Debates Are A Sticking Point For Lauren Boebert And Diane Mitsch Bush In Race For Colorado’s 3rd District

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Republican Lauren Boebert, left, and Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush

In every election cycle there seems to be a to-and-fro between campaigns over debates. And that’s holding true for the race in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

With just over two months until Election Day, no debates have been agreed to yet in this closely watched race. 

“A debate can only take place when two or more parties agree to debate. Lauren Boebert is the only 3rd Congressional District candidate who accepted the Club 20 debate and The Chieftain debates,” communications director Laura Carno said via email.

Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush declined the Club 20 debate, citing coronavirus concerns. She’s the latest in a line of Democrats to skip the traditional Western Slope venue.

Republican Lauren Boebert also pulled out this week from the Club event after it altered its format to a question and answer session. Club 20 executive director Christain Reece told The Daily Sentinel her campaign required for the questions ahead of time: “It appears that campaigns do not want to be accountable to voters, and trying to limit public exposure and don’t want to answer questions that are not scripted in advance.”

The Boebert campaign said it did not demand questions in advance.

Still, Mitsch Bush’s campaign pushed back on Boebert’s claims that she was dodging all debates, saying the Democrat had agreed to the Chieftain debate.

“We challenged Lauren to a debate to be hosted by the Pueblo Chieftain and a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters, but Lauren hasn’t accepted either challenge,” communication director Caleb Cade said.

While both campaigns agreed to the Chieftain debate in principle, they have struggled to settle on a date. The campaigns originally asked for different weeks: Bobert wants the first week of October, while Mitsch Bush said she couldn’t do that and asked for the second week in the month. When the Mitsch Bush campaign agreed to a date in the Boebert campaign’s preferred week, they said they heard nothing back.

Carno counters it took too long for the Mitsch Bush team to respond and the time was no longer available.

“We moved on with Lauren's schedule,” she said.

As for the LWV general debate, Carno said via email that Boebert participated in their primary debate and “didn't feel the need to do this one a 2nd time.”

The closest both candidates have come to appearing at the same forum during the general election has been the Colorado Water Congress last week. Mitsch Bush answered questions at the virtual forum, and Boebert submitted a pre-recorded video addressing the topic.