The Republican candidates for U.S. Senate met on Tuesday evening (Jan. 25) for a candidate forum at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood. The forum was moderated by State Republican Party Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown and Republican political operative Michael Fields, who is presented as the “President of Advance Colorado Institute,” whatever that means. Lakewood, BTW, is located in Jefferson County, where there is still a mask mandate in place; nobody in the room appears to be wearing anything on their face other than looks of bewilderment.
In attendance: State Rep. Ron Hanks; former Ft. Collins City Council member Gino Campana; former El Paso County GOP Chair Eli Bremer; radio personality Deborah Flora; perennial candidate Peter Yu; and some professor guy named Greg Moore. Denver businessman Joe O’Dea couldn’t make it because he is recovering from recent back surgery.
We watched the entire forum and followed the action in our typical blow-by-blow manner made popular in previous “Debate Diaries.” You can watch the verbal intercourse yourself on YouTube, or read along for our perspective below.
NOTE: What follows is a chronological re-hash of Tuesday’s debate. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time and/or the prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you want to skip the back-and-forth and just get to our takeaways, here they are:
♦ Ron Hanks actually seems to be the only candidate to put any real thought into an answer. A lot of what he says is insane, but it’s a considered insanity that caters to a Republican Primary electorate. If Hanks can raise even a decent amount of money, he’s going to be tough for other Republicans to dislodge.
♦ Gino Campana is running in the traditional Colorado Republican “say nothing of substance” lane. His main goal is uttering the phrase “American dream” as many times as possible. Other than that, Campana clearly just wants to keep his head down and hope he can sneak onto the General Election ballot.
♦ Deborah Flora would like to run in the same lane as Campana, but she struggles to make her platitudes sound coherent. Flora comes across as someone trying to give a book report based on the Cliff’s Notes.
♦ Eli Bremer hasn’t been able to gain much traction despite being the first (plausible) Republican candidate in the race, and this debate shows why. It’s hard to take Bremer seriously on any topic; he spends most of this forum pointing out friends and family in the audience.
♦ Peter Yu just seems like he enjoys being on a stage where people have to listen to him talk for awhile.
♦ Greg Moore is not a serious candidate. Full stop.
Now, to the diary!
00:00 Kristi Burton Brown (KBB) kicks things off by talking about how Republicans are going to beat Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet in November. “We are running on the Republican commitment to Colorado,” says KBB, which includes prioritizing public safety; making things more affordable; school choice; and colonizing the moon (okay, we made that last one up).
The rules of this scrum are pretty standard, except for one: Candidates will not get extra time to respond to another candidate calling them out in an answer. Everyone in the audience gets a “straw poll ballot” that KBB urges them to submit AFTER the debate.
“We’ll be announcing the results tomorrow,” says KBB. “And any candidate is more than welcome to come to our office and watch us count the ballots tomorrow morning before we release the results.” This comment is probably directed at Ron Hanks, who predicted via Twitter before the event that the straw poll would be rigged against him.
3:15: Gino Campana is the first to make an opening statement. He says America rules! and that his father immigrated (legally) to the United States from Naples, Italy. Campana talks about his wife and his four children, and says that his construction company built “thousands of homes” along the Front Range of Colorado. “That’s why I’m running for the U.S. Senate – to fight for the American dream,” he says. Neat.
Campana blames Bennet and President Biden for all sorts of vague problems: “Look what they’ve done in just one year: Crime, inflation, our border, teaching our children to be ashamed of being American.” He then goes on to talk about how former President Trump appointed him to some pointless job that he never even started because it was in the last few weeks of Trump’s term in office.
4:34: Greg Moore is next. He sounds a lot like Kermit the Frog. Moore is apparently a professor at Colorado Christian University, where he teaches political science and international relations. “I’m worried about the economic problems,” he says. “There’s a lot of people suffering. People are doing drugs, and fentanyl, there’s more crime…things are going on because the Democrats’ policies are not going well, are they?” If you had bet that Greg Moore would be the first candidate to say the word, “fentanyl,” you may collect your winnings.
“Donald Trump had things going really well, but now it’s not so good,” says Moore. This guy is an actual professor at an actual college? Really? How pissed off would you be if you just learned that your son or daughter was in his class and you were paying tuition for this crap?
5:45: Ron Hanks takes the spotlight. He says he is a 32-year military veteran who retired in 2017. We already know that he is a state representative from HD-60 (Canon City).
“I am fighting right now, at this time, for our personal liberties,” says Hanks. Well, maybe not like, right now, but you get the idea. “I have bills in the hopper in this legislative session to develop and open up Second Amendment rights to full constitutional carry. No more of these permits, and I’ll tell you why we’re doing that – Joe Biden gave 650,000 weapons and 20 million rounds of ammunition to the enemy. The days of gun control in America are over.”
Hanks doesn’t try to explain this point any further. In fact, he doesn’t say anything else. Apparently this was his opening statement in its entirety.
6:50: Eli Bremer takes the mic. He points out that his parents are in the audience, which kinda gives his opening statement a dance recital feel. Bremer talks about his parents moving to Colorado Springs when he was 3 years old and “sponsoring” Air Force cadets. Bremer says he went to the Air Force Academy himself and served 14 years “active duty and reserve.”
Bremer then says that he participated in the Olympic Games in Beijing, China in 2008, without any additional context or mention of what sport. It’s a bit odd, but we can understand from one perspective: Good luck explaining the “modern pentathlon” in 30 seconds. “There is no place like the United States of America,” he concludes. “I am unabashedly in love with our country.”
It’s strange how much the candidates are going out of their way to convince the audience that they really, really, really love the United States of America…like that’s some sort of unique qualification.
7:58: “I’m Deborah Flora and I have great news: The 14-point swing toward the Republican Party is proof that there is a great awakening happening [and] not a great a-WOKE-ening.” This is literally the first thing that Flora says. We have no idea what she’s talking about, and judging from the lack of response from the audience, we aren’t alone.
Flora then transitions to how she once traveled to the Soviet Union, which might be interesting if this were 1984. She then says that Democrats are trying to “decriminalize crime.” That line probably made a lot more sense in her head.
“I am uniquely qualified to reach out to our fellow citizens who are now awake and are the reason for the win in Virginia.” We assume she’s talking about Republican Glenn Youngkin getting elected Governor in November 2021, but we’re as lost as the rest of the audience as to what this has to do with the U.S. Senate race in Colorado.
9:05: Peter Yu is very blessed and happy to be here tonight. His parents came to the United States in 1969 and had seven children. Yu says that he is “someone who understands what you’re going through on a daily basis. Someone who knows what it’s like to sleep on the floor and work multiple jobs.” Um, okay.
“Guess what, the State of Colorado has close to 154,000 square miles, AND we have 64 counties.” Is Yu getting extra credit for this presentation? What is happening right now?
10:15: Opening statements are mercifully complete. Michael Fields announces that there will now be seven questions with one-minute limits for each answer. The first question is about how the candidates plan to win a General Election given that Unaffiliated voters make up 43% of the Colorado electorate.
10:45: Greg Moore starts off with something about a “red wind blowing.” He then uses the phrase, “unleashes entrepreneurial activity.” God Bless his poor students. Let’s just skip ahead.
11:54: Ron Hanks, have at it: “The way I see it, we tell the truth. We give them [the voters] the assessment of what we see the risks in our nation are and who the cause and who the culprit of these issues is.” That’s word-for-word. We swear. It was almost certainly English.
Hanks says that all Coloradans and Americans understand that President Biden is incompetent. “The public and the population is coming into our realm here. All we have to do is speak the truth and tell them what we believe.” Roger!
13:00: Bremer thinks this is a great question. He says his dad was a county commissioner and had a saying, “Go pick an agreement with someone.” That’s a pretty good line, but Bremer nosedives from here.
“After the Larry Nassar scandal in the Olympics, I helped lead reforms through the entire United States Congress to protect young girls from being molested by their coaches,” says Bremer. “You want to know something interesting? Michael Bennet should have led the effort. He’s the chairman of the Olympic caucus.”
14:00: Flora goes next, and says that Republican values and principles “are exactly where they should be.” She says that she is the founder of something called “Parents United America,” and has been “behind this entire grassroots movement where we have seen parents standing up.”
Flora finishes up her time by talking about…Virginia. Again.
“The team behind the Youngkin win in Virginia is a part of my team. We’re going to use that playbook to take back the seat and take back this country and have a systemic shift going forward.”
15:30: Peter Yu says that almost 1.7 million Colorado voters are “Unaffiliated.” Nobody on stage has memorized more random facts than Peter Yu.
Yu concludes by saying that the best way to reach Unaffiliated voters is to go out and talk to them. Compelling stuff.
16:33: Campana says that the “biggest problem in America today, and for Coloradoans as well, is the single-party rule and the socialist spending and socialist legislation that is taking place in Washington D.C.”
Pro-tip for Gino: NEVER say “Colorad-o-an.” Always say “Coloradan.” If you’re going to pretend that you are the candidate who appeals to the average Coloradan, you should probably SOUND LIKE ONE. “Colorad-o-an” might be technically correct, but nobody says it that way.
Campana continues with not answering the actual question by saying that Michael Bennet “probably doesn’t even fill up his tank with gas…probably can’t tell you how much a gallon of milk costs.” This is rich stuff coming from a guy who is, well, rich; Campana wrote his own campaign a $500,000 check in December.
Anyway, inquiring minds want to know: What DOES Michael Bennet put in his gas tank?
17:42: New topic from KBB: How would you overhaul the budget process in Congress? So exciting!
18:00: Ron Hanks is up first. He says he would refuse to vote for any new “continuing resolutions” or “omnibus spending bills” if elected to the Senate. Then he says this:
“This federal government is completely unresponsive to the people, and in the case of Donald Trump, to the chief executive. Therefore we should cut the size of the federal government down to 30 percent of its current size.”
That’s right: Hanks wants to cut 70 percent of the federal budget. Totally reasonable.
Hanks finishes with a familiar complaint from right-wing Republicans: He says we should eliminate the Department of Education and the Department of Energy altogether. This answer generates a smattering of cheers, which is the first audible response from the audience thus far.
19:10: Eli Bremer says he likes this question; liking questions seems to be part of his shtick.
Bremer talks about being a fiscal conservative, then launches into a diatribe about how the process of “continuing resolutions” has left the U.S. military unable to “advance military systems like hypersonic weapons,” which has something to do with Ukraine and Russia that he doesn’t explain.
“This is not a victimless crime,” says Bremer. This is not a crime at all, but whatever.
20:03: Deborah Flora starts off by talking about how she handles lots of budgets, from her own household to other nonprofit organizations.
“What I would do first and foremost is remind government that it has simply one job: That is to protect the individual liberties of its citizens.” Flora apparently thinks “government” is some person in Washington D.C. who just needs a good lecture.
Flora then immediately contradicts herself: “The number two thing it is supposed to do is actually make a budget.” So much for the “government has simply one job” line.
“I would revisit something that is called ‘No budget, no pay,’” she continues. “Let’s face it – in 1997 we had a balanced budget. I would stand for that also.” Flora concludes with the standard Republican tripe that the federal debt/deficit is going to bankrupt future generations. (Note: We know that debt/deficit are not the same thing, but they are in this answer.)
21:00: Peter Yu says government spending is the single greatest threat to the future of America.
22:15: “The national debt is just crushing the American dream,” says Gino Campana.
[Note: Campana re-takes the lead in the number of times one candidate has said “American dream.”]
“When did we start talking about trillions rather than billions?” asks Campana. It’s, um, been quite awhile now.
Campana then talks about his experience as a Ft. Collins City Council member in listening to citizens making the case for or against budget proposals. “And I had to sit there and make the hard decisions as a city councilman and decide, where was the role of government and where wasn’t the role of government.”
In Campana’s last year on the Ft. Collins City Council (2017), the city budget was $619 MILLION dollars. The current federal budget is about $7 TRILLION dollars. As comparisons go, this is apples to airplanes.
23:27: Greg Moore complains that Democrats just want to spend money while Republicans want to be fiscally responsible. “Their way doesn’t work. It worked really well the last four years, but this year it’s not been so good.” Say what?
Again, this guy is a political science professor. Not so good.
24:30: New topic via Michael Fields: What should the U.S. do about a potential conflict between Russia and Ukraine?
24:45: Eli Bremer goes first and does not say that he likes this question. He does blame President Biden for not doing enough to give more weapons to Ukraine. Bremer says he studied Russian at the Air Force Academy and has “a tremendous amount of experience in the region.”
“This was a predictable predicament,” adds Bremer artfully. He concludes by comparing Biden’s failure in Ukraine to the U.S. failure to anticipate 9/11.
Let that sink in for a moment.
25:52: Deborah Flora: “When I was in the Soviet Union during the coup, there was someone behind that named Ronald Reagan. And when I would speak to fellow people there, and I would speak to some of the Soviets, they said the reason that we collapsed is that we knew that America meant what it said.” Let’s pause for a second to enjoy the phrase “fellow people.”
Flora says that the problem in Ukraine is because of how President Biden withdrew American forces from Afghanistan, then she gets even more ridiculous: “Our President just said that he cannot guarantee the safety of Americans in the Ukraine. That is inexcusable.” She concludes by saying that “we have to strengthen our military once again.”
In summary…we got nothing. Sorry.
27:11: Deep thoughts from Peter Yu: “The thing about Russia is that it’s really none of our business what’s going on there. We shouldn’t be involved.” Naturally, Yu then declares that the United States should sanction the Russian oil and gas industry and “control” Russia’s banking system.
28:10: Gino Campana revs up the cliche machine. “While [President] Trump sent Ukraine bombs, [President] Biden sent them blankets.” Try not to pull a muscle rolling your eyes.
“A few months ago, we might have been talking about, ‘Oh, gosh, what’s going to happen? Is this going to embold [sic] Putin? Is this going to embold [sic] China?’ Now we are seeing that it is.” Lincoln-Douglas this is not.
29:00: Greg Moore says that the U.S. should threaten Russia with our Air Force. Thank God Greg Moore doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning this race.
30:35: Ron Hanks opens by talking about serving in Kazakhstan in 2016-17 and about conversations he had with a Russian translator regarding the region’s history. This is actually an interesting answer. “Russia is basically a demographically-dying nation,” he says.
31:45: New question from KBB: What is the biggest threat to public safety in the United States today, and how would you solve that problem?
32:00: “The rise in crime is just absolutely…it’s unconscionable, what is happening,” says Deborah Flora. “Carjackings are up 500%”
Flora then transitions to the U.S.-Mexico border, calling it a “humanitarian crisis and a crime crisis. There are women and children being trafficked and then left under bridges.” The hyperbole is on full blast now.
You know where this is heading. “We have rolled out the red carpet for fentanyl,” says Flora. “It is coming straight up I-25 and straight out I-70.”
And how do we solve this problem? “There’s much that we can do from Washington and also work with state leaders as well,” says Flora unhelpfully.
33:11: “I agree with Deborah,” says Peter Yu. “It is scary to go outside…it is terrifying to go outside.”
Let’s move along.
34:18: “We’re at a 25-year high,” says Campana. He does not elaborate on that statistic, but he does talk about people stealing hammers from Home Depot and then using those hammers to break into other stores. And also, there are too many people crossing the Mexico border.
35:25: Greg Moore says our biggest problem in the United States is a lack of respect for history. Greg Moore is an imbecile.
36:31: Ron Hanks talks mostly about securing our southern border and about the many field trips he has taken to gaze lovingly at President Trump’s pieces of wall. Later, he blames George Soros for helping to elect district attorneys in Colorado who don’t enforce laws, or something.
37:43: Eli Bremer opens by saying that he met with Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and that they talked about how America has a “culture” problem. He yammers on for a bit, then inexplicably concludes with a statement opposing the idea of packing the Supreme Court.
38:50: New question from Michael Fields about changes that need to be made to America’s immigration policies.
39:00: Peter Yu has memorized some numbers relating to the number of illegal immigrants who have entered the U.S. in recent years.
40:08: Gino Campana says that he doesn’t think the Biden administration even HAS an immigration policy. He says that we should make people stay in their own countries until their applications for citizenship are approved. Campana does not explain how he thinks this could possibly be enforced.
He also says “American dream” for the third time tonight.
41:11: Greg Moore says some stuff.
42:20: Ron Hanks must have dozed off, because he asks for the question to be restated. He mostly rambles with his answer here, eventually coming to the conclusion that people who want to come to America should just stay in their own countries until their applications are approved.
43:40: Eli Bremer says this is really simple. “I call it ‘the 3 by 3 plan’…Build the wall, remain in Mexico, and enforce the law.”
Bremer then says these words: “Bam! Solved our immigration problem, right?”
Bremer continues by saying that he is “the opposite of anti-immigrant” and that “liberals” erroneously believe that “this is going to be a big voting bloc for them.” What is going to be a voting bloc? Non-voters?
Bremer concludes by pointing out a friend of his in the audience who is from Lithuania. Neat.
44:45: Deborah Flora says all the buzz phrases: sex trafficking, fentanyl, yada, yada.
46:00: Time for a new question with a little more focus from KBB: What is Michael Bennet’s #1 failure, and how would you correct it?
46:20: Gino Campana is first, and he decides instead to reiterate that he supports LEGAL immigration. Then he returns to his strategy of saying nothing very loudly.
“Michael Bennet was handpicked by the liberal bureaucrats in [Washington] D.C. to represent the liberal bureaucrats of [Washington] D.C.”
Yawn. Campana doesn’t bother to answer the rest of the question.
47:25: Greg Moore claims that Cory Gardner accomplished five times as much in one term as Michael Bennet has accomplished in two terms. Moore also does not answer the question.
48:20: “Michael Bennet has done nothing to restore American energy independence,” says Ron Hanks. “Michael Bennet has done nothing to resecure our borders. Michael Bennet has done nothing to restore manufacturing dominance in the United States of America.”
Hanks stumbles a bit here while adding that Bennet hasn’t done anything to re-secure our supply chain with China. He adds a few more things that Bennet “hasn’t done,” which starts to get repetitive, but at least he made an effort to actually answer the question. What he doesn’t do, however, is talk about what he would do differently.
49:30: Eli Bremer tells a convoluted story about being on an airplane with Michael Bennet and overhearing a discussion between Bennet and Montana Sen. Jon Tester about supporting the Biden agenda. If there is a point to this story, we didn’t find it.
“The first thing I’ll do is vote for a Republican to be the leader of the Senate so that we can block everything [Biden] is trying to do,” concludes Bremer. In other words, after attempting to berate Bennet for being overly partisan, Bremer promises himself to be overly partisan. Great work.
50:30: Deborah Flora rips Bennet for being a “career politician,” then says something about Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden having “a combined 70 years” in Washington D.C. She concludes by promising to only serve two terms in the U.S. Senate.
51:35: Peter Yu unironically says that Bennet’s biggest problem is that nobody knows who he is. If elected to the Senate, Yu promises that everyone in the room will get his personal attention.
52:40: New question from Michael Fields: If you could have only one signature piece of legislation, what would it be?
52:50: Greg Moore says that, gosh, there is just SO much he wants to do. His answer is the equivalent of someone in a job interview saying, My biggest weakness is that I just try too darn hard!
Eventually Moore actually answers the question, sort of, by saying that he would promote more oil and gas production in the United States in order to “bring down the price of gas.” That’s…not how this works.
54:02: Ron Hanks has got it all figured out. “Balanced budgets,” he says. “The federal government lies to us when they tell us the inflation rate is 7%.”
“The federal government is lying to us when they tell us that our debt is $30 trillion dollars. I would wager it is twice that. And when you add unfunded liabilities, it is probably 5 to 6 times that [amount].”
The national debt is actually closer to $180 TRILLION? Surely Hanks has some data to back this up, right?
“When they admit to a $30 trillion debt and they lie, like they lie about COVID, and the vaccines, and…what do you think the debt actually is?”
This is idiotic, but we’ll give Hanks credit for trying out a new conspiracy theory tonight. The federal government is lying about inflation AND the national debt. Got it.
55:00: Eli Bremer says that his signature piece of legislation “would be actually trying to take a page out of Sen. Tim Scott and Donald Trump.” Bremer says something about “opportunity zones” and “capital gains” and “strategic industries.”
What we need to do, says Bremer, “is actually grow our economy.” Brilliant!
56:05: Flora has an actual answer to this question: She wants to create some sort of “single subject” rule for legislation. And then a balanced budget amendment. Oh, and then a parental bill of rights. Presumably these would be different bills, because of the single-subject thing.
57:15: Peter Yu says “the best thing that we can do is get people back to work,” followed by another obligatory “American dream” reference.
Yu is closing on Campana in the number of “American dream” references in one debate; our unofficial scorecard has Campana with a 3-2 lead tonight.
Oh, wait…ANOTHER “American dream.” We’re now tied 3-3!
Yu says he would propose a bill that says “let’s get people back to work,” and then…he does it again! He says “American dream” for the third time in one answer! Take that, Gino!
58:22: Gino Campana proposes legislation to get America’s “energy independence” back. According to Campana, the United States was energy independent up until the point that Joe Biden took office. We’re gonna need a fact check here.
Campana then takes a page from Yu and talks about getting people back to work and off the government cheese, yada, yada. He has a personal anecdote here that he probably should never say out loud again: “We have a restaurant that’s one of our businesses. We’re paying $25 an hour to get a dishwasher to show up. We shouldn’t have that in our country.”
Campana is genuinely upset that he is not able to pay substandard wages anymore. Cool guy.
Campana stammers a bit longer about manufacturing and a Q-tip shortage or something. He eventually just trails off and concludes with the same shrug that everybody else is feeling:
59:30: Kristi Burton Brown congratulates the candidates for “surviving” the first hour of the debate. There are 30 minutes left. We’re moving into the “not-quite-lightning round” stage of the evening, with 30 second limits on answers. For the first question, here’s KBB: “There is a lot of talk about whether Republicans show how much we care often enough. What is one thing you care about that affects people’s everyday lives?”
[Please hold while we try to contain our laughter. Why would you phrase a question in this manner?]
59:55: Ron Hanks says that Republicans are unfairly vilified for not caring about the environment. He says his dad was in the timber industry and that he himself planted many saplings as a young lad. In conclusion, Republicans are good about forest management.
We’d give that about half-an-answer.
1:00:30: Bremer says that Republicans are good about supporting the military. He then starts pointing out friends from his Air Force Academy class who are in the audience tonight. Basically one out of every three people in the audience is someone Bremer brought with him.
“I think it’s great that we’ve moved on from the Vietnam era,” says Bremer. Same!
Judging by the responses from Hanks and Bremer, the candidates completely missed the entire point of what KBB was trying to do with this question.
1:01:10: “I think one of the reasons why CRT has woken up so many of our citizens is that it hit them right in the heart,” says Flora, opening with the mother of non-sequiturs.
“When you send your child to school and if they have less melanin in their skin they’re told somehow that they are inherently evil, everyone knows that’s wrong. If a child has more melanin in their skin and they’re told that they are inherently a victim, everyone knows that’s wrong.”
As we, and many others, have pointed out repeatedly on the issue of Critical Race Theory, this is all just a bogeyman. There is no evidence that CRT is being taught in public schools.
Anyhoo, Flora wraps up her response with what is easily the biggest pile of gibberish we have heard all night:
“We communicate that to our fellow citizens. They understand that is the crux of everything that is happening…between collectivism and individualism. Between Marxism and freedom. We can communicate to that heart, because it’s exactly where everyone is realizing and waking up.”
1:01:44: “So I don’t know if you guys can tell or not, but I’m a minority,” says Yu. This joke goes over about as well as you might expect.
Yu also makes no attempt to answer the question. He just repeats more rhetoric about how America is the greatest country in the world, etc.
1:02:25: Gino Campana just wants every American to be able to live “their version of the American dream.”
Campana moves back into a 4-4 tie with Yu on “American dream” utterances.
Gino then closes with this line: “In my blood is American blood, and that is what will give me the passion to be a great U.S. Senator for you.”
This forum has officially gone off the rails.
1:03:02: Greg Moore says “babies” and “also minorities and immigrants.” He says he has black friends that go to his church.
Why is Greg Moore here? Is it just because he works at CCU? Is his sole purpose to make the other candidates look intelligent by comparison?
1:03:44: Next question from Fields: Which current elected Republican official do you most identify with?
1:03:49: “Oh, we’re talking about identity politics here?” jokes Bremer. Even the crickets aren’t making noise in response to this zinger. That was one hell of a bomb.
Bremer recovers and says that he “has become infatuated with Ron DeSantis,” the Governor of Florida.
1:04:24: Now it’s Flora’s turn to #FAIL at comedy. “It’s hard to say who I would model myself after because it’s like, ‘Who do you want to be when you grow up?’” Flora laughs at her joke. Nobody else does.
She then references Rand Paul, though she doesn’t explicitly say that Paul would be her model. Flora finishes with some gibberish about the U.S. withdrawal of Afghanistan. It’s almost as if Flora is worried she’ll get an electric shock if she doesn’t mention this every few minutes, regardless of whether it fits the conversation or not.
1:05:00: Peter Yu says he’s a big fan of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem because “during the pandemic, she basically let the people of her state govern themselves.” Alrighty.
1:05:35: Campana says he likes Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, mostly as a way to remind the audience that he knows Tom Cotton and recently had a meeting with Tom Cotton, and that he knows Tom Cotton better than Eli Bremer knows Tom Cotton.
1:06:05: Greg Moore likes Ron DeSantis. Of course he does.
“Florida is a great place to visit because it’s fun and you don’t have to wear masks everywhere,” he says.
Can someone please turn off Moore’s microphone?
1:06:45: Ron Hanks has the best answer to this question. “I guess I wouldn’t emulate anybody,” he says. “I would go there with the principles that I have and the assessments that I have. I would look for allies as the situation arises.”
1:07:20: New question from KBB about which Senate committee each candidate would choose to be appointed to and why.
1:07:30: Deborah Flora talks about Afghanistan. Again. She says she wants to be on the Armed Services Committee, then she vomits out this nonsense: “Because it is time we find out how when you are supposed to get out, noncombatants, equipment, and then the military…how do we not do the first two? How did we allow…”
The microphone cuts out here because Flora has used up her allotted time…or perhaps because the microphone just felt sorry for her.
1:08:07: Peter Yu wants to be on the Appropriations Committee. He recites more numbers that he has memorized about things.
1:08:40: Campana says this is an easy question because he wants to be on the Agriculture Committee.
“Michael Bennet goes to the grocery store and thinks [the food] comes out of a box! He doesn’t know it grows on a tree!”
That’s literally where Campana stops talking.
To recap from earlier, Campana wants to know what Bennet puts in his gas tank, how much Bennet thinks a gallon of milk costs, and where Bennet thinks food comes from. Boy, this Bennet character is quite the dummy!
1:09:10: Greg Moore says he would like the Foreign Relations Committee, because that is the area he studies as a professor and he has written three books (!) on the topic. Then he says this:
“[I have] a lot of experience working in China. The Chinese people are great. Chinese food is great. The Communist Party is a big problem and it’s going to become…it’s coming to a neighborhood near you.”
Somebody is delivering Chinese food in our neighborhood? Sweet!
1:09:49: Ron Hanks cites the Intelligence Committee and the Energy Committee. He talks about his background in military intelligence for the first committee, and says he has expertise for the latter because he worked on fracking in North Dakota.
1:10:20: “It seems like inflation hit this one, so I’ll pick two as well, if that’s okay,” says Bremer. Seriously, Eli, please stop trying to be funny. You’re just making everyone sad.
Bremer likes Energy and Commerce and Armed Services.
1:10:55: Next question from Michael Fields: Describe what kind of Supreme Court Justice you would confirm.
What a waste of a question.
1:11:05: Peter Yu would support a Justice who follows the rule of law. Great.
1:11:40: Campana manages to avoid answering the question for 28 seconds before muttering that he would support the kind of Justices approved during the Trump administration.
1:12:10: Greg Moore says something.
1:12:51: Hanks likes him some Scalia and Clarence Thomas. He also wants term limits for Supreme Court Justices, which is interesting. In short, Hanks would support “a Justice who’s willing to leave after 11 years.”
1:13:20: Bremer says he wants to “clone Clarence Thomas.”
1:14:09: Flora wants an “originalist” Justice, then lectures the crowd on the fact that we have three branches of government in the United States, which she describes as “the best governmental system in the history of mankind.”
1:14:40: Kristi Burton Brown wants the candidates to explain why President Biden has low approval ratings. Boy, it didn’t take long for the moderators to run out of intelligent questions.
1:15:00: Campana jokes that Jimmy Carter is probably happy because his approval ratings are no longer the worst in modern history. We’ll give credit where it’s due: This is not a bad joke considering what we’ve heard from others tonight.
Then Campana gets weird: “Michael Bennet needs to own those numbers as well.”
Michael Bennet is responsible for Joe Biden’s low approval ratings? The microphone cuts off before Campana can try to explain further.
1:15:33: Greg Moore, blah, blah, blah.
1:16:15: “Joe Biden is an abject failure across the board,” says Hanks.
Hanks invites the audience to visit his website to read a copy of a letter he wrote to Biden on September 11, 2021. Okie-doke.
1:16:56: Bremer makes the obvious joke about “who are the 18% who approve of him?” At least someone finally laughs at one of his jokes.
1:17:31: “This is really our year,” says Flora. Okay, whatever.
1:18:10: Peter Yu actually answers the question and says Biden is unpopular because his policies don’t work.
1:18:50: Michael Fields asks the next question: Would you support a deal to cut $5 in taxes for every $1 in new government spending? This is oddly specific.
1:19:00: Greg Moore says he doesn’t think that is enough.
1:19:28: “Give me the numbers one more time,” asks Hanks. It hasn’t even been 30 seconds and he’s already forgotten the question.
Hanks says the premise of the question is wrong because the government lies about taxes and deficits and everything else.
1:20:20: “No, I would not take that deal, because the deficit is the growth of the debt, it’s not the debt itself,” says Bremer before citing the “Laffer Curve.” Bremer can’t even hit a softball from 10 feet away.
1:20:50: “I agree completely,” says Flora. With what?
Flora says that all we need to do is cut regulations and then businesses will make more money and the deficit will magically disappear.
She really just should have answered, “Yes.”
1:21:16: Peter Yu opposes raising any taxes because taxes hurt the economy.
1:22:00: “Absolutely not,” says Campana. “I’m all for simpler taxes and lower taxes.”
1:22:50: Brown has the final question before closing statements: “What hobbies are you interested in outside of politics? What do you do for fun?”
1:22:55: “I like heavy equipment, to be honest with you,” says Hanks. He is very fond of both his backhoe and his bulldozer.
1:23:25: “Probably, unsurprisingly, I like doing sports,” says Bremer.
I like doing sports. Just like other human voters residing in Colorado.
1:23:45: Flora jokes that she has forgotten what a hobby is, because she is super busy and important. She mumbles something else about spending time with family and “being outdoors.”
1:24:24: Yu says he is a football fanatic who played football in high school and college. Yu says he was “scouted” by the Arizona Cardinals and the Minnesota Vikings. Sure he was.
1:24:55: Campana says his hobby used to be coaching youth soccer teams, but now he is “an artisan bread maker.” Didn’t see that one coming.
1:25:30: Greg Moore says he enjoys murdering transients.
Just kidding – he mentions something about camping.
1:26:00: At last, closing statement time.
1:26:17: Peter Yu says a bunch of platitudes but misses his chance to say “American dream” one more time.
1:27:20: “I’m Gino Campana and I’m running for the U.S. Senate to fight for the American dream.”
And Campana surges ahead at the buzzer with his fifth “American dream” reference!
But wait, there’s more! Campana says “American dream” FIVE MORE TIMES. That’s a total of six “American dreams” in one closing statement and 10 for the entire debate!
The final tally is 10 for Campana and 4 for Yu.
1:28:32: Greg Moore is confused about whether it is his turn or Deborah Flora’s turn. Candidates have been answering questions in the same freaking order for 90 minutes, but NOW he’s having trouble following along?
1:29:24: “The Joe Biden era has been a disgrace and a failure,” says Hanks. He says he is running to resecure our energy independence, to resecure our borders, and to reestablish manufacturing. If it can be redone, Hanks wants to redo it.
“And by the way, we have to fight for the authenticity of the last election and make sure that election integrity is ensured for all future elections.” There it is…one last morsel of election conspiracy nonsense. Hanks knows what he’s doing, though: This draws the biggest response from the crowd of any answer tonight.
1:30:36: Bremer tells a story about an Olympic athlete set to compete in the Beijing Winter Olympics who needed his help to become a U.S. citizen. It’s not clear what this has to do with anything.
1:30:45: Flora says stuff like, “blessings of liberty” and “government overreach.”
“If we want to win, we have to do something different,” says Flora. This is an interesting statement given that everything else she says is just one rote right-wing platitude after another.
1:33:00: And, we’re done. Brown reminds the audience to cast their votes in the straw poll before exiting the building.
*Note: Campana ended up winning the straw poll, followed by Flora and Bremer.