GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- The campaign teams of democrat Diane Mitsch Bush and republican Lauren Boebert have yet to agree on a debate. The campaigns in the race for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District have each issued accusatory statements, saying the opposing candidate is declining debates.
Notably, both candidates are not participating in the Club 20 debates in Grand Junction on Sept. 19, an event historically attended by the candidates running for CO-3. There are two other proposed debates in question: one hosted by the Pueblo Chieftain, and one hosted by the La Plata County League of Women Voters.
“We would love to debate Lauren in Pueblo at the Pueblo Chieftain,” said Mitsch Bush campaign director Ashley Quenneville. “Also, we’ve agreed to do the League of Women Voters forum.”
In a statement to KREX 5/Fox 4, Boebert’s communications director said Diane Mitsch Bush’s campaign told the Pueblo Chieftain there would be no availability in her schedule for a Pueblo Chieftain debate. But that’s not what the Mistch Bush campaign says.
“We’re flexible. The Chieftain offered up that first week in October, and we asked, ‘You know this would actually be better for our campaign what do you think?,’ Quenneville said. “Boebert’s team apparently said it’s that week or not at all.”
KREX 5/Fox 4 reached out to Pueblo Chieftain editor Steve Henson to find out what exactly the campaigns said to the paper while attempting to coordinate a debate. He said in an emailed statement that he has ultimately left it up to the campaigns to agree on a date.
“I went back and forth with both campaigns via email in an attempt to get a debate set but it just didn’t work,” Henson said. “I finally copied both campaign chairs and urged them to try to settle on a date and get back to me, but it appears that is not going to happen.”
In KREX 5’s/Fox 4’s coverage of the Club 20 debate, Mitsch Bush’s team cited COVID-19 concerns for not wanting to attend the in-person event, which is taking COVID-19 precautions. Mitsch Bush is willing to attend a Pueblo Chieftain debate, however, which editor Steve Henson confirmed to KREX 5/Fox 4 would hopefully be an in-person debate with no audience or handlers, just Henson who would moderate the debate and a small tech crew.
When asked if Boebert would be willing to solidify a Pueblo Chieftain debate, her communications director Laura Carno said Boebert is willing to debate Mitsch Bush at Club 20.
“Are you suggesting Diane Mitsch Bush doesn’t have the same safety concerns in Pueblo as she does in Grand Junction?” said Carno via text message. “Diane’s hide-in-the-basement strategy is backfiring. Let us know if she wants to debate Lauren at Club 20.”
The other candidate forum in question is a forum hosted by the La Plata County League of Women Voters. In June prior to the primary election, Boebert and Mitsch Bush participated in the league’s forum for primary election candidates. Mitsch Bush has already agreed to a general election forum hosted by the League of Women Voters in October, but nothing is set in stone yet.
“We heard back from the Boebert campaign saying that once we heard back from the Mitsch Bush campaign about their availability, let them know,” said Jean Aaro, League President for the La Plata County League of Women Voters.
Aaro adds like the forum in June, this forum would be for all League of Women Voters chapters across the 3rd Congressional District. Aaro said the Mitsch Bush campaign did get back to her with a date of Oct. 8, and she pitched it to Boebert’s team.
“We went back to the Boebert campaign and said, ‘How’s Oct. 8?’ They responded by offering the campaign’s communication director as a substitute for the candidate,” Aaro said.”The league does not allow substitutes for candidates in our candidate forum.”
Because both candidates have not agreed to being at the League of Women Voters, the forum has no set date yet, but Aaro is still offering to hold the forum for Boebert and Mitsch Bush if both candidates agree.
When asked about whether Boebert has agreed to a candidate forum with the League of Women Voters, Boebert’s communications director referred to the League’s primary candidate forum which Boebert participated in, and said that can be viewed online.