Colorado Public Radio reports on two more debates in Colorado’s red-hot Third Congressional District race that aren’t happening, and once you sort through the back-and-forth it’s clear why: because Republican candidate Lauren Boebert doesn’t want them to happen.
“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,” [Diane Mitsch Bush] 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: Boebert 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…
As for the LWV general debate, [Boebert campaign manager Laura] Carno said via email that Boebert participated in their primary debate and “didn’t feel the need to do this one a 2nd time.”
Playing hot potato over debates is an old game that campaigns always try to turn to their advantage, but here’s the score in CD-3 as of this writing: Democratic candidate Diane Mitsch Bush, along with even more fellow Democrats than in previous years, bailed out of the Club 20 debate for a variety of reasons. Any points awarded to Republicans for that were given up, however, when Lauren Boebert herself refused to show up to Club 20’s annual conference even to take questions in a friendly forum.
Now we have two more debates, one in Pueblo and one hosted by the League of Women Voters–and in both cases it’s Boebert’s campaign making excuses for why she can’t appear. Diane Mitsch Bush’s campaign drove this home in a press release today:
Diane challenged Lauren to a debate with the Pueblo Chieftain during the week of October 5-9 in a press release on August 19th. The two campaigns had previously agreed to debate that week in conversations with the Pueblo Chieftain, but Boebert’s spokeswoman Laura Carno never accepted the challenge. Boebert’s team now says that she has already scheduled events for the week of October 5-9th and won’t be able to fit a debate into her schedule.
The Mitsch Bush campaign worked with the Boebert campaign and the League of Women Voters to schedule a virtual forum. The two campaigns settled on October 8th, and then Boebert informed the League of Women Voters that she would not participate in the forum at all.
“Campaigns are busy, but they’re all about priorities. Lauren Boebert is ducking debates in Pueblo and before the League of Women Voters because she’s afraid to go toe-to-toe with Diane: a battle-tested independent leader with serious policy chops,” said Diane Mitsch Bush’s communications director Caleb Cade. “Lauren’s refusal to debate Diane shows that she is not prioritizing Pueblo or southern Colorado: a community often forgotten and ignored by politicians. We are committed to making this debate happen because Pueblo matters to Diane—whether that’s the first week of October or any other date.”
Everything we’re seeing here is consistent with what we’ve already heard: there is grave concern among Republicans that the more exposure Boebert gets, the more unqualified she appears to CD-3 voters putting the seat in jeopardy. As a result, it may well be that keeping Boebert out of sight is the better approach in an R+6 congressional district that elected Scott Tipton more or less on inertia for ten years.
Trouble is, hiding the candidate only broadcasts your worst fears. As a candidate starting at a credibility deficit with any swingable voter paying attention, Boebert needs every opportunity to refute this growing impression–which means skipping debates is a major missed opportunity, as long as what her critics allege, you know, isn’t true.
Either way, there’s nothing good for Republicans coming of this. It is weakness playing out.