Dunlap becomes a defining issue 

City Sage

'We have a moment to elect a governor who will make tough choices contribute by midnight tonight!" — Bob Beauprez

"I really think you're going to like the ads we have coming. They look great and focus on the positive progress Colorado has made under John's leadership. We can't let them get buried by attack ads from the opposition. Will you contribute $25, $50 or even $250 before the midnight deadline?" — Brad Komar, campaign manager, Hickenlooper for Colorado

If only all campaign emails/ads were so genteel! But as we all know, campaigns and their surrogates aren't just throwing mud — they're releasing landslides. Every day, I have to delete at least 50 emails replete with sly innuendo, unfounded claims and carefully targeted libels.

For example, let's attack the other side's billionaires!

The Ken Buck for Congress campaign has declared: "Nancy Pelosi and her liberal Washington cronies are attacking conservative candidates all across the country. In Colorado alone, they are pouring TENS of MILLIONS of dollars into false ads!"

Meanwhile, groups linked to the billionaire Koch brothers are spending millions to run ads on Colorado TV. They include: Freedom Partners (almost $1.2 million); Generation Opportunity ($648,000); Americans for Prosperity ($382,000); and American Energy Alliance (almost $160,000).

Smoke and mirrors aside, there's one issue where we see the two candidates for governor as they are: Nathan Dunlap.

In May 2013, Gov. Hickenlooper granted convicted murderer Dunlap a "temporary reprieve" from execution. In a 2014 interview with CNN — as-yet-unaired, but obtained by conservatives — Hickenlooper opined that any politician who made "a person's life" a political issue would be punished by voters. Republicans obviously believe otherwise; Beauprez has jumped eagerly into the debate, all but promising to personally insert the executioner's needle into Dunlap's veins.

"There are plenty of good moral arguments for and against the death penalty, but the law in Colorado is very, very clear," Denver's KDVR-TV quotes Beauprez as saying. "Nathan Dunlap has gone through 20 years exhausting every option available to him under Colorado law. His execution date was set. John Hickenlooper took an oath to enforce the laws of the state of Colorado, but when it was up to him to simply make the decision, he said, 'I can't decide, so I'll just leave it to the next guy.'

"That day, justice was stolen from the families of the victims of that convicted murderer. On my watch, justice will be carried out, the laws of the state of Colorado will be enforced, and I will never turn my back on the victims."

Hickenlooper and Beauprez have both lived exemplary lives. They're honorable, principled and charitable men who have worked hard, enjoyed the fruits of their labor, and deserve the affection and respect of their fellow Coloradans.

When Hickenlooper was elected in 2010, he supported the death penalty. Since then, his views have changed. It may be that supporting the death penalty in the abstract is one thing, but actually having the power of life or death is another. With a stroke of the pen, Hickenlooper could have killed Dunlap — or spared him forever. Always the compromiser, the governor chose to do neither. It was the act of a man unafraid to wrestle with fundamental questions and unworried about potential political consequences.

Beauprez could have kept his mouth shut. As a Catholic, he might have noted the church opposes the death penalty. He could've refused to make it a campaign issue. But he chose otherwise. Asked about supporting the death penalty when he ran for governor in 2006, he said Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput told him that "society has a right to establish and enforce laws."

Well, eight years later we have a new Pope whose views seem to approach a "seamless garment" ethic, which calls upon Catholics to value human life even when doing so might be uncomfortable or politically unpalatable.

Hickenlooper's views have changed and evolved, Bob. Perhaps you should take a day off from campaigning to reflect upon teachings of the church, and the power of mercy.

You may soon have the power of life or death. Making political hay by promising to execute anyone, even a miserable weasel like Nathan Dunlap, is unworthy of the man you have been and the governor you could become.


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