- The Washington Times - Monday, September 8, 2014

DENVER — A poll released Monday shows Colorado voters favor the death penalty by more than 2 to 1, which could spell trouble for Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s re-election bid.

A Rasmussen Reports poll released Monday found that a whopping 59 percent of likely Colorado voters surveyed support capital punishment in general, while 25 percent are opposed and 16 percent aren’t sure.

The survey also found Republican candidate Bob Beauprez leading Mr. Hickenlooper by 45 to 44 percentage points, within the margin of error. A poll released Sunday by NBC News/Marist found Mr. Hickenlooper ahead by 43 to 39 percentage points among likely voters.

The death penalty has become a political hot potato for Mr. Hickenlooper, who has switched his position from “for” to “against” since being elected in 2010. He has drawn criticism for his high-profile decision to grant an indefinite reprieve of execution last year to death row inmate Nathan Dunlap, who killed four employees in 1993 at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora.

The issue resurfaced two weeks ago after Mr. Hickenlooper was heard saying in a yet-to-be-aired audio interview with CNN that he could save Dunlap’s life by granting full clemency before leaving office if he isn’t re-elected in November.

At the first gubernatorial debate Saturday in Grand Junction, Mr. Beauprez challenged the governor to declare whether he will grant Dunlap clemency before leaving office.

“I have no plan to revisit my decision, so my decision stands,” Mr. Hickenlooper said as reported by the Associated Press, adding, “The government shouldn’t be in the business of taking people’s lives.”

So far, most if not all anti-Hickenlooper campaign ads airing in Colorado raise the Dunlap issue. The Republican Governors Association released a television ad last week that plays news footage of the father of shooting victim Sylvia Crowell saying Mr. Hickenlooper had taken “the coward’s way out” by granting the reprieve.

The survey polled 800 likely Colorado voters from Sept. 3-4, with a +/- 3.5 percent margin of error.

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