(’76 Editor) When Scott McInnis, Josh Penry, and Dan Maes faced an audience of almost 300 at Centennial Institute’s forum for gubernatorial candidates on Nov. 3, the outpouring of written questions from the floor added up to a comprehensive examination of the rivals’ readiness to lead Colorado if elected in 2010. Since our panel was only able to ask a few of the questions that night, we’ve compiled all of them here for your reference. The order is random, and there has been no editing to avoid repetition or overlap on some topics—since that serves to illustrate concentrated areas of concern among those who attended. Panelists’ questions are listed separately at the end.
1. Colorado public schools are underachieving, despite huge increases in funding. What do you believe are the primary purposes of public education? Social? Intellectual? In preparation for work as entrepreneurs, employees, and employers? How can Colorado do this better?
2. Congressman McInnis, you say now that you are, and have been, pro-life. Yet in 1992 while running for Congress, you said that you were pro-choice and would remain pro-choice. Which are you really, and how can we know that?
3. Do you know the case of Rifqua Bari of Ohio? If the courts return her to her Muslim family, does that put her under Sharia Law? And at risk of beating, deportment, and still possible future death? Would you make a similar case, of a Muslim youth becoming a Christian, or other faith, a ward of the state to protect them? What is your position on school vouchers?
4. What will you do to defend TABOR?
5. What is your position on the I-70 light rail?
6. What is your view of the proposed personhood amendment declaring a fetus a human being from conception.
7. Colorado voted for marriage to be defined as one man and one woman, but I believe we’re paying state employee benefits for homosexual couples, what is your opinion on that?
8. Would you be willing to work (or sign, if the opportunity is given) to repeal the “bathroom” bill – men can use women’s’ bathrooms and vice versa?
9. What is your position on illegal immigration?
10. How do you plan to fix P.E.R.A.?
11. You speak of values, hard work, and integrity. Have you been to the projects (low-income housing) to see the people who are struggling daily? In layman’s terms, how would you explain your agenda?
12. How do you plan to balance environmental awareness with the exploitation of natural resources in Colorado in order to be a good steward of resources as well as provide jobs?
13. How would you rate your knowledge and comprehension of the state budgets in the last two years?
14. How much comprehension of the budget does the next governor need?
15. Do you prepare your own tax return?
16. What is the starting income number on Colorado personal return? How does it relate to a U.S. 1040?
17. Alternative energy is not yet reliable (wind and solar versus nuclear). If Colorado is supposed to be leading the nation in new ideas while providing jobs, how does that work if alternative energy can’t pay for itself?
18. How would you try to correct the damage that has been done by the Ritter administration to the natural gas industry?
19. What is your number one suggestion for how to raise Colorado revenues?
20. How do you believe the legalization of marijuana would benefit and/or harm Colorado?
21. Please summarize what caused the fiscal problems with P.E.R.A., and what the governor and legislature should do to solve the problem?
22. As governor, what would your standpoint on the nation of Israel and America’s support of her be?
23. Is state government currently in a financial crisis or is this simply an expected ratcheting down of government because of TABOR?
24. As governor how would you create new jobs? Please be specific.
25. Transportation statewide is in dire straights. How do you plan on gaining the funding necessary to fix the problem?
26. What is your position on the expansion of Fort Carson?
27. In this era of global economy, what would you do to prepare Colorado businesses to compete in the borderless business between countries? –
28. As governor, what will you do to further America’s fight against Islamic terrorism?
29. How many jobs as Gov. Ritter brought to Colorado with his green energy policy? How many jobs has he lost in the in the oil and gas industry?
30. It will take a solidified effort to win our state and country back. Can each of you get behind one candidate if that is what it takes?
31. This is an open question to any one of you who thinks he can answer it. Can you recite the preamble to the Colorado State Constitution?
32. As governor, what would you do to solve the illegal immigration problem in Colorado?
33. As a voter, I have lost faith in our government. Fiscal responsibility has been abandoned and our founding heritage and future have been compromised. If elected governor, what would you do to restore my faith in government?
34. How would you fix TABOR?
35. Gov. Owens cancelled funding for Planned Parenthood. Gov. Ritter restored that funding. Will you again cut off funds for this pro-abortion organization?
36. Would you support state condemnation for transportation or water projects?
37. Why did Republicans in the past Congress go the wrong direction when we had the majority?
38. What is your message to young people – tomorrow’s leaders – that will compel them to embrace conservative values?
39. The oil companies have worked behind the scenes to prevent us from becoming more energy independent. How are you going to make Colorado more independent and keep the oil companies from derailing this effort?
40. In this tough economy, all parts of state government are having to cut. However, Amendment 23 allows public schools to take more and more. Is there a way to rectify that situation and more evenly balance our funding?
41. Please describe your feelings on the 2nd Amendment.
42. Do you support the three grassroots taxpayer rights initiatives supported by Doug Bruce to control the size of government and repeal fees?
43. Some Republicans are saying it’s inconsistent for the front runner in this race, Scott McInnis, to plead party unity as a reason for avoiding head to head debates, when he himself damaged party unity by criticizing Bob Beauprez’s campaign in 2006 and the Bob Schaffer campaign in 2008. Please ask each candidate to comment.
44. Tonight, we’re finding out in Virginia, and New Jersey, in New York and Maine, what it means to be a Republican and a conservative, including being a social conservative: on issues of life and marriage and justices, and on issues that affect the family. Why is it that none of you seem wiling to talk about social conservative issues in your campaigns? Does that leg of the Reagan conservative triad not matter any more?
Prepared Questions by Student Panelist Chad Ryder:
A. One of the core values of this university is compassion for the poor. Another is limited government and free markets. Many Democrats would say those values are incompatible, and they would charge Republicans with having little compassion for the poor. How would you respond to that charge, and what would you do about it as governor?
B. In the recent past, with such scandals as Gov. Spitzer in New York and Gov. Sanford in South Carolina, the American people have witnessed the effects that poor self-management and skewed personal-values can have on a politician’s career. What are three core-values you uphold in your personal life that will assure you success in your political career?
C. During the 2006 election, the Republican Party lost the race for governor, partially because the tensions during the Republican primaries damaged the party unity in the general election. What practical measures are you taking to make sure the Republican Party does not repeat the same mistakes of the 2006 election?
Prepared Questions by Student Panelist Samantha Scoggins:
A. After talking with college students, I have found that many people my age are concerned that there will not be jobs for them after graduation.
According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms and employ 64 percent of all private sector employees. In the current economic climate, small businesses seem to be suffering more than large firms. How do you plan to bolster small businesses and create small business growth in Colorado?
B. Many college age students find themselves unable to reasonably pay for college. Many take out large amounts of student loans that they spend years trying to repay. Due to the current economic downturn, most students find it harder to pay for college than in the past. How do you intend to make higher education affordable for students in light of the current economy?
Prepared Questions by Moderator John Andrews:
A. Before coming to the issues of 2010, the Centennial Institute invites each of you to fill out a job application. Tell us specifically what preparation and qualifications you have that the other two Republicans and the incumbent Democrat do not have, making you the best choice to be our next governor. Each of you is at a disadvantage for not having won the Nobel Peace Prize. But you also each have some advantage over the others. Please spell out what that is.
B. With tax revenues falling short in the current recession, Gov. Bill Ritter has relied heavily on onetime federal stimulus money to meet a $271 million deficit in this year’s budget. Do you agree with that approach?
C. The terrorist plot involving Najibullah Zazi of Aurora is one of seven such cases involving radical Muslims in all parts of the country during the past few weeks. Gov. Ritter has called for greater vigilance against the threat of homegrown jihad. What would you do as governor to protect Colorado against Islamic extremism?