Debates set stage for raucus campaign

Last weekend’s Club 20 debates between various candidates finally put a little sizzle back into the yearly meeting of an organization that has lately become a bit unfocused as a leader in bringing industry to western Colorado.

This year’s debate format served as an admirable platform to highlight economic and policy differences between statewide and regional candidates that will have a terrific impact on keeping and attracting business to western Colorado.

One of the most anticipated debates was between Congressman John Salazar and challenger, Cortez businessman Scott Tipton, with the early drama swirling around whether or not Salazar was going to show up. This question was at least partially answered by his appearance on stage. For those who think eye-rolling and reading from prepared notes most likely written by staffers is a winning strategy — this is your candidate.

Like any good progressive, Congressman Salazar believes in recycling. He delivered on that commitment by rehashing his 2006 position that Tipton’s interest in exploring a national sales tax instead of an income tax will somehow add to the tax burden of the average worker.

Most voters now understand the concepts of the Fair Tax or flat-tax proposals, and they’re much less likely to buy into those mischaracterizations.

However, the congressman can be forgiven, as spending too much time in Washington can cause one to lose touch with the idea that taxes can be reduced and think any new proposal must be in addition to, not instead of, the status quo.

Appointed Sen. Michael Bennet did not disappoint. He steadfastly refused to pull his advertising attacking some of challenger Ken Buck’s positions even though independent outlets have declared them to be false.

Bennet is undoubtedly relying on his massive war chest to simply swamp voters with misinformation in the form of advertising that will dwarf the ability of fact-checking organizations to correct.

The fun debate appears to have been between state Senate candidates Steve King and his Democrat opponent, Claudette Konola. The contest seemed to start out with ad hominem attacks from Konola, which seemed pretty bad until you heard her economic positions. Then you kind of wanted to go back to the attacks.

Frankly, it’s more entertaining to hear her compare King to a peacock than to try and figure out an economic thesis predicated on businesses continuously borrowing money while government becomes a shareholder in private companies.

But then King’s opponent has big ideas, too big for just a debate. Sometimes they spill over into the comments section of For instance, here’s a bit of a comment from my Aug. 12 column, from someone who signed on to the website as Claudette Konola.

“As for the undocumented voter, I’ve never seen any evidence that they exist. You DO know the requirements for registering to vote include a Colorado driver’s license, don’t you? And you DO know the requirements for getting a Colorado driver’s license, don’t you? (Hint, it includes proof of citizenship.) No undocumented alien is going to be voting.” With this kind of pleasant and firm grasp of the issues why wouldn’t that candidacy work out?

I have to admit this was interesting to me. It’s not true but it is interesting. In fact, you can register to vote in the state of Colorado with a utility bill and then you can use that same utility bill to identify yourself at the polls — no picture ID needed.

By the way, you don’t have to be a citizen to get a Colorado driver’s license, either. In fact, I know of a Canadian right now who has one. But don’t worry, I’m watching to make sure he doesn’t vote.

Actually, I’m glad to have a hard-left progressive in a local race. Around here they’re kind of like flying saucers — you hear about them and people talk about them, but you never really get a chance to see one.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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