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Who Won’t Be At The GOP Governor’s Debate?

Tancredo - U.S. Congress / Gessler - Colorado Secretary of State
Former Congressman Tom Tancred (left) and Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler won't be at the GOP governor's candidate debate.

A crowded field of Republicans is hoping to keep Governor John Hickenlooper from serving a second-term in the November 2014 election. But recent polling from Quinnipiac University still shows the Governor ahead of his six GOP rivals.

Four of the GOP candidates, State Senator Greg Brophy, former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, businessman Jason Clark and businessman Steve House, will participate in a debate Tuesday night sponsored by the Denver Post.

Secretary of State Scott Gesseler and former Congressman Tom Tancredo and will not.

"Tom Tancredo has said all along that he would not participate in Republican debates which would be sort of ammunition for Democrats," said Colorado Statesman publisher Jody Hope Strogoff. " He doesn’t want there to be what he calls a circular firing squad. And he’s been pretty adamant about that for the last few months."

Interview Highlights

Why is Scott Gessler passing on the debate?

“Gessler had been attending some of the joint forums with Republican candidates but not recently. Last week he explained that he’s not going to the debate because without Tancredo, who he admits is a leading candidate, [it] kind of defeats the purpose. Also, he’s under fire from one of the minor candidates who is participating, Jason Clark, that he has a conflict of interest as Secretary of State. And I think Gessler, again, is trying to avoid being criticized by his fellow Republicans.”

What kind of debate can people expect with only four of the six candidates present?

Colorado Statesman

“Just because Gessler and Tancredo are not there I don’t think that means they won’t be subjected to, perhaps a little bit of, I don’t know if it’s teasing is the word – but I’m sure their names will be mentioned  … and Greg Brophy has been very vocal about Tancredo not participating in the debate and also having been the standard bearer for Governor in 2010 on the American Constitution Party Ticket. And you can be sure that will be brought up. It’s sort of a sore point with sort of stalwart Republicans that Tancredo abandoned the party four years ago.”

Tancredo is bypassing the June GOP Primary in favor of petitioning his way on the ballot - what does that entail?

“The petition process actually started February 2, and candidates have 60 days to garner 1,500 petition signatures in each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts. And they have to come from registered Republican voters. If they can secure those and they’re verified they get can get on the petition. That’s in contrast to the more traditional way of going through the caucuses and then the state assemblies of which Tancredo said he may also do that sort of guarantying himself a double way to get on the ballot.”

Jody Hope Strogoff is the publisher of the Colorado Statesman.

Jody Hope Strogoff is the editor and publisher of The Colorado Statesman. The Statesman is a non-partisan political weekly newspaper, founded in 1898. Jody began working at the newspaper in the late 1970s, later purchasing the publication in 1988. She discusses the state’s political scene each Tuesday at 6:35 and 8:35 during KUNC’s Morning Edition.
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