Rep. Bob Beauprez announced yesterday that he had received the endorsement of Gov. Bill Owens as he tries to succeed Owens in office. I wrote at the time that it would be worth watching to see if Republican Marc Holtzman tries to position himself as the “anti-establishment” candidate in the wake of Owens’ endorsement of Beauprez (and the fact that Beauprez has received many other top-level endorsements from Republican elected officials). If the story in today’s Rocky Mountain News is any indication, it looks like Holtzman is doing just that.

Holtzman said he has “great respect and admiration” for the governor, but again must disagree with him on a ballot issue. Holtzman also opposed Referendum A, an Owens- backed water measure that lost in every county in 2003.

Referendum C, on the ballot this November, would allow the state to keep surplus tax revenues for five years.

“I’m not sure which Governor Owens endorsed Bob Beauprez,” Holtzman said. “Lately there have been two Governor Owens: the Governor Owens who was twice elected by the citizens of Colorado as a tax-cutting fiscal conservative and the Governor Owens who is proposing the largest tax increase in the state’s history and who, on his watch, brought us Democratic Senator Ken Salazar and a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate.”

Holtzman sure came out firing on that one, and as a campaign strategy it just might work. Endorsements are always good to have in a campaign, but they can be negative as well — especially in a primary. Republican voters who might be angry with Owens for his support of Referendum C&D, for example, could vote for Holtzman as a message to Owens and other Republicans to return to more conservative roots.