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The debate debate

Some Republican candidates stay silent, rely on big GOP voting blocs


Senate District 11 incumbent Ed Jones didn't show up at a Colorado Springs Black/Latino Leadership Coalition forum last month. But his seat didn't stay empty; hinting, and not so subtly, that Jones fears discussing the issues, supporters of Democratic challenger John Morse sat a scarecrow in his chair.

While all the statewide candidates for governor, attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state have already committed to multiple debates, it's a different story locally. Jones has refused repeated media inquiries as to whether he will ever attend candidate forums or debate Morse for the west side seat. And other prominent Republicans are taking similar tacks.

While one would think debates and forums are necessary parts of the election process, Colorado College professor of political science Bob Loevy disagrees. In the case of El Paso County politics, Loevy says there is no reason for an incumbent candidate from the majority party to debate his or her opposition.

"These people are out to beat you, they want to take your place in Legislature they are not your good friends," he says. "And a rational person, when someone is out to defeat them, doesn't give resources to the enemy."

Dave Schultheis, R-House District 14, another no-show at the Black/Latino Coalition Forum, aspires to the state Senate in District 9.

Schultheis, while a state representative, found limited success; he failed to pass any of the major measures he sponsored seeking to restrict access to abortion, or to curtail illegal immigration. He even drew sharp public criticism from Gov. Bill Owens, a member of his own party, after attacking HB 1023, a bipartisan illegal immigration bill.

But while running for a seat in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats and unaffiliated voters combined, Schultheis has indicated through an aide that he will never debate Democrat Keely Marrs, an Army veteran who grew up in District 9.

While his office did not provide any rationale for his refusal to debate, Loevy cites Schultheis' name recognition, his years in the Legislature, and the overwhelming Republican electorate in District 9 as reasons why he can logically decline.

Among other local Republican candidates, Marsha Looper (House District 19), Amy Stephens (House District 20), and incumbent Rep. Mark Cloer (House District 17) have not attended any debates. They could not be reached to confirm attendance at any future debates.

Local forums and debates

Working with other community agencies, the Independent has scheduled a few debates and forums in town. There are plenty more planned for the next few weeks, and undoubtedly even more still to be scheduled. Check the candidates' Web sites for the most up-to-date information.

Local Ballot Initiative Forum, co-sponsored by Citizens Project

Carnegie Room at the Penrose Public Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave.

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 5:30 p.m.

For more information, call co-sponsor the Citizens Project at 520-9899

Secretary of State and Attorney General Debate, co-sponsored by the El Pomar Foundation and Citizens Project

Penrose House, 1661 Mesa Ave.

Monday, Oct. 16, 5:30-7 p.m.

Space is limited; RSVP by Friday, Oct. 13, by calling 577-7088 or e-mailing Reception to follow; business attire requested.

Statewide Ballot Initiative Forum, co-sponsored by Citizens Project and the League of Women Voters

Carnegie Room at the Penrose Public Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave.

Tuesday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m.

For more information, call co-sponsor Citizens Project at 520-9899.

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