The Life of the Party
Bob Beauprez came off the ranch to lead the state GOP, won one of the tightest U.S. Congressional races in history, and now he's the Republican frontrunner in the Colorado governor's race. What would JFK say?
One second, we're in Beauprez's campaign pickup truck having a perfectly fine discussion about his father; the next second, the cheerful, self-assured congressman abruptly stops speaking, and I notice him wiping tears off his face. A few quiet moments hang in the air before he says, "Some of this is probably me still feeling a bit remorseful that I did not fully appreciate my dad for what he was and what he'd been through."
Over and over again, gubernatorial candidate Beauprez tells his whistle-stop audiences about the "values and work ethic" he learned from his parents. Like he did back on the gazebo, Beauprez will go on about how his dad, Joseph Beauprez, took the dairy farm he inherited from Bob's grandfather and grew that farm into a 160-acre ranch. What Beauprez doesn't mention to the crowds is that his old man was a Democrat, and that Beauprez himself didn't care much for ranching, or that for a while he even was ashamed of his father.
Joe Beauprez began farming in Lafayette back when Hwy. 36 was a dirt road. He rose every morning at 4 a.m., worked the head in the field until well after dark, and when his three sons came along he expected them to do the same. Bob was the youngest brother (sister Rita was the youngest sibling of them all). Beauprez Sr. wasn't a man who demonstrated or articulated affection. Mostly what young Bob heard from his dad were lists of chores: drive the tractor, shovel the manure, haul the feed. When those tasks were done, Joe simply directed his sons on to the next job. After all, the Beauprezes had bills-the overhead that comes with animals, feed, equipment.
In high school, Bob came to despise ranching, all those chores before and after school. "I came home one night from practice," Beauprez says, "and my brothers announced that tonight we got all the chores to do ourselves: milking, cleaning, all that, and tomorrow morning too, 'cause dad took mom to the state fair for a little overnighter. I threw an absolute fit." He hated the dirty bib overalls his dad wore. Especially when Bob ended up rubbing elbows with the sons of white-collar workers for the new IBM complex that had come to town. All those guys wore suits and ties. Bob thought: What did I do wrong? Life sure dealt me a tough hand.