DENVER – The race in Colorado's newest congressional district has turned ugly in the homestretch, with swastikas scrawled on the signs of Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez (search) and deer entrails left on the doorstep of a Democrat.
"We took it to mean he was dead meat," said Dayna Hanson, spokeswoman for Democrat Dave Thomas (search).
Thomas, the Jefferson County district attorney, has also been the target of ads criticizing his involvement in the investigation of the 1999 Columbine High School (search) massacre. And some of Beauprez's campaign volunteers have found glass and nails left under their car tires.
Beauprez won the district in the suburbs west of Denver by just 121 votes two years ago in the last congressional race in the country to be decided. Since then, Democrats have gained a 6,249 majority over Republicans in the district.
But with unaffiliated voters making up a full third of the total, this year's contest has been listed as one of the top 10 targeted races in the country by both parties.
Independent pollster Floyd Ciruli said the Republicans have done a lot to shore up Beauprez as a freshman congressman, making sure he got money for transportation projects and naming him assistant to the House GOP whip.
Jordan Stoick, spokesman for the Beauprez campaign, said swastikas began showing up on Beauprez signs four months ago.
"There is no excuse for that," Stoick said.
Columbine showed up only recently in anti-Thomas television ads, pegged to a recent grand jury report that disclosed Thomas took part in a "private meeting" held by Jefferson County officials several days after the attack by two teenage gunmen. The officials decided to keep secret a draft search warrant for one of the killers' homes that had been drawn up well before the bloodbath.
Thomas attended the meeting but has said he left early and does not remember a decision to keep the document secret.