DENVER – Denver7 and The Denver Post hosted a debate Monday night at the University of Denver with the four remaining Democratic gubernatorial candidates ahead of Colorado’s June 26 primaries.
You can watch a full replay of the debate in the player above or in the player embedded below (or by clicking here), and can read below for scrolling updates by Denver7 from during the debates.
Don't forget: The Republican debate is slated for 6 p.m. Tuesday and will follow the same format as the Democratic debate.
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You can read The Denver Post's recap of the debate here.
The reaction so far from the candidates: Mike Johnston’s campaign pointed to comments from Denver7 panelists in a post-debate discussion in claiming victory in the debate, noting that Cinamon Watson said that “as far as tonight, hands down, Mike Johnston won this debate.” The campaign also pointed to Krista Kafter’s comment: “As an unaffiliated voter, I was quite impressed with Mike Johnston.”
“Headed into the final week of the primary campaign, the momentum is clear and it belongs to Mike Johnston,” an email from his campaign said.
The campaigns for Polis and Kennedy also touted them as having the most-successful debates.
“While other candidates chose to use the final debate for last-minute jabs at their opponents, Jared Polis focused on outlining his bold plans for Colorado’s future,” an email from his campaign said, highlighting Polis’s comments on the Trump administration’s family separation policy, education and universal health care.
“In tonight’s debate…Cary Kennedy made a strong case for why she is the best person to serve as Colorado’s next governor, emphasizing her pledge to make education Colorado’s #1 priority,” said an email from Kennedy’s campaign, which also touted her debate comments on the state’s economy and education and highlighted the ongoing back-and-forth between her campaign and Polis’s over support for voucher programs and other education and health care initiatives.
Lynne’s campaign had not sent a post-debate email blast regarding the debate at time of publication.
To end the debate, the candidates were asked if there was one thing their significant other would say drives them crazy. Polis said it would be that he works too hard and doesn't take enough time off; Lynne said she was "fastidious and orderly" while her husband was the "exact opposite"; Kennedy admitted she snored; and Johnston says he likes to keep his kids up an hour later than they're supposed to be.
We have a panel discussion following with Denver Post guest columnist Krista Kafer and Blueprint Strategies' Cinamon Watson.
Regarding setbacks for oil and gas development, both Donna Lynne and Jared Polis said they would support different setbacks on a situation-by-situation basis. Polis said that in cases where there is no surface use agreement that he has in the past supported setbacks of up to 2,000 feet. Kennedy said she supports letting local jurisdictions make their setbacks farther back, and Johnston said while he wanted to push back the current setbacks, 2,500 feet was too far.
All the candidates said they would work to close the wage gap for minority communities and do more to support them.
The candidates are asked yes/no questions about a guaranteed basic income. Lynne, Kennedy and Johnston says no, while Polis says he’s interested in the idea. Regarding whether or not rural Colorado is forgotten, Polis says yes; Lynne says no; Kennedy says yes and Johnston says he feels that’s the case. Regarding spending money to explore Hyperloop, Kennedy and Polis said they would look at it, and Johnston and Lynne say yes.
The candidates were asked about campaign finance and the various ways they have all raised money.
When asked if a candidate has to be a millionaire to run for governor, Jared Polis said, “I sure hope not.” He’s given his own campaign at least $11 million. Donna Lynne said, “I think this election’s for sale.” She proposed limits on campaign contributions—both from individuals and an overall cap.
Cary Kennedy said, “This campaign is exactly what is wrong with campaign finance in this country.” She pointed to Polis’s funding of his campaign, the millions coming into Frontier Fairness, Mike Johnston’s PAC, and said she would support public financing of elections.
Johnston asked, “Is this an election or auction?” and pointed to Polis. He said he was “proud” of some of the big-money contributions made to his PAC—especially the $1 million from Michael Bloomberg, which Johnston said came because of his strong stances against the NRA and gun lobby.
The candidates were asked yes/no questions about the Olympics, the Trump administration's Title X gag rule and the repeal of the death penalty. All said voters should have the final say on whether the Olympics should come to Colorado; all said the attorney general should sue over the gag rule; and all said they wanted to repeal the death penalty in Colorado.
The candidates were asked about higher education and whether they’d support a tuition freeze, then whether or not they support a TABOR repeal or reform.
Jared Polis said he would work with the General Assembly to get more funding and decrease tuition rates at state universities. And on TABOR, he said he supported structural reforms, like changes to the “ratchet-down effect.” But he said that Colorado “can’t afford to wait until TABOR reform is done to make investments we need to do.”
Donna Lynne said Colorado imports too many college kids and that the state needed a higher education funding task force. Regarding TABOR, she said she would work to repeal the refund mechanism.
Cary Kennedy said she’d support freezing tuition for in-state students trying to go to college in Colorado and removing the cap on TABOR spending.
Mike Johnston pointed to his “Colorado Promise” that would allow people to go to vocational schools or two-year colleges in exchange for public work.
All four candidates said they would support a new ban on assault weapons.
Regarding talking to children about guns in schools, Mike Johnston said he believed it was a conversation that should be had at home. Jared Polis said it was not something the state Board of Education; Donna Lynne said it was OK to relieve anxiety in certain school settings and Cary Kennedy said reassurances for students would be necessary.
Regarding the Westminster shooting, mental health and a possible "red flag law," the candidates all said they believed that mental health issues needed to be addressed. Cary Kennedy said Colorado needs a red flag law; Mike Johnston agreed that a red flag law was necessary and highlighted his outreach on prior gun bills and discussions with the NRA; Jared Polis supported such a measure and said that he's stood up to the NRA; and Donna Lynne said she as governor would declare the gun and mental health issue a public health crisis, much like the opioid crisis.
The first question is about the Trump administration's policy on separating some young children from their families at the border and whether they support Gov. Hickenlooper's executive order. What will their policy be toward immigrants and how would they respond if Colorado loses federal funding?
Jared Polis said Colorado should be a "welcoming state" and said he'd "stand against Donald Trump to make sure we're a welcoming state for new arrivals and for those already here."
Donna Lynne said that "reprehensible is probably too mild a term to describe what's going on" regarding the child separation policies and said she would stand against President Trump "to make sure we're a welcoming state for new arrivals and for those already here."
Kennedy said the policy was a "violation of human and civil rights" that she couldn't tolerate. She said as governor that she would "oppose any policies that tear families apart."
Mike Johnston said he would not use state resources to help immigration officials and said that as a father, he couldn't fathom having his children ripped from his arms.
All four candidates said they didn't believe there was a definition of a "sanctuary state."
The debate is scheduled to being at 6 p.m. From left to right on stage will be Donna Lynne, Cary Kennedy, Mike Johnston and Jared Polis.