The Republican candidates for U.S. Senate got together last Thursday night in Weld County for another Election Year forum about issues and conspiracy theories. We couldn’t resist following along with another Debate Diary (click here for last month’s Debate Diary from the Senate forum in Lakewood).
Eight candidates sat shoulder-to-shoulder behind a long table at the Fort Lupton Recreation Center on Thursday evening. From left to right: Denver businessman Joe O’Dea; State Rep. Ron Hanks; Ft. Collins developer Gino Campana; professional candidate Peter Yu; former El Paso County Republican Party Chairman Eli Bremer; “professor” Greg Moore; and former radio host Deborah Flora. There’s one new face on the dais at the end: Pueblo resident Daniel Hendricks. Despite the fact that Hendricks doesn’t appear to have even officially filed as a candidate with the FEC, he’s on the stage with everyone else. You’ll be very happy about Hendricks’ inclusion — we promise.
Thursday’s debate was sponsored by the “Republican Women of Weld,” which is shortened to just “WOW” on a banner hanging behind the candidates. Inexplicably, the discussion is being moderated by someone who is neither a woman nor a resident of Weld County: Former Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, who is taking some time away from his regular schedule of doxxing public school teachers in Douglas County. We’ll see if Brauchler is better as a moderator than he was as a debater; you might recall that Brauchler bombed on stage as a candidate for Attorney General in 2018.
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.
Click here to watch a video recording of the “WOW” debate, or follow along after the jump as we go through the blow-by-blow:
If you want to skip the back-and-forth and just get to our takeaways, here they are:
♦ Joe O’Dea is better than we thought he would be. He offers genuine answers to questions most of the time.
♦ Ron Hanks is the only candidate who seems to understand that he should be pandering to a right-wing base. He does this well.
♦ Gino Campana says little other than the phrase “American dream,” but he did get caught late in the debate on a question about working in the Obama administration.
♦ Deborah Flora has absolutely nothing to say. Every answer is a dodge.
♦ Eli Bremer spends most of his time telling jokes that get no laughs. He just doesn’t seem all that serious.
♦ Peter Yu is Peter Yu.
♦ Greg Moore is wasting everyone’s time.
♦ Daniel Hendricks is amazing. We could listen to this guy talk all day.
Now, to the diary!
After multiple introductions, a prayer, and the Pledge of Allegiance, we’re finally ready to get started.
4:25: “Tammy, should I start talking?” asks Brauchler. “Okay, good.” Brauchler says that he is a substitute moderator taking the place of former Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams. Brauchler uses this information to make a dick joke that generates some confused laughter from the audience. We are not making this up.
For some reason, Brauchler is standing up in the back of the room, well away from the candidate table. He notes that Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams is the timekeeper tonight, and says that anyone who speaks for too long might get shot. This is probably a joke, but it’s hard to know for sure in a room full of right-wing Republicans.
Brauchler yammers on for awhile until finally announcing opening statements, adding that candidates should also speak about how they plan to seek access to the June Primary ballot (via petition or assembly).
7:15: We have a Joe O’Dea appearance! (O’Dea missed the last debate in Lakewood because he was recovering from back surgery). O’Dea says he is petitioning onto the ballot, then tells a story about how his parents enrolled him at Mullen (a private Catholic high school) and made him work as a dishwasher to pay for the tuition. That’s…weird.
O’Dea talks about the evil incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver). He says, “accountability is actually an act of love” and that it is his job to hold Bennet accountable for being beholden to President Biden. So…O’Dea loves Bennet? This is confusing.
O’Dea concludes by saying that he’s going to “kick Bennet’s drawers next November.” He’s going to give Bennet a wedgie? What?
9:10: Ron Hanks is next. He repeats his bio, focusing on a 32-year career in the Air Force that ended when he retired in 2017. Hanks confirms he will go through the assembly process for ballot access.
In the Lakewood debate, Hanks waited until the event was almost over before he talked about the “Big Lie.” Not tonight. “I am fighting for election integrity,” he says. “I dare say that I am the only candidate that will stand front and center on that… I have election integrity bills in the legislature right now…Joe Biden is a disgrace and I believe he’s unelected.”
Whoa! Coming in hot!
10:55: Here comes Gino Campana. We’ll bet you $100 that he says “American dream” at least once in his opening statement.
Campana says he is going the assembly route, then says, “Two words. Common words. American dream. When you put them together, they’re known throughout the world.”
Campana says “American dream” two more times before wrapping up his opening statement noting that he was appointed by President Trump to do a thing in the last month of Trump’s Presidency.
12:25: Here’s Peter Yu. “Some of you may not know my background,” says Yu. That’s probably a fair statement.
Just like in Lakewood, Yu seems ready to battle Campana over usage of the phrase “American dream,” but he only says it once in his opening statement.
14:15: Eli Bremer’s microphone is not working, so he borrows Yu’s mic. Not a good omen.
Bremer goes through his background stump speech, including his time in the Air Force and competing in the “sport of pentathlon” at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He says that he has visited “probably about 50 or 60 different countries,” which he cites as evidence for his belief that the United States is the best country ever. Bremer says “bold conservative leadership” and a bunch of other platitudes until his time runs out.
16:48: Next up is Greg Moore. We learned from the Lakewood debate that Moore is a buffoon. He reminds us of this right off the bat:
“I’m running for Senate because after 14 years in China, as a professor working as a political scientist – I don’t know what they were thinking when they would hire somebody like me to teach politics in China – but I began to see China turning into really a totalitarian country,” he says. Apparently China was a thriving Democracy 20 years ago. Moore says the U.S. should be more hawkish on China.
18:30: Deborah Flora takes the spotlight. Her responses during the Lakewood debate were mostly gibberish, so we’re curious to see if that performance was an aberration or a fairly accurate representation.
Flora says she’s going through the assembly route. She talks a bit about her bio and mentions that her husband is a veteran from the 82nd Airborne. “I say he’s six-foot-two on the outside, I’m six-foot-two on the inside,” she says. What in the hell does that mean? The audience seems just as confused.
Flora says that she traveled to the Soviet Union “during the coup” when she was Miss Colorado, and that this was the moment of clarity that convinced her to one day run for federal office. Alrighty. Looks like we have the answer to our earlier question.
20:18: Here’s our first introduction to Daniel Hendricks, who says – we’re not making this up – “I’m kind of a moron. I’m an ox and a moron.” This could be fun.
“I’m wearing my inheritance,” says Hendricks. “My daddy died three years ago. Everybody dies, like 100%. ONE HUNDRED! Everybody dies.”
“I sold life insurance for 25 freaking years, folks. I did four years at the IRS. I was never in the military. My wife divorced me. I hit $1.4 million dollars at the age of 40. Yeah, that’s right. I’m not broke. I’m debt free. This country is screwed.” We have no idea what’s going on, but this is amazing stuff.
“I was the Vice President of the young Republicans club,” he continues. “I sold my weed for $100 bucks an ounce back then, $25 a day for an ounce so I could buy some beer. That’s right. I sold it. I admit it, 100%. It was 25 freaking years ago.”
Hendricks finishes with a flourish: “Please send all checks made payable to Hendricks for Senate. I need your money. I don’t have squat. I’m only a millionaire. Please send your [unintelligible]. Thank you.”
Can we skip this debate and let Hendricks talk for 90 minutes instead? Please?
QUESTION: How much do you love the oil and gas industry?
21:53: Here’s our first question from George Doxxler: As a U.S. Senator, what policies would you pursue to support Colorado’s oil and gas industry?”
22:30: Joe O’Dea goes first.
“Look, I get started with just the conversation that happened this last week, Joe Biden grabs the guys from Qatar and OPEC and says, ‘Hey, we need you to bolster up oil and gas.’ And I’m wondering to myself, why in the hell didn’t you call Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota and ask us to go back into production? I don’t understand it. As your U.S. Senator, I will do my best to get rid of these policies that are holding us back. We need security. We need independence. And that only comes with us having those fuels here in Colorado. Thank you.”
What in the hell? This is absolute nonsense. That’s not how any of this works.
23:35: Ron Hanks talks about how he fracked for something in North Dakota.
“It is an easy thing to do,” says Hanks about the U.S. becoming energy independent. “You open up the leases again and, let me tell you, if we made a mess, we had it contained underneath the vehicles while we were fracking and we were concerned about it.”
24:47: Gino Campana starts with this: “There are over 350,000 jobs in the energy industry here in the State of Colorado.” That’s not true. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates around 81,000 energy jobs in Colorado, which is probably still too high of a figure.
He then blames Biden, Bennet, and Gov. Jared Polis for destroying the oil and gas industry in Colorado. “We’ve got leases stacked up on somebody’s desk for federal lands, but none of them are being signed,” says Campana. “We need to change that. I sat and had dinner with a commissioner in Glenwood Springs – been a Commissioner there for 28 years – he told me after Polis was elected, their revenues dropped 40% the first year, the second year 40% again, the third year, another 40%. They went from having a reserve of over $100 million to reducing that down to where they’re writing grants now for thousands of dollars, rather than millions of dollars. The impact is tremendous. who would have known, the minute you come into office, you turn off pipelines, that the fuel prices are gonna go up the way they have.”
This is all horseshit. Governor Polis has discussed these claims in detail on multiple occasions.
Things have really gone downhill since Hendricks fired off his bizarre opening statement. It’s almost like each candidate is now trying to out-crazy the newbie.
26:01: Peter Yu recites a bunch of baloney about how fracking and O&G extraction is totally safe and healthy in Colorado.
27:15: Eli Bremer gets silly:
“I would support, just like we’ve got the truth and lending policy, just like at McDonald’s, they say how many calories are on your cheeseburger. Whenever we run environmentally-friendly policies, we should have to do a global study and see that they actually reduce carbon emissions because guess what, those windmills, they’re probably net increase in carbon emissions. So are those solar panels.”
Not to mention the cancer and the bird genocide, right?
28:50: Greg Moore claims, as he did in Lakewood, that the U.S. was energy independent during the Trump administration. He says that’s no longer true. Whatever.
30:00: Deborah Flora wishes we could eat oil, or something. “This is an issue not just about the thousands of jobs that have been lost right here, which is terrible in and of itself. This is causing families around the state to be wondering, can I keep my home? Can I put gas in my tank and can I put protein on my children’s plate?”
Flora adds that she wants to “reopen the ability to drill on federal lands.”
31:20: “I love this woman,” says Hendricks. “She knows how to keep on going.” Fortunately, so does Hendricks.
“…the Constitution, it is, you have got section eight, one, seven. It is bankruptcy court, did you know that folks? What else do we do as a Senate in the United States. You go, you vote. You vote on those bills that they bring forward. You do it.”
Wait, there’s more! “You come in on December 1st. Why are you supposed to show up on December 1st, you brought your crops and that’s why. New York only had one person that signed that Constitution. I didn’t know that. I spent a lot of time reading the Constitution of America. God bless you. Well, let us never ever, ever fail.”
Right on, man.
QUESTION: How much do you love agriculture and small business?
33:00: Next question: How would you address agriculture and small business issues?
Ron Hanks goes first and repeats his idea to cut the federal budget to 30% of its current size. Hanks rails on the federal government in general, saying “It is weaponized. It is unresponsive, and it is putting Coloradans and Americans out of work in the agricultural fields, in the oil fields.”
Hanks’ response is completely insane, but at least he did answer the question.
34:20: Gino Campana says “American dream” for the fourth time, then repeats his usual rhetoric that Michael Bennet and/or Democrats don’t know where their food comes from.
“Next time you’re in the grocery store and you grab one of those Rocky Ford cantaloupes…so sweet,” says Campana. “Think about those farms and that fourth-generation farmer.” This is not an answer, but this is all you’re gonna get from Campana here.
35:30: Peter Yu spends a lot of time talking about the importance of protecting private property rights.
36:30: Eli Bremer starts out with some good old fashioned pandering. “I grew up on small family farm, we did 4-H. In fact when I think of Weld County what I actually think of is that you guys had a really good horse [UNINTELLIGIBLE] team when I was growing up.”
Bremer does have an answer to the question…sort of:
“One of my proposals will be very similar to Donald Trump’s opportunity zones, an opportunity industry,” says Bremer. “We will allow capital gains-laden capital to be invested in industries like agriculture, so we actually have more capital available.” Bremer doesn’t explain this any further, and neither can we.
37:58: Greg Moore says “lower taxes,” “lower spending,” “lower regulations,” yada, yada.
39:07: Deborah Flora says that “we” just need to tell the government “to get out of our business.” She says there are 1.5 million acres of irrigated farmland in Weld County. Flora must have been up late studying with Peter Yu.
Flora then starts talking about water rights, but it’s nonsensical. Basically, somebody told Flora, “Don’t forget to say the phrase ‘water rights,’” and then left her on her own. She suggests at one point that California should no longer be allowed to take from the Colorado River because the state hasn’t built a new dam in 40 years.
As we saw in the Lakewood debate, Flora clearly has no real grasp on any of the policy issues. Every one of her answers is just an incoherent combination of buzz phrases and right-wing rhetoric. If she has any television ads, you know what they’re going to look like: It will be shots of her hiking with her husband and/or dog while meaningless cliches are read aloud by a narrator.
40:20: Happily, it’s time to hear from Hendricks:
“I’m not from Colorado, I’m from Kansas, I make that perfectly clear,” he begins. “Um, I grew up in Kansas City. And I want to make it perfectly clear. My trust funds were about $3.5 million, my grandpa built those bridges and those highways. And I want to point out to you, I spent $1,400 on propane this year already. Already, I got to put another 20% of my tank, it’s going to cost me $180 to $200 [Hendricks’ voice rises and gets really loud by the time he hits ‘$200’].
“Now. with that established as a fact, I’m a little angry about this. Climate change is a hoax. It was done in the year 1995. It was a $15 million grant. I say no more cooking the books. N1+N2=N3. N1+N2+N3=N4. That is called economics. That is called socialism. It’s cooking the books. No more people.”
The audience claps politely. Most of them are too scared of Hendricks to do anything else.
41:25: Wrap this one up, Joe O’Dea:
“The number one thing I hear is red tape, I don’t know why we call it red tape, we should call it blue tape.” One person laughs quietly. Like, literally one person.
“Because it’s been put on us by the Democratic policies that we’re having, not only locally, but also nationally. So, as a Senator, I’ll work hard to make sure you read the blue tape and get this freed up so people can go to work.”
Blue tape. That’s cute.
QUESTION: Suppose Russia invades Ukraine?
42:20: Brauchler wastes a few minutes by making everyone – not just the candidates – raise their hands to indicate in what branch of the military they served. He finally asks a question about what the United States should do if Russia invades Ukraine.
43:53: First up is Gino Campana. “Listen Joe Biden’s weakness shown to the world is just crushing our American Dream.” We gotta hand it to Gino: He’ll try to shoehorn an “American dream” into ANY answer.
“Something that is most foundational to our American dream is safety and security. We still have people that want to come here for that safety and security. Right now, our allies, they don’t trust us, our enemies don’t hear us.”
Campana gets in a total of two “American dreams,” but does not answer the question.
45:05: Peter Yu says that we can’t ignore a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. During the Lakewood debate, Yu said that Russia and Ukraine were “none of our business.” If Yu had any realistic chance at winning the GOP nomination, this waffling would be important. But he doesn’t, so it isn’t.
46:17: Eli Bremer says the Russia/Ukraine problem “was 100% foreseeable.” Which is true, because major media outlets have been reporting on it FOR YEARS. Bremer blames President Biden for not selling Ukraine more Javelin missiles, or something.
Bremer says that if Russia invades Ukraine, it will then attack Moldova and Poland. That’s a bold statement, Cotton.
Bremer states and re-states that the Russia/Ukraine conflict is bad, but never actually answers the question.
47:15: Greg Moore says he wants to threaten Russia with an attack from the U.S. Air Force. He said the same thing at the Lakewood debate. We’re glad Moore has no chance here. We also said that after the Lakewood debate.
48:35: Deborah Flora goes off on one hell of a tangent: “Afghanistan’s where we lost the respect of the world. And this is very personal to me because my father was buried at Fort Logan cemetery a little over a year ago with honors. And while I miss him very much, I’m really grateful he was not allowed to see what happened in Afghanistan, because he served in Vietnam.” Got it!
Flora’s only attempt at an answer is to say that she would seek to get on the Armed Services Committee, for which she has no legitimate qualifications.
49:50: Let’s skip ahead to the star of this show, Daniel Hendricks.
“When you’re cussing at a man, that’s why he’s upset,” says Hendricks. “He knows you’re cussing at him in ancient Greek.” Does he, now? Also, what are we talking about?
Note: The next paragraph is a word-for-word quotation from Hendricks. If there were a context that would help this make sense, we would happily tell you about it. Instead…just read:
“My brother is Secret Service. He has to have you turn come after or blow my brains out if I ask him about his job. He works here in Denver. Did you hear me? He cannot talk to us about what he does. Because it is ultra-security clearance. They put in that Star Wars system. It was done for 100 billion freaking dollars, folks. It wasn’t even a trillion what we had in 2000. I told you they cooked the books.”
50:56: Joe O’Dea says President Biden shouldn’t be allowed to speak with a microphone anymore. Then he says he likes the idea of sanctions first.
“I would also support air, if we needed it,” says O’Dea. We are also in favor of air. This is definitely a winning message.
51:55: Ron Hanks laments that he doesn’t have more time to answer the question. “If Ukraine is attacked, China is going to do something in the Pacific,” says Hanks. “So if we get one, we’re going to get the other.” Hanks says that we should have already helped Ukraine get admitted to NATO. He pushes back a little on Bremer, concluding that he doesn’t think Russia has “the horse power” to attack beyond Ukraine.
QUESTION: Something about Mike Pence
53:07: George Brauchler asks a question about elections and a bill that is attempting to clarify the role of the Vice President in certifying the election. “Would you support such a change?”
54:17: Yu says he would not support it, then proceeds to talk as if he really didn’t understand the question [to be honest, neither did we].
55:31: Brauchler jumps in to clarify his confusing question. “Do you support legislation that would clarify that the Vice President’s role [in certifying the election] is only ceremonial? That he does not have authority [to make changes].”
“I just want to clarify that,” says Brauchler. Did Hendricks write this question?
55:54: Yu clarifies that, yes, he would support that.
55:55: “My fault,” says Brauchler.
56:00: Yu then says he has sinus issues and can’t hear very well at the moment.
56:07: “I’m right there with Peter,” says Bremer, who then spends the next 30 seconds talking about how much he dislikes Vice President Kamala Harris.
57:11: Greg Moore is having problems with his microphone. We should really just skip his turn, but eventually he gets things working and gives a long spiel about how Republicans don’t trust elections.
58:06: Deborah Flora uses a lot of words to say that she thinks we should make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. Got it.
59:19: Give it to us straight, Mr. Hendricks:
“I want to say thank you very much. I totally agree with that. And this election fraud is garbage. They freakin stole this election, don’t you tell me they didn’t. We had an extra 10 million bucks. I watched that Sheriff give that introduction for two freakin hours on that news channel. Last month or three months ago, whenever it was. He described how they did it. They stole it in Minnesota. I’m done.”
We have no words.
1:00:00: Joe O’Dea says he would support the legislation. Then he talks about nothing for awhile longer.
1:00:45: This question is right in the wheelhouse for Ron Hanks.
“Well, the numbers now are 59% of Americans believe there was election fraud. I would suggest strongly we keep the federal government out of any changes in the process. It is only in the interest of politicians. The elections belong to the state. I’ve got two bills in the statehouse right now on anti counterfeit ballot paper and on election systems, and that’s where the legislation ought to be, and not in the federal government. That being said, I will tell you that the electoral college is under attack in multiple states.
“And to the question of Mike Pence, Mike Pence had options. I wish he had exercised them. I do not think the legal team was on point at that moment. If he had been on point, we wouldn’t be talking about the terror that is Kamala Harris, right now.”
And this, friends, is why Ron Hanks is still the center of gravity in the GOP Senate race.
1:01:45: Campana’s logic on this answer is all over the place. “I would support anything that fairly simplifies our election system,” he says before pounding the table for stricter voter ID laws.
“The federal government has no place in what’s taking place in our state,” he concludes. Campana did not answer the question. Campana usually does not answer the question.
QUESTION: So, how about that “Big Lie”?
1:03:20: Brauchler presses on with a similar theme. “Was the 2020 election stolen from President Trump? And if the answer is yes, was it stolen here in Colorado.”
Nice — a “Big Lie” question! Get ready for some serious needle-threading.
1:03:32: Eli Bremer is very happy about this question. “I think it is important that we ask that question,” he says. “We probably should be asked at every forum.” This is not a question that has been asked at every GOP forum, but it will absolutely be included in every General Election debate.
“I started going around and I started looking at the elections, particularly here in Colorado…and when I looked at every part of our system here in Colorado, folks, I couldn’t find a way to break it. And in public, I said, until that happens. I have to accept that.
“I don’t think we did very well in the last election. And I think we’re gonna have to do better in this upcoming election. So I think that we need to accept that. We do need to keep our eyes on the electoral system. I think it’s okay to question things. I really do. But I think it’s time for us to move on.”
This is an interesting statement by Bremer because it touches on a big reason the “Big Lie” is still so prevalent. “I don’t think we did very well in the last election” is a hard truth to swallow for some people. It’s like blaming the referees when your team loses a big game.
1:04:40: Greg Moore says, “It clearly was not clear who won the election.” What a pandering schmuck.
1:05:50: Deborah Flora starts by blaming the mainstream media, suggesting that it is the MEDIA that is still obsessed with 2020. She must have missed what happened with her fellow Republicans early in the current legislative session.
“So we need to actually turn that question around on them,” she says. “The reality is the last four presidents have had their results challenged by parties of both sides.” This is true, to a degree, but what’s different this time (among other things) is that Republicans ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS two years later.
Flora never comes anywhere close to answering the question.
1:07:00: We’re going to include, in its entirety, every answer given by Hendricks because it is just so damn entertaining.
“Good question. Was 2020 stolen? Flat out, yes. Conversation over. Now it is very clear. It was 30-40-30 that 70-30 I was always in the minority.”
This might be our favorite Hendricks quote from this debate: “It was 30-40-30 that 70-30 I was always in the minority.” Roger, 10-4.
“It was five on their side and three on my side of the table. When I was Vice President of the Young Republicans club at Benedictine. There was three women to two men on that side of the table vs. me and oh, what the hell was his name? He was a big guy, he was a freaking DA today. Another guy did a freaking year in jail for PAC fraud. Did you hear me? He did a year in jail for campaign finance law. This shit will put you in prison. Now, what can we do about this? Well, you’re going to get up there and vote people, come November. You vote in June for me, Daniel Hendricks for United States Senate.”
As much as we’re enjoying Hendricks, we still have to ask: Why is he here? He has not filed paperwork with the FEC to be an official candidate. If he has a website, we haven’t been able to find it. Daniel Hendricks is the only person who seems to be saying that Daniel Hendricks is a candidate for U.S. Senate.
1:08:10: This is a question that Joe O’Dea has been pretty consistent in answering. “Well, I don’t believe the election was stolen,” he says. “Joe Biden is our President.”
1:08:35: Ron Hanks has pretty much the exact opposite message.
“Okay, here’s where I stand,” he says. “Trump won this. That’s why I went to Washington DC on January 6. That’s why I went to Arizona twice to watch the audit and I brought help on the second trip.” Neither of the two “audits” in Arizona came up with anything in the way of proof that there was fraud in the 2020 election.
“You asked about Colorado election systems,” says Hanks. “No, Colorado election systems are not secure.”
Hanks says voting machines are not secure because they are built in China. He insists that the machines have “wireless connectivity,” which is why fellow Republican State Rep. Mark Baisley wants to wrap them in tin foil!
1:09:51: Gino Campana has a story to tell that he might be misremembering. He says that he and his wife went to a 2020 election night party at the home of a friend, adding that they were particularly interested in the outcome because two of his daughters worked in the West Wing at the time.
Campana says they left the party around midnight feeling good about the outcome. “We’ve got this,” Campana recalled thinking. “We woke up in the morning and went, ‘What? How did this happen? Who started recounting? What took place?’”
Hold up. No sober person would have concluded at midnight on Election Night that Donald Trump was probably going to win. Hell, even Fox News had called Arizona for Biden. But it also wasn’t clear on Election Night that Biden was going to win, either.
If Campana was truly surprised that the election hadn’t been called for Trump by the time he woke up, then he might have eaten one too many weed brownies the night before.
Campana does say that he was unable to find any “hard evidence” of election fraud, which is about as close as he’s going to get to saying that the 2020 election was fair and square.
1:11:00: Peter Yu says Brauchler is asking the wrong question. The “right” question, according to Yu, is this: “Why do Democrats keep talking about this?”
Say what, now? Democrats are obsessed with the “Big Lie”? If that’s true, then why do Republicans keep talking about it at every debate?
QUESTION: How much do you hate Mitch McConnell?
1:12:15: Here’s the full question from Brauchler: If elected to the Senate, would you support Mitch McConnell to continue to be the Senate Republican leader?
1:12:50: Greg Moore hems and haws but finally says he would support McConnell.
1:13:45: Flora starts out by saying how happy she is that Merrick Garland is not on the U.S. Supreme Court. Flora repeats the well-traveled lie that Garland and/or the Biden administration called parents like her “domestic terrorists” [FACT CHECK: NOPE].
Flora has no intention of actually answering this question, which she calls “very complex.” Her basic point is that she would need to know who else was seeking the leadership position instead of McConnell.
1:14:55: Daniel Hendricks, the floor is yours:
“I totally agree with this lady. I can’t believe this. Why can I not disagree with somebody on my right? Right? Exactly. See how that works? The right side? Now, is Mitch McConnell, right? Well, I really don’t care. I like Ted Cruz. I look forward to working with the man. When I move to DC here next, after January 1, it’s very simple. What am I going to do? I am a constitutional person. I wrote constitutional law already. I’m going to change the constitution, we’re going to pass a bill of rights on healthcare reform folks. Did you hear me? I want to replace Obamacare. It was $30 trillion. It is 100% of the debt. Instead of bankruptcy, [UNINTELLIGIBLE], it will lead to Communist China. Not a bad idea, huh. Nobody ever thought about that, now did they?”
Hendricks wrote constitutional law? Sure, why not.
1:16:05: Joe O’Dea doesn’t sound interested in supporting McConnell. “I think it may be time for a fresh face,” he says.
1:16:52: Say what you will about Ron Hanks, but the man isn’t afraid to answer questions. “I would not support Mitch McConnell,” he says. “I don’t need to support Mitch McConnell from afar and hope that he’s going to help fund [my campaign]. Hanks concludes by talking about the need for term limits in Congress.”
1:18:05: Gino Campana starts with a weird tangent. “Remember when we had a president, when posed with a challenge, would keep his cards close to his chest?” Campana seems to be talking about Trump, which is odd…when Trump was in the White House, he practically announced on Twitter every time he went to the bathroom.
Campana mentions his Trump administration appointment. “I believe that’s why President Trump appointed me to his administration, because I was gonna bring business skills to the task at hand.” Remember, Campana was “appointed” by Trump to some job late in 2020 that he never actually started.
As to the question about McConnell, Campana doesn’t answer.
1:19:00: Peter Yu also doesn’t answer the question, instead agreeing with Hanks that we need term limits in Congress.
1:20:15: Eli Bremer has jokes. “You know, I think a lot of us in this room would think we need some new leadership and some new blood,” he says. “And so I would pledge to you that if I’m elected to the United States Senate, I will not vote for Chuck Schumer to be the Senate Majority Leader.”
As we noted in the Lakewood debate, Bremer seems to think he is quite the comedian, but his “jokes” usually don’t generate more than a few polite chuckles.
Bremer then begins his dodge on the actual question. “I don’t know all the intricate things about how they go in the Senate,” he says. “But what I’m gonna do, I’ll sit down and talk to those people [Senate Republicans] and I’ll find out what they know that I don’t.” That’s gonna be a long conversation.
Bremer does not answer the question.
QUESTION: If not you, who?
1:21:18: Brauchler pauses to make everyone in the room clap in appreciation for law enforcement officials. “I want to give it up for the folks in blue and all that stuff,” he says. Everyone stands and claps.
Brauchler finally gets to the next question, which is about who each candidate would support for U.S. Senate other than themselves. This is one of those softball questions that are easy to answer, but invariably someone always screws up.
1:22:48: Deborah Flora avoids answering the question in favor of talking about how Republicans need a candidate who is strong enough to not get cornered into answering easy questions.
“What we need to beat Michael Bennet is someone who can stand on principle, who has a proven track record of doing that,” says Flora, who generally never stands for anything on any question in these debates. “[Someone] who has courage, grit in their spirit, steel in their sign, but knows how to communicate and not get trapped.
“What it’s going to take is someone of discipline that does not let themselves get boxed in because that’s what they want to do.”
In other words, “discipline” = “not answering direct questions.”
This is so dumb. Just say you like Peter Yu and move on.
1:24:00: Daniel Hendricks:
“Am I next? Well, I don’t answer this because I say vote for me. Sorry. I’m the best candidate up here. In my personal opinion, because I’m a little arrogant cocky little blankety blank and I do cuss. I am not politically correct, I think we made that perfectly clear today. I am not woke and I’m not going to pretend to be. I got everyone to laugh and that was my entire objective.”
Hendricks then concludes with this gem: “It’s just like when the germans bombed Pearl Harbor. I love Animal House.” Then, after a pause, “I win.”
Hendricks is cackling with delight. The crowd laughs along with him for a moment.
1:25:00: Joe O’Dea shows Flora what she SHOULD have done. “God dangit, Daniel, I was going to say you, but I’m going to go with someone else here. You were close, though. I’m going to make one hell of a candidate and I hope I’ll earn your vote.”
O’Dea didn’t really answer the question, but he understood the point (unlike Flora), which was to demonstrate that he has a little bit of a personality.
1:25:18: “Forgive me, I don’t have an answer for that,” says Hanks. He then tells a story about driving back to Colorado from South Dakota, where he had been attending the “MyPillow Guy’s” election fraud reveal extravaganza last fall, when his future plans were revealed to him.
“As I was driving home, I asked aloud, what more can I do in service to this nation, to this cause?” says Hanks. “And the answer that came to me was: Run for US Senate. So, I look at this as, ‘speak it and make it so,’ and as Abe Lincoln made the statement with firmness in the right, as God gives me to see the right, I’m running.”
1:26:28: Gino Campana says “American dream” again, then finally makes this debate interesting by going after Hanks.
“You know, a couple of weeks ago we were asked this question, everybody up here said, ‘Yeah, we’ll support whoever the nominee is,’ except for Ron. He didn’t say that so I don’t think I can say that tonight. I might not be able to support Ron, if he isn’t willing to support us.”
This is a good strategy by Campana to start going after the guy who is the center of gravity in the GOP Senate race. It’s important to make some sort of impression on people in a debate like this, and that’s what Campana is trying to accomplish now.
“You can rebuttal, if you want,” he concludes with a gesture toward Hanks.
1:27:35: Hanks doesn’t take the bait. He says that he remembers a Sunrise Republican Women’s forum in which he did say that he would support the nominee.
“I’ll accept that as a correction,” says Campana.
1:28:06: Peter Yu is mad at Brauchler for asking this question. Eventually he answers that he will support whoever wins the Republican Primary on June 28th.
1:28:57: “It’s George Brauchler, right?” says Bremer. “Was that the right answer? Did I get it right?”
“No,” deadpans Brauchler.
Bremer goes on to say that “I want to support someone who can win” before he finally promises to back whomever becomes the eventual Republican nominee.
1:30:05: Greg Moore likes him some Deborah Flora. “I think she has had the best consistent presence since I’ve been up here – since I’ve been on these panels,” he says. “So it would be easy for me to support you.”
Moore’s answer is partially true. Flora has been the candidate who is the most consistent – in never answering questions.
QUESTION: What’s YOUR question?
1:32:00: After a minute of discussion about whether they still had time for another question, Brauchler finally asks another question. “I want to give every candidate the opportunity to ask another candidate a question and they have 60 seconds to respond.” Brauchler notes that this is the fifth time that (most) of these candidates have been together for a forum/debate in recent weeks.
1:32:45: Daniel Hendricks is first. He wants to ask Greg Moore about living in China.
“What was China really like?” he says. “I’ve never been over there. I went to the Philippines two years ago. I got a girlfriend that lives over there. I want to be an ex-pat, but I decided to leave. So what’s China like?”
We expected so much more from Hendricks.
1:33:20: “The food is so good,” answers Moore absurdly.
1:34:08: Joe O’Dea has a question for Ron Hanks: “How do you plan on attracting independent voters here in Colorado that don’t believe that the election was stolen?”
Ooh, this debate is finally getting a bit scrappy.
1:34:30: Here’s Hanks’ answer: “Joe, I appreciate the question. The truth matters and we are on the side of truth when we say this election was stolen, we’re already at the 59% mark – 41% of Democrats believe that this election, 2020 election was stolen.”
We’re gonna need a fact check here. In what universe do 41% of Democrats believe that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump?
Anyway, Hanks continues: “This is big. They’re coming our way because we are in the right. And that’s what matters. And now, I’m not the ogre that the left wing media is portraying me as. They called me a racist, a seditionist. I reject it all. I’m a pretty nice guy, occasionally kind of funny. It’ll come out in the course of the campaign. Thank you.”
In short, Hanks thinks his “Big Lie” enthusiasm won’t hurt him with independent voters because those voters are coming around to his way of thinking anyway.
1:35:40: Now Hanks gets to ask a question, and he takes a shot at Campana.
“Gino, I’ll ask you, I know, you’ve talked about your time in the Trump administration. But can you tell us a bit about your time in the Obama administration?”
1:36:08: “I had no time in the Obama administration,” says Campana.
“Then we had bad intel here,” replies Hanks.
“That happens occasionally, Ron,” says Campana.
“So, I retract,” says Hanks. “Like you retracted [earlier], I will retract.”
“I think you do have bad intel,” says Campana. “I never worked with the Obama administration. I worked with the Trump administration.”
Where did Hanks come up with this idea? Maybe from Campana himself. Here’s what it says on Campana’s campaign website:
Verbatim, from the website:
Gino has served as the Chairman of the Larimer County Republican Party and was appointed by President Donald Trump to serve with his administration. The Obama Administration also asked him to serve on projects such as ‘It’s on Us’ – a national initiative to end sexual assault and domestic violence.
Hanks let Campana off the hook here, but expect this to come up again.
Weirdly, Campana spends the next 30 seconds talking about some sort of sexual assault awareness campaign he led when he was on the Ft. Collins city council, which is EXACTLY what Hanks was talking about regarding Campana working with the Obama administration.
1:37:30: Campana uses his question to ask Peter Yu about his college football career. Apparently Campana is done trading barbs with Hanks.
1:38:10: Yu talks about never getting onto the field at Colorado State University and eventually transferring to Ft. Lewis college. Yu claims that he ran a time of 4.24 seconds in the 40-yard-dash. We hate to doubt Yu on this point, but 4.24 is actually THE SECOND-FASTEST TIME EVER RUN in the 40-yard-dash at the NFL scouting combine.
1:39:20: Yu asks Bremer about how many gold medals the U.S. will win in the Winter Olympics. Yawn.
1:39:30: Bremer responds with a dumb joke about bobsledding and how nothing goes downhill faster than Joe Biden. He thinks the U.S. will win the most medals.
1:40:12: Bremer asks Joe O’Dea how he is feeling as he recovers from back surgery. O’Dea responds that he is doing well. Bremer tries again to be funny:
“Follow up question: Are you a bionic man?”
Whoever told Eli Bremer that he was funny really did this man a disservice.
1:41:00: Greg Moore has a question for Deborah Flora about advice she has for male candidates who are trying to attract female voters. Yeah, it was kinda gross.
1:41:47: Flora starts her answer with this: “One of the things I love about the Republican party is we are not the party of identity politics.” Ugh.
Flora says she thinks Republicans can win back suburban women because she recently had lunch with a woman who was a former Democrat and recently left a job at the ACLU because she saw the light about Republicans, or something.
1:43:15: Brauchler mumbles about something for a moment, apparently forgetting that Flora didn’t get a chance to ask her own question.
“This isn’t a cop-out question,” says Flora, before proceeding to ask a cop-out question for incumbent Sen Michael Bennet (who is not here). “I want to know how he thinks he represents the people of Colorado when he doesn’t even actually live here,” she says.
Flora apparently thinks she can get somewhere with repeatedly asserting that Bennet lives in Washington D.C., but it’s not true. Bennet lives in Denver. His kids go to school in Denver.
1:45:20: Joe O’Dea is first. He says Bennet and Biden are bad and he is a smart businessman who is not bad. “I am one of you, and I will fight for you,” he concludes.
Unless you are a multimillionaire, O’Dea is not “one of you.”
1:46:20: Hanks repeats much of his opening statement and talks about how he wants to “re-secure” and “restore” a bunch of stuff.
1:47:15: Gino Campana says “American dream” six times in his closing statement. At the end of this campaign, someone is going to find him sitting on the ground in the shower ceaselessly muttering, “American dream, American dream, American dream.”
1:48:20: Peter Yu is honored to be here, yada, yada.
1:50:00: Eli Bremer gives the same closing statement he gave in the Lakewood debate, which includes his confusing story about somehow helping an Olympic athlete to speed up her citizenship paperwork.
1:51:00: Greg Moore says nothing worth repeating. He does, however, give out his website URL instead of just promoting Deborah Flora.
1:52:00: Deborah Flora repeats the standard buzz phrases, including “unconstitutional mandates” “federalizing laws” and “decriminalizing crime”.
1:53:20: Daniel Hendricks, bring us home!
“I totally love being up there,” he says. “I want to say thank you for allowing me to come up and talk to you. I want to represent you in Washington DC. I’m gonna make you a promise right now. I’m only going to run two terms. I’m 55. I’m gonna retire at 67. Deal? I don’t know what else I can do besides that…
“I’m going to show up every day and vote. That’s all we do. And I want to be on the jury for that impeachment trial. It is what you do as a senator in the United States. You’re on the jury. I am applying for the job of being on a jury and in the year 2023 folks, when we are impeaching Joseph Biden for his being a tyrant. Can we agree? He is an oligarch. He has been up there for 50 freakin years. Peter, you’re wrong. He was not 60 years – it’s been 110 freaking years they’ve been doing this. Those communists!”
1:54:40: Brauchler says he doesn’t want it to end, and we agree. He also announces that there will be no straw poll today because all of the candidates agreed beforehand that they didn’t want a straw poll.