DENVER — GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez named Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland as his running mate on Monday, a move designed to help him mend fences and win votes on the Western Slope.
Barbara O’Brien, named earlier as the running mate for Democrat Bill Ritter, also formally filed campaign papers with Secretary of State Gigi Dennis.
Beauprez, who is giving up a seat in Congress to run for governor, praised Rowland’s accomplishments, integrity and “real-world experience.” Rowland, echoing that theme, said she got a late start in politics, working as a homemaker while she raised her family.
“I come from the real world, not the political world,” she said.
Rowland was elected Mesa County commissioner in 2004 with 67 percent of the vote.
Some voters in western Colorado are still angry over Beauprez’s support for major water projects that many felt could have stunted economic growth in their region by moving water to the Front Range.
Beauprez has said the state is risking serious problems unless it develops more water storage and the needs to find a political solution, including the Western Slope, which controls most of the state’s water.
Rowland said she and Beauprez disagreed over Referendum A, a plan defeated by voters that would have provided up to $2 billion for large water storage projects.
“Reasonable people can disagree. The important thing is how we move forward,” she said.
Mesa State College political science professor John Redifer said Rowland will help Beauprez on the Western Slope because of her opposition to the tax surplus spending plan and water issues.
“It’s all about protecting the Western Slope’s interests,” Redifer said.
Ritter used the announcement to underscore the stark differences between the Republican and Democratic candidates on Referendum C, a measure approved by voters last November that allowed the state to keep an estimated $5 billion in tax surplus refunds over the next five years.
Beauprez and Rowland opposed it; Ritter and O’Brien supported it.
“We believe in investment, and he doesn’t,” Ritter said.
Both Rowland and O’Brien have extensive experience as advocates for children. O’Brien served for 15 years as president of the Colorado Children’s Campaign, and Rowland was a caseworker for the Mesa County Department of Human Services, investigating allegations of abuse and neglect for 10 years.
NAME — Janet Lynn Rowland
BORN — Nov. 19, 1962
HOME — Grand Junction
EDUCATION — Master’s degree in counseling, 1984
EXPERIENCE — Started work for Mesa County Department of Human Services, investigating allegations of abuse and neglect, 1995. Cofounded a nonprofit called “Strong Families, Safe Kids” in 2000 to help prevent child abuse, serving as president of the board until 2004. Elected Mesa County commissioner with 67 percent of vote, 2004
FAMILY — Husband, Lance; two children
NAME — Barbara O’Brien
BORN — April 18, 1950
HOME — Denver
EDUCATION — Doctorate in English, 1982
EXPERIENCE — President, Colorado Children’s Campaign, 1990-2005; executive director, Institute for International Business, CU-Denver, 1988-90; director of campus affairs, CU-Denver, 1985-88; head speechwriter, deputy director for policy for former Gov. Richard Lamm, 1983-85
FAMILY — Husband, Rick; two sons