Club 20 sets election debates; Salazar hedges about faceoff against Tipton
When Club 20 hosts political debates next month, they might not include U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., who has yet to confirm whether he will participate.
Salazar is seeking his fourth term representing most of Club 20’s Western Slope territory, as well as much of southern Colorado.
Salazar faces Republican Scott Tipton in the November general election. Tipton is making a second run at unseating Salazar, having been defeated by him in 2006.
Debates among candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and the 3rd Congressional District will cap a daylong series of debates Sept. 11 at Two Rivers Convention Center.
Club 20 also will hear at lunch from Amy Walter, ABC News political director, who will deliver the keynote speech.
Salazar’s campaign said his September schedule has yet to be completed.
The Club 20 debate is “certainly something he’s considering doing,” spokesman Ronnie Carleton said.
Salazar was unhappy with the cross-examination portion of the debates, Club 20 Executive Director Reeves Brown said he was told by Salazar’s representatives.
The cross-examination section is the least predictable part of the Club 20 debate format. It occurs when the candidates have the opportunity to ask their opponents questions, and the questioners can ask questions in rapid-fire manner and cut off their opponents in mid-answer.
Although candidates can write their own opening and closing statements and stick to broad themes in the debates, the cross-examination is difficult because “You can’t script that,” Brown said.
Salazar faced Tipton in the cross-examination section in their 2006 debate. He didn’t debate his 2008 opponent, Wayne Wolf, in the Club 20 faceoff.
All the other candidates in the major races have confirmed their participation in the debate this time around, Brown said.
One person who will definitely be on the outside looking in is Tom Tancredo, the American Constitution Party candidate for governor.
Tancredo, who riled Republicans this summer by declaring his candidacy and threatening to split the Republican block, represents a party that failed to get enough votes in the last gubernatorial election to qualify to debate under Club 20 rules, Brown said.
A candidate must represent a party that garnered at least 1 percent of the vote in the previous election for the office at issue, Brown said.
That leaves Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and Republican standard-bearer Dan Maes to square off in the gubernatorial debate.
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., will debate Republican candidate Ken Buck in that race.
One debate will feature three participants; the House District 61 race will include incumbent Kathleen Curry, who is waging a write-in campaign as an independent, against Republican Luke Korkowski and Democrat Roger Wilson. Curry, a former Democrat, resigned her leadership post in the Legislature and registered as an unaffiliated voter. She has filed suit in federal court to be listed on the ballot.
Curry wins a spot in the debate because incumbents automatically are invited to debate, Brown said.