GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – There is a debate over debates surrounding the race for Colorado’s Third Congressional District.
Democrat candidate Diane Mitsch Bush and republican candidate Lauren Boebert have each agreed to tentative debates hosted by various media outlets and organizations, but nothing has been formally agreed to yet by both campaigns. One debate event that hits close to home on the Western Slope is the Club 20 Candidate Debates.
Club 20 is a Western Slope organization connecting businesses and individuals to lawmakers.
Historically, the candidates for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District meet and debate at a forum in Grand Junction hosted by Club 20 in the weeks leading up to Election Day, but not this year.
According to Christian Reece, Executive Director of Club 20, candidates are still invited to participate in person this year, but Club 20 members and other interested voters must tune in remotely.
“We have never had a candidate for 3rd Congressional District skip a Club 20 debate in Club 20’s 67 year history,” Christian Reece said “So this is certainly a groundbreaking moment.”
As far as the Club 20 debate goes, Diane Mitsch Bush’s campaign team says not participating in Club 20 at debate on Sept. 19 is a matter of safety.
“We declined Club 20’s invite due to ongoing safety concerns about exposure to the coronavirus,” said Mitsch Bush campaign manager Ashley Quenneville. “And making sure we’re prioritizing the health and safety of our communities and of course our candidate.”
After Diane Mitsch Bush made this decision Club 20 offered Lauren Boebert the opportunity to participate in a single candidate Q & A forum, but according to Club 20 executive director Christian Reece an agreement was never reached after Club 20 declined to allow Boebert to participate via delivering a recorded video message to other Club 20 members.
Over Labor Day Weekend, Boebert’s campaign released a statement, where Boebert said she is still interested in debating Mitsch Bush at Club 20 event if Mitsch Bush changes her mind.
“I immediately accepted the Club 20 offer to debate Diane Mitsch Bush. I considered the debate canceled when Diane Mitsch Bush said no to the Club 20 debate, so I filled my campaign schedule with other events. That said, if Joe Biden gives Diane permission to come out of her basement, please let me know and I will clear my schedule to debate her at Club 20.”
Democrats and republicans for various State House races across across the Western Slope are scheduled to debate in person on Sept. 19 at the Club 20 forum, but Quenneville says Mitsch Bush’s is focusing on other debates.
“It’s about balancing all of the requests you get as a campaign and it’s about making sure that you are still being accessible.”