Three of the four GOP candidates in June 24’s primary election squared off in an hour-long debate Wednesday at 9News.
2006 candidate Bob Beauprez, Secretary of State Scott Gessler and former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp took lightning-round questions, long-answer questions and summed up with closing statements. Tom Tancredo, the 2010 American Constitution Party candidate and former congressman, told 9News he won’t participate in interactive debates with his primary opponents.
Here’s a look at the highlights:
The three agreed Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, the guy they want to unseat, hasn’t been activist enough in dealing with some tragedies during his term, and too activist in approving gun control laws after the 2012 Aurora shootings. Kopp called Hickenlooper’s wildfire reforms “a big nothingburger.” Gessler cited the governor’s “unwillingness to prevent tragedies” and “kicking the can down the road.” Beauprez accused Hickenlooper of “doing something for show rather than for substance.”
Beauprez wouldn’t repeal the 2013 civil unions law. Gessler said “that option is on the table.” Kopp said “it’s not on my agenda right now, but I’ve always been a firm believer in traditional marriage.”
The three declared themselves pro-life, but wiggled on exceptions to abortion. Gessler said he agrees with allowing abortion when a mother’s life is in danger, and said he might be open to other exceptions such as rape or incest. Kopp said he isn’t “one of these candidates that will get squishy during political campaign,” but wasn’t too specific about exceptions. Beauprez said the only exception he voted for in Congress was for the life of the mother, but that he’s respectful of the wishes of others. That said, Beauprez added, “I don’t think it’s on the agenda right now for anybody in this campaign.”
Gessler took a big swipe at Hickenlooper and the Colorado Ethics Commission. “We have a corrupt ethics commission in this state of Colorado.it is controlled, dominated and run by Hickenlooper reelection supporters.”
Kopp took a swipe at Gessler on Obamacare, recalling his fight against a state-run health care exchange as Senate minority leader. “I didn’t see you come over and give us a hand with that.” All three said they’re against Obamacare.
Beauprez defended the Grand Old Party. “It’s your premise that there’s a problem with the Republican brand. I might take a little exception to that,” Beauprez said. “We have fought fiercely among ourselves. I think our brand is on the rise.”
All three oppose local bans on fracking and would welcome wells on their property. “Absolutely, bring it on, I should be so lucky,” Beauprez said. Kopp agreed. And Gessler feared his backyard might not be large enough.
Hey, that Chris Christie guy in New Jersey might be right that marijuana is bad for people, but that gov should lighten up on criticizing Colorado. Kopp said Christie’s recent comments were “like getting advice from the cast of ‘New Jersey Shore’ on dating.” And Beauprez noted that if the 2016 GOP convention is in Denver, “he’ll be all too happy to come here.”
All three candidates would execute death row inmate Nathan Dunlap, accused of killing four Chuck E. Cheese employees in 1996. Last summer, Hickenlooper granted Dunlap a temporary reprieve that could be undone by a future governor.
The only words on Tancredo from 9News Anchor Kyle Clark: “Make sure you leave a good beefy space for Tom.”
Want more? You can check out the debate at 7 p.m. Sunday on KTVD Channel 20 and at 11 p.m. Sunday on Channel 9.