DENVER (AP) – The race for governor in Colorado is in a statistical tie, with Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in a dead heat with Republican challenger Bob Beauprez.
Four months before the election, a poll released by Quinnipiac University showed Hickenlooper trailing Beauprez among registered voters 43 to 44 percent, which is within the margin of error. It is the first Quinnipiac poll since Republicans picked Beauprez as the gubernatorial nominee last month.
In 2006, Beauprez lost the governor’s race by a wide margin to Democrat Bill Ritter. Beauprez served two terms in the U.S. House, representing Denver’s western suburbs.
The poll indicated Hickenlooper may face his toughest contest yet. The former geologist was easily elected Denver mayor twice, and he cruised to the governor’s office four years ago against a fractured GOP. Dan Maes, the Republican nominee in 2010, was a political newcomer and tea party favorite who only got 11 percent of the vote in the race. Meanwhile, former Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, best known for his tough stance against illegal immigration, also got into the race that year, but as a third-party candidate because he said Maes couldn’t win.
But Hickenlooper’s political fortunes have changed during the last year. He has faced criticism over gun control laws he signed and his decision to grant an indefinite stay of execution for convicted killer Nathan Dunlap. The poll found a split approval rating for Hickenlooper, with 48 percent of voters approving and 46 percent disapproving.
Quinnipiac surveyed 1,147 voters by landlines and cellphones between July 10 and 14. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
The tight race comes even as 64 percent of voters feel the economy is excellent or good, the poll said.
“Coloradans seem generally optimistic about the future and confidant in the state’s economy. But that is certainly not enough to open the way for a smooth ride to re-election for Gov. John Hickenlooper,” said assistant poll director Tim Malloy.
The state’s independent voters — who make up about a third of Colorado’s electorate — are closely divided over the two candidates. About 41 percent side with Beauprez, and 40 percent favor Hickenlooper.
More men pick Beauprez over Hickenlooper 48 to 37 percent, while women choose Hickenlooper over Beauprez 48 to 40 percent.
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