Originally published on October 2, 2014 8:53 am
It's a race that is largely flying under the radar in Colorado this election season, owing to what many say is its preordained outcome. Republican Ken Buck and Democrat Vic Meyers, the candidates vying for the open seat in Colorado's vast 4th Congressional District, squared off Wednesday in a debate hosted by Colorado Public Television and CBS 4.
This was the third such meeting for the candidates in advance of the mid-terms.
"I've met with farmers and dairyman, and business people and doctors and everybody I can meet with," said Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck. "I'm very excited about the reception we're getting, but I don't take this for granted at all, we're fighting every day to earn every vote."
Running in what is largely a conservative district, Vic Meyers, a former Department of Corrections case officer living in Trinidad, acknowledged the tough climb he faced.
"They figure since it's so gerrymandered they can put anyone as extreme as they want and he's going to win. Well, I don't believe this is a tea party district," said Meyers.
Having left his job to focus on the campaign – even though he knows the odds are stacked against him – Meyers said he's running to send a message to Washington about a Congress that's dysfunctional.
"If we just send them back what they're expecting to get then they're going to be encouraged and then the next two years is going to be as bad or worse than the last four years," said Meyers.
During the half-hour debate the two sparred on entitlement reform, the national debt and immigration. To that last point, Buck said he wants a functional guest worker program that approves qualified workers to come to the U.S. within a few weeks. He also wants to secure the border.
"We now have an outbreak of this deadly case of Ebola that has come across this country recently," stated Buck."We have criminals coming across this country, we may even have terrorists coming into this country. We need to secure our border."
Meyers responded by quipping, "The boogie man argument, you've gotta love it."
"The fact is the Ebola case didn't come in from the southern border it came in on an airplane," Meyers continued. "We don't have any terrorists coming across the southern border, the only documented case comes across in Canada."
Meyers said he wants to sit down with farmers, and immigrant activists in Northern Colorado to try and improve the Senate's immigration reform bill. He also supports more federal subsidies for new energy, such as a wind tax credit.
"We should either give renewables the same tax breaks we've been giving oil companies for over a hundred years or we should take away those tax breaks for the oil companies so that it is a level playing field," said Meyers. "We have tremendous resources out there. We have wind farms in Lamar and in Lincoln County and Logan County that can’t turn all the time because we don’t have the infrastructure that will handle it."
Ken Buck countered that it's important for all energy sources to compete in the marketplace to drive down costs. With the 4th District home to majority of Colorado's oil and gas drilling, he believes energy independence for North America is also achievable.
"And if we can build the keystone pipeline, which again is being held up in the Senate by Harry Reid and his friends, if we can help Mexico develop its energy reserves. And if we don't have a war on coal but treat all energy sources fairly I believe we can," Buck said.
The candidates did mostly agree when it came to President Barack Obama's recent stance on the Islamic state. But neither candidate thought the U.S. led air campaign alone was the best strategy.
Even if Buck is seen as the presumptive winner in fourth, the debate hosted by independent political analyst Eric Sondermann was a lively discussion.
"The 4th Congressional District, even in a neutral political year, would be an unbelievably tough lift for a Democrat and obviously we have a year trending to the Republican Party in terms of any national wave," Sondermann said. "So the Democratic candidate is pushing an even heavier ball up a steeper hill."
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