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Holtzman v. Beauprez

With Hugh Hewitt having identified Colorado as one of the purple states we need to keep tilting red, the governor's race this year is turning into one of national importance. I moved out here in part to get away from the hot house of national politics, so I'm feeling a litle like Wilmer McLean, but I'm here, and there's no helping it.

I had a chance to see the first face-to-face debate (although not the first joint appearance) between Marc Holtzman and Bob Beauprez, and my first impression was that it stengthened my previous impressions. Holtzman is more of an ideas guy, while Beauprez has a somewhat more governmental approach to things. Holtzman is less comfortable speaking in public, while Beauprez is polished enough to allow himself some humor. Holtzman, running an outsider's campaign, is working harder to establish contrast, while Beauprez is working harder not to offend anyone just now.

While my heart's with Marc and his efforts, the campaign is starting to look a little like the Mike Miles-Ken Salazar matchup. So any pressure that can be brought on Beauprez to force him to talk more about ideas is good for the party. I sent an email with some of the following observations to Holtzman, not because they haven't thought of them, or because I'm declaring for one side or another, but because I think a good primary is good for the party, and helps win the battle of ideas.

First, about that speaking style. Holtzman has gotten better, but Beauprez's humor is still disarming. Holtzman really sees himself as continuing the Reagan revolution, but while the words are optimistic, the voice and facial expressions are a little too strained and earnest. It leads to Beauprez walking away with a higher Q-rating, even though there's no need for it. Instead of saying, "I have a plan, and I know what I want to do," Holtzman could earn points by getting out from behind the lectern, gesturing to the crowd, and telling them that, "you already know the answer," before telling them what it is. He's not tall enough to lean over the lectern, but doing that would really compliment his audience.

A terrible moment came at the end of the debate, where Beauprez was responding to some of Holtzman's comments, invoked Reagan, and Holtzman lost his cool and interrupted Beauprez. While the look on Beaprez's face was worthy of Al Gore in the first debate, Holtzman lost any advantage by breaking the rules and giving Beauprez a chance to stay in command, and put Marc back in his place a little. I'll have audio of that (and other portions) loaded up this afternoon.

Second, on issues, Holtzman is full of ideas, but needs to work harder to connect them with themes and with items that matter to people. On the other hand, his ideas are appealing to a Republican crowd, and are more specific that Beauprez's on water and transportation. Beauprez wants to address transportation through roads, rails, and airports. Honestly, that ought to sound terrible to a Republican audience. The Denver railyard is already slated to be moved out east, and airports are largely private enterprises alread. People want to hear about roads, and this talk about "studies" to "get ahead" of the curve sound like expensive boondoggles that don't address specific problems that we're familiar with.

On health care, Holtzman ought to be winning hands-down. Again, there's a limit as to what the state can do, but if you start with the fact that the government has turned the health-care "market" into a pretzel, things like HSAs and federal waivers are no-brainers. They should be at the top of the list, not where Beauprez has them, down at the bottom after, "encourage electronic recordkeeping."

The biggest difference, though, the one that Holtzman kept hammering on to create contrast, was immigration. Holtzman repeatedly banged on Beauprez for not being tough enough on illegal immigration, including references to a bill to crack down on sanctuary cities. Beauprez cited Tom Tancredo's endorsement, and given Tancredo's willingness to be a one-issue candidate and one-issue endorser, that does carry some weight. And the fact is, while Beauprez can't cite the same 100 and 95 ratings on immigration that he can on more general issues, Vote-Smart has him doing pretty well, there, too. Still, it's clear that Beauprez would rather not talk about immigration as his top issue, and Holtzman seemed to get under his skin a little there.

One area where I just flat-out disagree with Holtzman is on CAFTA. My only western-hemisphere free-trade regret is that we didn't get a chance to extend the thing all the way down to the South Pole before Latin American governments started going Left and looking to China for succor. Beauprez's right on this one, and Holtzman is wrong, and we can deal with immigration without ditching free trade.

Look, it's not like Beauprez has no ideas about what to do. He's probably looking ahead both to the general and at having to govern, possibly with a minority in one or both state legislative houses. And Colorado's governor has, at some level, less power than Denver's mayor. The two candidates are probably identical on that issue, except that Beauprez can draw on legislative experience dealing with other states on the issue. Colorado's centrality comes from geography and population rather than any particular talents Beauprez has, but it's still an advantage for him.

Cross-posted at the RMA's gubernatorial primary site, Holtzman v. Beauprez.


Just for your information... It was Wilbur not Wilmer McLean. Thought you might want to know.

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