Meet the candidates event at the Pinnacle Event Center / 2-21-10

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As an energized crowd convened at the Pinnacle Event Center in Denver, Colorado, they all had one goal in common: to reverse the current course of Washington D.C & Colorado. This was a Q & A session with candidates for U.S. Senate, House Districts 2 and 7, and Colorado Governor. the list of attendees can be found here.

This event was moderated by Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute and Krista Kafer, who is an education analyst with the same organization. After each sequence in the symposium, the attendees sent text messages phone number to decide who won each debate.

The first group of candidates were competing for Colorado’s 7th Congressional District. Candidate Search 2010 put out an invitation for the Democratic candidates for the offices which are being competed for. The Democrats declined the invitation. All the candidates expressed dismay at how Washington spends money on things America can’t afford and the fact that politicians don’t read the bills they vote on. While cynics may have the impression that some or all the candidates accentuate a persona of idealistic conservatism, the majority of the candidates tjoml that they have the potential to create the change in the Governors mansion and Congress that the audience believes in.

The first question had to do with each candidates position on climate change. While each candidate expressed the idea that it was a farce, the funniest response came from Michael Sheely. he told the story about something he learned from his uncle in Mississippi. His uncle reportedly told him, “Son when you go out in the barn in the morning and you see something brown sticking on the ground, and you take a stick and stir it, you know what you got.” The crowd erupted in applause and laughter. Like the other candidates, he was not impressed with the alleged science about climate change.

When the candidates were asked if they support HR 450 Senate Bill 1319, they all said yes. This is the Enumerated Powers Act. It requires Congress to specify the source of authority under the U.S. Constitution for enactment of laws and other purposes. The voters thought this particular subject was especially because Congressman Clyburn (D-S.C.) once said, “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says that the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do” in response to a question by Andrew Napolitano of Fox News when the Congressman was asked about the health care policies Congress is contemplating.

All the candidates supported the general premise of tax reduction to help the economy. On spending, they expressed the sentiment, “If you don’t have it, you don’t spend it” which generated a warm reaction from the crowd. The candidates were not fans of the IRS. They said they want the IRS out of the lives of the American taxpayer

On illegal immigration, the candidates believe that the borders should be secure borders and consistent enforcement of illegal immigration laws. The candidates believe illegal immigration is a national security issue. Ryan Frazier said he thinks one way the border can be controlled is through technology and surveillance. They are not big fans of the McCain amnesty policy.

With respect to the candidates for the 2nd Congressional District the questions covered in their segment covered the subjects of health care, government bailouts of private enterprises, and our membership in the U.N.

The candidates said purchasing insurance across state lines should be allowed and that health insurance should not be forced on people. They also think that health care should not be government funded or run because it may turn into an unfunded liability.

With regards to government bailouts, most of the candidates think the idea stinks. Curtis Harris said he thinks General Motors resembles a government structure in the sense that “They don’t listen, they don’t innovate, and they don’t pay their bills.” Stephen Bailey suggested it was a bad idea and suggested a constitutional amendment separating the state from the economy (similar to the separation of church and state concept, except this is economic and not religious). The odd exception was Bill Hammons. When he suggested that the idea of the bailout was a good idea because we allegedly averted another great depression, the crowed booed. All candidates subscribe to the idea of getting out of the U.N.

The gubernatorial candidates addressed small business and tax issues. All of them seem to like the idea of lower taxes and less regulation on big and small businesses. With respect to balanced budget issues, Dan Maes said he believes in extending tax reductions to grow the economy. Rich Hand says he would look at reforming the state pension plans and cut taxes to grow the economy. As for illegal immigration, they all believe in the abolition of sanctuary city policies and have ICE deport the illegals.

The interesting thing about the Senate candidates was that as Cynthia Coffman (chief deputy atty gen) was introduced to speak originally, she was booed. She was representing Jane Norton. Jane was the Lieutenant Governor for Colorado. She was reportedly recruited by John McCain to run for the U.S. Senate and did not show up for this debate. Maybe by virtue of her affiliation with McCain and probably other reasons, she is perceived as a RINO (Republican In Name Only), and a wannabe Washington insider. The candidates all agreed with the idea of keeping Guantanamo Bay open, lower taxes and businesses. Ken Buck said that our energy policy needs to emphasize reliance on nuclear power like that “bastion of conservatism, France” which solicited laughter from the crowd.

All candidates think that energy, business and health care are over regulated. While they talk a good game with respect to their beliefs, such as tax reduction, keeping  Guantanamo Bay open, balancing the budget, lowering taxes etc… as the campaign progresses, the public will eventually be in a position to choose which person is the most convincing. I think if you were to ask this crowd, Jane’s representative did not come across as real convincing. This was demonstrated when Ken Buck spoke in his closing statement. He addressed the concept of accountability. He said, “Cynthia would you please take something back to Jane for us… You must be present to win. If I want your vote, I have to be here and ask for it”  which was received with thunderous applause from the crowd. After he said this, Cynthia basically sat there with an unpleasant look on her face.

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2-18-10 protest at the Fillmore Auditorium.

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In the short while in which I have been doing political photography, I have never seen such a diverse group of protesters at one single event. In these photographs you see protesters from Tea Party/9-12 organizations, protesters advocating for clean energy, and marijuana legalization advocates. There are about 34 photos. The protesters arrived in the wake of a political fundraiser in which Obama came out to Denver and gave a stump speech in support of Senator Michael Bennet’s campaign.