Senate District 7 debate a heated one

The two candidates for Senate District 7 had at each other during the Club 20 debates Saturday.

Rep. Steve King accused his Democratic challenger of being a tax-and-spend liberal, while Claudette Konola questioned the Grand Junction Republican’s ethics in using campaign-finance money on personal expenses.

Each drew rebukes from the other over their stances on taxes, job creation and handling the state’s budget. The heated exchange between the two was the most contentious of all the legislative debates, which featured candidates from around the Western Slope.

“My opponent ... is interested in Colorado businesses borrowing money, and I’m interested in Colorado businesses making money,” King said.

“Mr. King is long on bumper-sticker slogans and short on concrete plans for solving problems,” Konola said. “My girlfriends and I used to call men like him peacocks. They looked good until they opened their mouth.”

King started the bickering from the get-go.

In his opening statement, the Grand Junction lawmaker said the Democratic Party that controls the Legislature and the governor’s office raised taxes, increased fees, brought unions into state government and imposed job-killing regulations on the oil and gas industry.

“In the history of Colorado, you cannot find a bigger contrast between Democrats and Republicans as you can right now,” King said. “The Democrats would have you believe that they are Republican-like, that they have suddenly become fiscal conservatives and social moderates.”

Konola countered that her opponent has no experience running a business and doesn’t know how to help them create jobs.

She said King’s stance on boosting businesses always centers on the same thing, lowering taxes and minimizing regulations.

“You’ve tried it for 30 years, (and) it hasn’t worked,” she told King. “Electing another politician who looks good but can’t articulate a vision beyond fighting taxes and tyranny just because he has an R after his name is folly, and puts all of Colorado in jeopardy.”

Both candidates said the state doesn’t put enough money into higher education and shouldn’t continue to cut money from it every time there is a reduction in state revenues.

They agreed that a good higher-education system helps businesses find skilled workers and is a major factor in helping the economy recover from the recent recession.

During the part of the debate that Club 20 allows the candidates to question each other, Konola asked if it was a proper use of campaign money for King to spend it on his dry-cleaning expenses or to purchase new tires for his car.

King questioned Konola’s admission that allowing governments to own parts of private businesses might be worth considering under certain circumstances, saying that if the government took over a media outlet, for instance, the public wouldn’t get good services.

“If the United States government owned Fox News, would we get fair and balanced information?” King asked of his opponent.

“We already don’t get fair and balanced information from Fox News,” Konola countered.


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