POLITICS
11/04/2014 04:06 pm ET Updated Nov 04, 2014

Why The Colorado Election Means Everything For One Death Row Inmate

The result of the hotly contested gubernatorial election in Colorado couldn't mean more to one man: Nathan Dunlap, a convicted murderer who has been on death row in the state for almost 20 years.

In 1996, Dunlap was sentenced to death for the 1993 murder of four employees at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora, Colorado. Dunlap had worked with the victims at the restaurant prior to the incident.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who came into office in 2010 as a pro-death penalty candidate, stayed Dunlap's execution in 2013. Hickenlooper said that Dunlap's bipolar disorder and the cost of state executions helped him decide to grant the reprieve.

The stay was temporary, however, leaving the issue open for a potential successor to order Dunlap's death at a later date.

That's exactly what Republican challenger Bob Beauprez has said he intends to do.

"When I'm governor, Nathan Dunlap will be executed," Beauprez said during a May GOP primary debate.

During a recent interview with CNN over the Dunlap case, Hickenlooper suggested that he could grant the convicted killer full clemency before he leaves office.

“If that becomes a political issue, in that context within a campaign, obviously there’s a period of time between the election and, and the end of the year where individuals can make decisions... I could give it a full clemency," he said.

Polls have been tight for months in the race between Hickenlooper and Beauprez and remained so right up to Election Day. A Quinnipiac poll from Monday found Beauprez with 45 percent support and Hickenlooper with 43 percent, while 6 percent remained undecided. A Public Policy Polling survey also released Monday found the two candidates in a dead heat -- tied at exactly 45.9 percent.

Associated Press reporter Kristen Wyatt wondered what Dunlap may be feeling about the race on Twitter Tuesday:

"There's one person in Colorado that is more interested in the governor being re-elected than even the governor, and that's Nathan Dunlap," said George Brauchler, 18th Judicial District Attorney, The Denver Post reported.

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