oriented text.
After Beauprez said he would support housing aid and heating-bill assistance, Ritter noted that Beauprez opposed Referendum C, last year's voter-approved measure to loosen revenue limits on the state for five years. That measure, which has provided hundreds of millions in extra revenues to the state this year, is helping the state restore property-tax exemptions for senior citizens and assistance with their heating bills. "You can believe in it", Ritter said. "But saying you believe in it is not the same thing as supporting the methods that we have found in this state during this past legislative session to fund it." .
|Poll source||Date(s) administered||Bill
|Survey USA||November 2, 2006||57%||35%|
|Zogby/WSJ||October 31, 2006||46.4%||46.6%|
|Rasmussen||October 29, 2006||51%||39%|
|Survey USA||October 23, 2006||56%||38%|
|Zogby/WSJ||October 19, 2006||46.7%||44.7%|
|Mason Dixon||October 7, 2006||50%||35%|
|Survey USA||September 28, 2006||55%||38%|
|Rasmussen||September 26, 2006||50%||34%|
|Rocky Mountain News||September 18, 2006||50%||33%|
|Zogby/WSJ||September 11, 2006||47.5%||38.9%|
|Zogby/WSJ||August 28, 2006||46.0%||38.7%|
|Survey USA||August 17, 2006||50%||40%|
|Rasmussen||August 11, 2006||48%||39%|
|Zogby/WSJ||July 24, 2006||42.8%||40.9%|
|Mason Dixon[permanent dead link]||July 17, 2006||42%||35%|
|Rasmussen||July 10, 2006**||42%||37%|
|Zogby/WSJ||June 21, 2006||44.2%||36.1%|
|Rasmussen||June 8, 2006||43%||38%|
|Rasmussen||May 5, 2006||37%||39%|
|Rasmussen||April 5, 2006||41%||40%|
|Rasmussen||February 25, 2006||40%||33%|
|Rasmussen||January 26, 2006||38%||39%|
|Democratic gain from Republican||Swing|
- U.S. gubernatorial elections, 2006
- State of Colorado
- Governors of Colorado
- List of Colorado ballot measures
- Official campaign websites (Archived)