According to the latest polling in the 2006 governor’s race, Democrat Bill Ritter is pulling further ahead of Republicans Bob Beauprez and Marc Holtzman. While polling this far out from the election certainly can’t predict who will end up as Colorado’s next governor, there is one very important set of numbers from the latest Rasmussen Report:

Gary Lindstrom (D): 36%
Bob Beauprez (R): 37%

Gary Lindstrom (D): 35%
Marc Holtzman (R): 33%

Who is Gary Lindstrom, you ask?

That’s exactly why those numbers are so important.

When Lindstrom, a freshman legislator representing the Summit County area, first announced last year that he was going to run for governor, I had to look him up. I’m a Democrat, and not only would I not have recognized Lindstrom if he gave me a wedgie, I had never even heard his name before. Yet here we are, eight months from choosing our next governor, and Lindstrom is polling better than Holtzman and nearly even with Beauprez.

I would imagine that most of the people polled don’t have any idea who Gary Lindstrom is, but they are still saying that they would put him right there with Beauprez and Holtzman if the election were held tomorrow. Make no mistake — Lindstrom has absolutely no chance at getting the Democratic nomination for governor. But what this polling means, I think, is that voters are saying, “I don’t care who it is, I’m voting for the Democrat.”

This is bad news for all Republicans, but particularly for Beauprez; as a two-term congressman on the powerful Ways & Means committee, Beauprez is easily the highest-profile candidate in this race and should be polling much better than he is now. For whatever reason, Democratic candidates would appear to have a natural edge in Colorado in 2006.