The main party candidates in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race square off Tuesday for their only televised debate. The interest in the battle between the incumbent, Democrat Michael Bennet, and his Republican challenger, Darryl Glenn, so far has been low-key. That’s especially the case when compared to two years ago when Mark Udall, a Democrat, was defeated by Republican Cory Gardner in one of the most-watched contests in the country.
This year it was the Republican primary race that was more lively.
Glenn, a county commissioner in southern Colorado’s El Paso County, beat a dozen candidates to clinch his party’s nomination. Glenn describes himself as "an unapologetic Christian, constitutional conservative, pro-life, Second-Amendment-loving American. In the general election, Glenn has been outspent by Bennet and has been somewhat media averse and even outright avoiding coverage, including a refusal to speak to the state's largest newspaper, The Denver Post.
Bennet is a former Denver Public Schools superintendent and businessman. He was appointed to the Senate in 2009 by then-Gov. Bill Ritter to replace Sen. Ken Salazar who became President Obama’s secretary of the Interior. A year later, Bennet narrowly won the seat in an election, beating Republican Ken Buck, who went on to represent Colorado’s 4th Congressional District.
We asked each candidate the same set of questions. Some questions, like those on the economy and immigration,were inspired by input from members of our audience. The questions don’t focus on the weedy particularities of policies per se. Instead, they are intended to reveal something about the character and personality of each candidate. Because he is the challenger, Glenn’s answers are featured first.
Highlights of how they answered:
Q: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have strong but differing views on immigration. How would you tackle the issue if the new president were not from your party?
Glenn: “Your job is to fulfill your constitutional requirements so it doesn’t matter who the President is if you’re doing your job. Your job is to lay out a plan that looks at what is in the best interest of this country.”
Bennet: “Well I hope he won’t be elected President in part because of his position on that issue. His position on immigration on this country is not a traditional Republican position, to say nothing of Democrats or independents. It’s a radical view of the situation it doesn’t relate to what most people in Colorado believe.”
Q: We also wanted to know about the one mistake over the course of your political career that you learned the most from.
Glenn: "You learn that you can always be a better listener. That’s the one thing, that you can always improve upon that. Because sometimes it’s about how you are talking over people, and I think you need to do a better job listening. We’re so quick because most people in politics are like type A. I’m a type A personality. So you already want to jump in there with a solution. You have to do a better job holding yourself back, taking that time to be able to listen to how your message is actually resonating.”
Bennet: “The way the healthcare bill was passed, in a way that was in the end that was not partisan. We can blame each other for that, but I think the way that it was passed has made it more difficult for us to be able to continue work on healthcare, which is still a work in progress. I’m not talking about the healthcare bill. I’m talking about healthcare in America. We had big problems before the healthcare bill passed, we have big problems after it has passed, and I think the way it was passed has made it harder to have bi-partisan efforts succeed.”
To hear the full interview, click the Listen button above.
The election: Ballots for the 2016 election will be mailed to registered voters starting the week of Oct. 17. Election Day is Nov. 8. Also on the Colorado ballot for the U.S. Senate seat are:
- Lily Tang Williams, Libertarian
- Arn Menconi, Green
- Bill Hammons, Unity
- Dan Chapin, Independent
- Paul Noel Fiorino, Independent
- Dan Willoughby, Write-in
More: To hear a debate between Williams and Menconi on a wide variety of issues from health care to gun control, click here.