Despite the rancor in the Republican presidential primary, the Colorado GOP U.S. Senate primary shows the ideological and demographic diversity within the Republican party. This was on full display in last night’s U.S. Senate debate hosted by 9News and the Lincoln Club of Colorado. Eight of the candidates participated in the debate – Robert Blaha, Ryan Frazier, Jack Graham, Darryl Glenn, Jon Keyser, Peg Littleton, Jerry Natividad, and Tim Neville.
Here are some of the highlights from the debate:
From Ryan Frazier on his campaign focus:
“As a candidate for U.S. Senate, I’m going to have to talk about what’s important to Colorado. How we go to Washington to fight for our values. And, I believe those values start with making sure we have an environment that creates opportunity for all no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter your skin color or your station in life, a country that says, ‘You can make it. You have a chance to pursue your American dream.’ That’s what’s at stake in this election.”
Graham on being a registered Democrat:
“I was raised in a Democratic family. My father, who is 98 years old, was an FDR Democrat coming out of the great Depression. As a kid, I worshiped Jack Kennedy. So, it was a habit more than anything. Throughout my adult life, I’ve supported Republican candidates, I’ve never supported the Democratic candidates…. I think it’s important to point out, as well, that if I am the next Senator from Colorado, I will be the fourth successive Senator who was a Democrat and changed to the Republican Party. Wayne Allared, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, and Cory Gardner, and I don’t think we should leave Ronald Reagan out of that conversation either.”
Neville’s defense of the Second Amendment:
“I think it’s our job as a U.S. Senator to hold who ever is in [the president’s] office responsive to the Constitution. I strongly believe in the Second Amendment having a son that attended Columbine High School and seeing what happens when we abridge the opportunity for people to defend themselves. It’s disastrous…. [The Second Amendment] is a bulwark against tyranny and it should never be compromised.”
Glenn talking tough about ISIS:
“Well, first of all, we need to lead. You know, what I am tired of is the current administration’s inability to articulate who the enemy is. We have an enemy out there and he is unwilling to say that there is radical Islam terrorism out there. We need to lead, as Americans, and sometimes that means putting our troops in harms way. It doesn’t mean that we are all going to be out there, but we need to be leading the charge. We need to identify these people, and we need to eradicate [the enemy] from the face of this earth.”
Littleton on domestic terrorism:
“We need to not only worry about what’s going on internationally on foreign soil, but we need to worry about the terrorism that’s already domestic. We have radical terrorists implanted here in the United States…. People feel it, it’s palpable out there, they’re concerned. They want to know that their safety and welfare is going to be taken care of by people who understand international and domestic terrorism.”
Natividad on Hispanic outreach:
“The Democrats represent oppression when it comes to the Hispanic community…. Basically, it means that they think Hispanics have no aspirations, no ability, no desire to succeed in this country. Republicans just think the opposite of that. Democrats really like to lasso these folks around that one particular aspect – that it’s ‘poor you’. In Spanish, it’s called pooricito, it’s poor you. We’re going to bring the government and the government is going to help you. The Republican Party offers hope, aspiration, inspiration to do whatever you want to do. And I know that, as a Hispanic, that’s what Hispanics want to hear.”
Keyser on oil and gas:
“Any conversation about energy security is a discussion about national security. And I do think there is something that our United States Senator right here in Colorado can do. And I would ask him to do this because the people of Colorado deserve to know where Michael Bennet stands on the oil and gas initiatives that would effectively ban fracking in our state….Here’s where I stand. I know that energy security is national security, and frankly, we care a lot less about what happens in the middle east, we spend a lot less of our time and our treasure worrying about that when in the United States and in the world, we have a big role to play in being a big producer around the world.”
Blaha on the demand for outsiders in politics:
“…The wind is now at our backs. People are demanding people with outside experience. They’re demanding people to go to Washington, to speak boldly, and then do the most important thing they can do in Washington – do what they said they’re going to do and, then, when they’re done serving, go home. That’s why I’m term limiting myself this time.”
Blaha, Frazier, Graham, and Keyser have turned in signatures to make the ballot. Glenn, Littleon, Natividad and Neville hope to make the ballot via the State Assembly on Saturday. Because each would need to receive 30 percent of the vote to make the ballot, it would be impossible for all to move forward in the process. With four competing for votes at the State Assembly, it is possible that just one or two will receive the required 30 percent to make the ballot. Thus, it’s likely that this field will shrink significantly on Saturday.
Nonetheless, for those who claim that the Republican Party is an old, white man’s party. This crop of Senate candidates featuring old, young, white, Hispanic, black, female, pro-life, pro-choice candidates proves them wrong.