Four non-major-party candidates running for U.S. Senate in Colorado squared off in a debate Wednesday evening in Pueblo.
Colorado arts advocate Paul Noel Fiorino and middle-class champion Dan Chapin are running as unaffiliated candidates, which means they are not registered as members of a political party and they collected the 1,000 signatures necessary to make the Nov. 8 U.S. Senate ballot. Don Willoughby is a write-in candidate, and Arn Menconi, a social justice advocate and former Eagle County Commissioner, is the Green Party’s nominee.
One theme that emerged from the nearly two-hour debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Pueblo and Pueblo Community College, was how much the four candidates actually agree on the issues discussed.
All four fire from somewhere left of the center, and all but Willoughby agree that climate change has a man-made component. Willoughby believes atmospheric pressure might have more to do with a changing environment, but says humans need to do a better job at taking care of the planet.
The candidates took shots at media for not covering them, explained what it’s like campaigning as an under-the-radar underdog and shared their views on policy, from the U.S. banking system and healthcare to how to deal with a national heroin epidemic. They also talked about money in politics and their positions on a handful of Colorado ballot measures.
“How uncomfortable are we prepared to be right now tonight?” asked one candidate when it came to talking about support for a ballot measure that would allow terminally ill patients to obtain medication to end their lives.
Asked who he supports for president this year, Fiorino said, “I feel as an unaffiliated I don’t want to affiliate with those two,” and chose to keep his choice to himself. Menconi supports his party’s nominee Jill Stein. An earlier supporter of Bernie Sanders, Chapin said he plans to vote for Hillary Clinton, saying “It’s way past time in this country to put a woman in charge.” Willoughby said he’s likely to write in Sanders or vote for Stein.
Watch the forum, moderated by The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins: