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?
And while many of those blue-chip business types likely pulled the Republican lever, old man Beauprez was a Catholic who believed if Jesus could vote that son of a carpenter would turn out for the Dems. Regardless of the weather or chores, Joe Beauprez almost never missed a Sunday mass or an election. Without preaching politics, he raised his boys accordingly. In a Fairview High School mock Kennedy-Nixon presidential debate, it was teenage Bob Beauprez who chose to passionately argue the position of JFK.
When he enrolled at CU, Beauprez was a bit like the George Bailey who wanted to escape the old savings and loan in It's a Wonderful Life. He studied geology with grand plans of moving to New Zealand and putting his degree to work there. But reality got in the way. Like George Bailey, Beauprez ended up back home. He married Claudia, his high school sweetheart; they lived on the family homestead in a house Bob's dad helped him build; and he slogged through the anonymous drudgery of the family business.
That is until he discovered cattle breeding. From one of his neighbors Beauprez learned a guy could make serious money breeding pedigree cattle. A good breeder could earn a reputation, travel the country showing off his stock, even win ribbons and start judging other ranchers' head at fairs. It wasn't as glamorous perhaps as cracking rock formations in New Zealand, but it wasn't milking cows, either. Beauprez persuaded his dad to let him give it a try. Before long, Beauprez, who as a U.S. congressman would oppose federal funding for stem-cell research, was tweaking cattle embryos and had become a player on the breeding circuit.
As his socio-economic stature changed from struggling rancher to successful breeding entrepreneur Beauprez's political perspective also transformed. It was the mid-'70s. Nixon had been impeached, the wounds of the Vietnam War were fresh, and the Supreme Court had recently decided Roe v. Wade. Beauprez, now in his mid-20s, decided the Republicans were more his speed. "I guess maybe it did have something to do with Watergate," he says, "since it had to do with who got elected in Colorado. The first election following Watergate, we got Gary Hart in office, and David Skaggs, and Pat Schroeder. And I remember after church one Sunday, I'm watching all this and listening to the rhetoric...it was the rabid pro-choice. It was the strong antiestablishment movement that existed, especially around here in the wake of Vietnam, and now Watergate. And the feminism movement was alive and well. And Claudia and I decided it just wasn't our party."
When Beauprez's mother learned of her boy's political switch she shared her surprise with his big brother. Mel Beauprez remembers her saying, "You are not going to believe this. You better sit down.' To her, it was almost like he was now Jewish or something."