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Hickenlooper, Gardner Present Opposing Views In Colorado's Final U.S. Senate Debate

Gage Skidmore
CC BY-SA 2.0

In their final U.S. Senate debate, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner and former Gov. John Hickenlooper clashed again over ethics, health care and the nation’s response to the coronavirus. But the candidates did not cover too much new ground in Fort Collins.

In one of their more heated exchanges, Gardner and Hickenlooper presented voters with very different views on environmental policy. Hickenlooper said he supports the country’s push to replace coal jobs with new ones promoting renewable energy.

“We are going to transition to a clean energy economy. And it’s gonna make six times more jobs than we lost,” he said.

Gardner said Hickenlooper’s plan would come at the expense of the state’s economy.

“If you work in oil and gas, he wants you gone from your job,” Gardner said. “If you work at a coal mine in Craig, Colorado, he wants you gone from your job.”

A series of yes and no questions revealed Gardner and Hickenlooper disagree on most of the ballot issues Coloradans will be voting on in November.

For example, Hickenlooper expressed support for Colorado joining a group of states wanting to award their electoral votes in presidential elections to the winner of the national popular vote. Gardner opposes the move.

Hickenlooper also supports a proposal to establish a new statewide paid family leave program. Gardner said he hasn’t made up his mind about Proposition 118 because he’s still looking into its potential impact on businesses.

In his closing statement, Hickenlooper said the race is a choice between him protecting people with pre-existing conditions and Gardner removing the Affordable Care Act. Gardner said he’s the third most bipartisan senator in the country. He trails Hickenlooper in all of the recent polls of the race.

The event was the last chance the candidates have to talk to voters on the same stage before the November election. The debate, moderated by 9News, also came right as many Colorado voters are finding their ballots in the mailbox.

Scott Franz is an Investigative Reporter with KUNC.
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