It’s difficult to remember everyone who sought the Republican nomination for President in 2015, but just for fun, let’s see how you fare before you read any further; can you name the 17 (seventeen!) GOP Presidential candidates who participated in the first big debate in early August? We’ll give you a hint: There was something called a “Jim Gilmore” on stage in Ohio in August…
…The October 28 Republican Presidential candidate debate in Boulder was one of the biggest political stories of 2015 in Colorado. The debate generated international news coverage well in advance of Oct. 28, thanks to the Republican National Committee’s strange insistence on allowing only about 1,000 seats in the 10,000-seat Coors Events Center. For nearly two months prior to the debate, there were scores of stories about protests from the University of Colorado student government and other CU students, ProgressNow Colorado, and many other local and national interest groups.
The entire event became quite the headache for CU President Bruce Ben$on and the University in general. It didn’t help that the debate itself turned out to be pretty damn boring. CNBC had built-up the debate as the first to focus on economic issues in 2015. In theory, perhaps, that sounded like a good idea; in reality, two hours of economic discussion ended up being about as interesting as listening to your grandmother talk about who she saw at the grocery store last week.
Nevertheless, the Boulder debate was your last real opportunity to see most of the GOP candidates together in one place; when the lights went on for the final 2015 debate in Las Vegas in mid-December, the GOP field had essentially separated into a top tier of just a handful of contenders. At the time of the Boulder debate, there were still 14 candidates punching it out; 10 were on stage for the main debate, with another four on the dais for the “junior varsity” or “kids’ table” debate.
Oct. 28 GOP Presidential Debate in Boulder, CO.
As the calendar turned to 2016, only 11 Republican candidates are still seeking their Party’s nomination — well, 12 if you count Gilmore, who hasn’t dropped out but doesn’t really need to bother making it official. Of those final 11, there are really only 3-5 candidates who still have a legitimate chance of winning the GOP nomination: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb! Bush and either John Kasich or Chris Christie. Jeb! is still sort-of viable because he has so much money in the bank; Christie could get a boost if he manages to do well in New Hampshire; and Kasich is still hanging around as the last relatively-sane Republican in the race, who could still receive a bump if wealthy establishment Republicans really freak out.
Two candidates bowed out before the Boulder debate (Rick Perry and Scott Walker), and several more have left the campaign trail for good since the end of October (Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki). Several candidates (Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and Carly Fiorina) are hanging on by the thinnest of red threads and likely won’t be around for long after the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses; Huckabee, in fact, has already said that he will end his campaign without a Top 3 finish in Iowa. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is still in the race, and he’ll probably hang around until the last campaign dollar is spent or until FOX News gives him a talking head contract.
For Colorado politicos, the Boulder debate was also their first (and in many cases, only) opportunity to see the GOP candidates live and in-person. By Oct. 28, most of the Republican field had not made a public appearance in Colorado, and the majority still have not put loafers on the ground on the 38th state. With the top tier of candidates pulling away from the rest of the field, we may not see more than a couple of the Republican candidates making a stop in Colorado. Of course, the fact that Colorado Republicans won’t hold a preference poll at their March caucus makes Colorado largely irrelevant in the delegate roundup.
For one night in late October, Colorado – and Boulder, of all places – was the epicenter of the Republican Presidential race.