Rowland snubs old running mate to endorse ‘new generation’



What: Mike Kopp for GOP nomination for governor.

When: 1:30 p.m. today

Where: Orchard City town hall

Bob Beauprez lost a vote he may have been counting on in his primary bid to be the GOP nominee to run for Colorado governor in November.

That happened when former Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland, who was Beauprez’s running mate in his last gubernatorial bid in 2006, officially endorsed one of the six other candidates in the race, former state Sen. Mike Kopp.

Rowland said she began supporting Kopp’s bid for the nomination among the dozen who have been in the race at one time or another for some months now, long before Beauprez made his announcement earlier this month to join the race.

“Bob’s a great guy, I just think that Mike’s the guy for governor this go-around,” Rowland said. “What he represents really is that new generation of leadership that I think our conservatives are hungry for, and I’ve been supporting him for several months. I’ve been working on his campaign actively for quite a while now.”

It isn’t coincidence that her endorsement was announced by the Kopp campaign on Thursday.

The candidate is planning a campaign event at 1:30 p.m. today at the Orchard City town hall.

In addition to Beauprez, Kopp is facing five other contenders for the right to run against Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in November: Secretary of State Scott Gessler, former congressman Tom Tancredo, state Sen. Greg Brophy, Brighton businessman Steve House and La Salle rancher Ronita Sylvester.

Rowland said she understands that most Republicans don’t like to say bad things about each other, much less run against one another, but said Kopp is the only one among that field with a real vision for the future.

“It’s a bit awkward, but not only do I consider Bob a friend, I view the same with Scott Gessler, Brophy and Steve House. I know them and respect them quite a bit,” she said.

“I think it’s nice that we have such a good bench of Republican candidates to chose from, but so far (Kopp) is the only one I’ve heard from who really has a plan and a vision, and it’s pretty clear and articulate.”

She highlighted Kopp’s so-called blueprint for leaner government, saying it isn’t a no-government approach as many call for, but one that focuses only on its mission and stays out of everyone else’s way.

Rowland’s replacement on the Mesa commission, Rose Pugliese, was faced with a similar dilemma when it came to the question of who to back in this year’s GOP primary.

Four years ago, she supported Tancredo over the Republican Party’s nominee, Dan Maes. At the time, Tancredo had left the party to challenge Hickenlooper as a member of the American Constitution Party.

Like Rowland, Pugliese said times are different, and so is this year’s governor’s race.

“Scott Gessler is going to make a fantastic governor,” she said. “He’s not afraid to take on issues head on. He’s one of the first people to believe in me, and supported me in my run for county commissioner. That’s important to me.”

In addition to Rowland, Kopp also has endorsements from several other well-known people, including Tim Foster, president of Colorado Mesa University.

Gessler, too, has other well-known supporters in the region, including Marcia Neal, who sits on the State Board of Education, Mesa County Commissioner John Justman and Grand Junction Mayor Sam Susuras.


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