- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) - Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican gubernatorial challenger Bob Beauprez traded jabs Thursday on topics ranging from the death penalty to the state’s economy during their third debate before November’s election.

Meeting in Pueblo, the candidates tried to stick to familiar themes.

Hickenlooper argued Colorado’s economy is rapidly improving despite suffering wildfires and floods during his first term. Meanwhile, Beauprez continued to tie Hickenlooper to President Barack Obama and accused the governor of failing to be a leader, The Pueblo Chieftain reported (http://bit.ly/1vgXJ16 ).

Beauprez, a former congressman who lost the governor’s race in 2006, went after the governor for staying the execution of Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted of the 1993 slayings of four people at an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Hickenlooper countered that no other “civilized” nation has the death penalty.

“There is a legitimate question about whether government should take a life,” he said, adding that he changed his mind about executing Dunlap after learning the man was bipolar.

Beauprez also blamed the governor for allowing energy costs to increase by approving legislation that forced electric cooperatives to use more renewable energy.

“He said he wouldn’t impose a renewable energy standard, so why did he go back on his promise?” Beauprez asked the crowd of about 350 people.

Hickenlooper answered that he recently intervened to keep several potential initiatives off the November ballot that would have hampered the state’s growing natural gas industry.

“One of the big challenges is to make sure we keep natural gas prices as low as possible,” he argued.

Polls show a tight race between the two, and outside groups continue to pour money into the contest.

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Information from: The Pueblo Chieftain, http://www.chieftain.com

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