Club 20 declines to allow Jared Polis to have surrogate in Grand Junction debate


Gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis will not be allowed to have a surrogate participate in his place at the Club 20 debate in Grand Junction.

The Western Slope club’s leadership announced its decision on Friday regarding the upcoming Sept. 8 debate. The debate is a tradition, and the club said no gubernatorial candidate in more than three decades has declined participation.

Polis, a congressman and the Democratic candidate for governor, is running against Republican and state Treasurer Walker Stapleton for governor. Polis had requested to send Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, one of his primary opponents, to debate Stapleton in his place.

Polis’ move attracted criticism from leadership of the club, which represents 22 western Colorado counties.

“Congressman Polis’ decision not to honor the citizens of Western Colorado by participating in our debates is simply outrageous and we continue to ask for his reconsideration,” said Cindy Dozier, Club 20 board chair, in a statement.

Polis’ campaign has previously defended his commitment to western and rural Colorado issues, saying he has a scheduling conflict and plans to participate in a different debate in Grand Junction. Polis also opened his first campaign office in Grand Junction.

“We’re disappointed in Club 20’s partisan reaction to a scheduling conflict, and nobody benefits from their decision to deny their club members the opportunity to hear from the sitting Lieutenant Governor, Donna Lynne,” Polis campaign spokeswoman Mara Sheldon said in a statement. “Jared looks forward to debating Walker Stapleton at a free and open televised debate in Grand Junction on October 6th.”

Stapleton will still be attending the Club 20 event, his campaign said.

“It’s incredibly arrogant that Congressman Polis decided not to attend the Club 20 debate himself and assumed sending a surrogate would suffice,” Stapleton spokesman Jerrod Dobkin said in a statement. “Rural Colorado expects more than a stand-in Governor.”

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