A month before Election Day, the stakes for the first debate in the race for Colorado governor are significant.
The 6 p.m. Friday debate — sponsored by CBS4, Colorado Public Television, KOA NewsRadio and The Colorado Sun — will give Polis and Stapleton the first opportunity to offer their own vision for the state and make the best case against their opponent.
WATCH: Visit coloradosun.com at 6 p.m. Friday to watch a live-stream of the debate.
And the pressure is on Republican Walker Stapleton in particular. He’s down in the polls. Democratic rival Jared Polis is a better policy wonk. And the conventional wisdom is against him.
Nic Garcia in The Denver Post says Stapleton has a good bit of work to do: “Stapleton still hasn’t begun to define himself to a broader electorate. His first ad wasn’t about him, it was about Polis. So, he’s going to have to use the debate to sell himself as more than just the not-Jared gubernatorial candidate. At the same time, he’s going to have to pick at Polis without coming off as a bully.”
The left-leaning opinion writer Mike Litwin writes in the Colorado Independent: “You’ll definitely hear Stapleton trying to persuade viewers that Polis is too liberal for Colorado. To this point, that strategy doesn’t seem to be working, and maybe that’s because on many of the big issues — starting with health care and immigration — the numbers seem to support Polis. And clearly Stapleton needs some issue that works for him beyond an opponent’s choice of residence.”
Esteban Hernandez in Denverite expects fireworks: “We’ve already seen them call each out other during the primaries, at conferences and on Twitter. Will we see something similar onstage?”
The Friday show is the first of six televised debates in the governor’s race, in addition to a handful of other forums. It comes just days before Oct. 15, when county clerks can start mailing ballots.
The most recent major poll in the race shows Polis with a comfortable advantage over Stapleton — 47 percent to 40 percent — putting the onus on the Republican to close the gap.
Dick Wadhams, the former Republican Party chairman, said it’s not too late for Stapleton.
Wadhams recalls how former Sen. Wayne Allard and Gov. Bill Owens were down ahead of Election Day and won.
“Seven points is substantial, but not insurmountable,” he said at a political forum earlier this week at the University of Denver.
More from The Colorado Sun
- Grilling BLM’s boss / How the Catholic Church tries to prevent abuse / Who is staying at the governor’s mansion / Plus the latest from around Colorado
- Wannabe Catholic priests can expect interrogations about porn, psych evaluations and abuse prevention training
- Opinion: When considering Prop CC, leave property taxes out of the discussion
- Scattering BLM will be good for policy, boss William Pendley says. Not with him at the helm, advocacy groups argue.
- Hickenlooper: I will bring an unrelenting focus on combating climate change and growing our green economy