Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Tom Tancredo will face John Hickenlooper, Dan Maes at most debates -- but not Club 20's in GJ

As a third-party candidate, Tom Tancredo wasn't invited to be part of the Club 20 gubernatorial debate in Grand Junction this weekend.

Not unless he wanted to sit in the audience, that is. But nobody puts Tommy in a corner!

For decades, event organizers and media outlets have wrestled with the issue of how to handle third-party candidates: Do you give them a seat at the debate table? Do you give them the same amount of coverage as the major candidates? Any coverage at all?

Now, with Tancredo running for governor on the American Constitution Party ticket, those questions get even tougher. For the first Channel 12/CBS4 debate, Tancredo was invited to participate -- and, by many accounts, including his own campaign staff's, he outperformed Dan Maes and John Hickenlooper. But the other third-party candidates were snubbed, and they're not happy about it, as Colorado Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Jaimes Brown revealed in an interview with Westword's Jonathan Easley.

Club 20 rules call for ignoring candidates from parties that don't reach a certain threshold of registered voters (none of Colorado's minor parties do), and the Western group decided to stick to its guns this time, too. Which means Club 20 is consistent -- but it also means that tomorrow's gubernatorial debate, featuring just Maes and Hickenlooper, will be a lot duller than it might have been.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun