Bush coming to Denver to raise money for Beauprez

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— President Bush is coming to town next week to help raise money for GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez as Republicans hope to have a governor in office for the next round of congressional redistricting, GOP political consultant Katy Atkinson said Thursday.

Atkinson said the next governor could be in office for the next eight years, time enough to have an influence in 2010 when the nation takes a new census and state lawmakers begin drawing new political lines.

Republicans in Colorado suffered following the last census in 2000, when the Legislature was split between Republicans and Democrats. Lawmakers failed to agree on new boundaries in time for the 2002 elections, prompting a Denver judge to draw up a map that survived legal challenges and remains in force today.

The president's visit will also help Beauprez, who is lagging behind Democrat Bill Ritter in fundraising. According to reports filed with the secretary of state, Ritter had raised $2.88 million to Beauprez's $2.38 million as of Sept. 13.

The president is scheduled to attend a Beauprez campaign reception Wednesday at the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center in Englewood. Campaign aides said they do not know how much money the president's visit will raise.

Ritter responded with his own plan, launching a one-week "Beat Beauprez & Bush" fundraising campaign in preparation of the president's visit.

"Despite his unpopularity across the country, the president still has the ability to raise funds quickly. He raised more than $1 million in Tennessee this week," Ritter said in a letter to supporters.

Atkinson said Bush also is worried how it would look if a Democrat took control of the governor's office after Democrats won control of the state Legislature for the first time in 44 years two years ago.

"I think Bush sees the governor's race as another indicator of how Bush is doing," she said, noting his concern that Democrats could sweep the Republicans from power in Congress in midterm elections over his slumping popularity.

Atkinson said a president can help candidates raise money, whether their approval rating is 60 percent or 40 percent, where Bush now stands.

Beauprez spokesman John Marshall said Beauprez welcomes support from Bush, despite the low marks.

"I understand some people make their determinations based on poll data. Bob Beauprez doesn't subscribe to that theory," Marshall said.

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