Highlights from the Colorado Congressional District 4 debate: Lauren Boebert and other candidates spar over issues


Watch the full Congressional District 4 debate hosted by CBS Colorado

01:20:05

Six candidates vying for the Republican nomination in Colorado's 4th Congressional District, a seat vacated earlier this year by former Assemblyman Ken Buck, took part in a debate in Denver on Wednesday. Among them was Rep. Lauren Boebert, who announced in December she would switch districts.

The candidates mostly agreed on former President Donald Trump, immigration, climate change and federal spending, but broke away on foreign policy, with Boebert the only candidate to oppose providing U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

“Ukraine is not a NATO ally and we have already sent them almost $200 billion of your tax money. There have been no audits, we don't know where this money is going, there is no accountability at all and we keep sending more money. there,” she said.

All six Republican candidates who will appear on the ballot discussed a number of issues in the debate, which was hosted by CBS News Colorado and moderated by CBS News Colorado Political Specialist Shaun Boyd on Wednesday.

In addition to Boebert, the other candidates included Deborah Flora, state Rep. Richard Holtorf, state Rep. Michael Lynch, former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Peter Yu.

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Not every candidate was asked every question, and some questions required a simple yes or no answer or show of hands.

“I deliver for Colorado,” Boebert asserted during her opening statement, highlighting her experiences in Congress. She later boasted about her support of Trump.

Holtorf, a rancher and state representative whose district includes Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld and Yuma counties, described himself as a “no-nonsense conservative” and a fighter, citing his military and combat experience.

Lynch, a state representative whose district includes Larimer and Weld Counties, said he would put his frustration with Congress into action if elected, delving into the issues of immigration and fentanyl.

Flora, a parent, filmmaker and radio host, attacked Boebert in her opening statement, saying, “We have seen Lauren Boebert come to represent us, abandon her neighbors in CD3, miss important voices while chasing cameras and center of DC. was drama instead of delivering real solutions for the people.”

She said she would focus on issues such as immigration and the economy.

Sonnenberg, a state senator whose district includes Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld and Yuma counties, emphasized his deep roots in Colorado and experience in the state Legislature. He boasted about his leadership skills and experience in countering “the liberal agenda.”

Yu has worked as an executive at Wyndham Worldwide and HSBC Bank and has unsuccessfully run for Congress in several recent elections. He said he spent several hours a day knocking on voters' doors and described a meeting he had with a politically divided couple who told him they had both switched parties because they “didn't trust Congress.”

Yu claimed he would work to restore that trust if elected.

Foreign policy is divided

When asked which of the candidates would support deploying troops to defend Taiwan if China were to invade the small island, every candidate except Boebert raised their hands. Holtorf's hand shot up first as he exclaimed, “Here, let's go. It is our ally, we must stand behind our allies 100%.'

When asked who supports aid to Ukraine, every candidate except Boebert raised their hands again, with Flora clarifying, “If it's responsible.”

However, when the question turned to aid for Israel, support among the candidates was unanimous.

“Israel is our most important ally and we have made commitments to them,” Boebert said.

Boebert added that she supports Israel in supplying ammunition for the Iron domeits air defense system, but will not support bills that tie aid to Israel humanitarian aid to Gazawhich she described as “$9 billion for Hamas.”


Candidates in the CD4 GOP primary debate in Colorado respond to foreign policy questions

05:40

Flora criticized Boebert's two votes against aid to Israel.

“There was money in it for humanitarian aid, but everyone I spoke to, from the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) captains to AIPAC, has said, 'we cannot allow the good to be the opponent of the perfect or the perfect of the good,'” says Flora. said.

Under debate rules, Boebert received a 30-second rebuttal in which she said she did not support budget deficit spending to send aid to Israel, or an aid package that included humanitarian aid, which she recharacterized as sending money to Hamas.

“I know how terrible that war is and I'm not going to fund both sides,” Boebert shot back. “I stand with Israel and I also stand with America.”

When asked, Holtorf said he would be in favor of conditioning any aid the US gives to allies with the requirement that it be repaid over time. He then called for unity among the candidates and said they should focus their criticism on Democrats.

“The catfights need to stop and we need to start talking about policy issues,” he said.

Broad agreement on the issues

There appeared to be little disagreement among the candidates on several issues, including immigration, the causes of climate change and confidence that Trump would be re-elected in 2024.

While most candidates said federal spending needs to be cut, Flora said highways and other roads are an area the federal government should support financially. She also said undocumented immigrants form an “overwhelming” infrastructure. including rural hospitals.

“Buses are being shut down, overwhelming the hospitals that are really there to serve the good people in the rural communities,” she said. “It's time we put our American citizens, those living in rural communities, first.”

Holtorf said he supports a Trump proposal to designate drug cartels as terrorist organizations and use the U.S. military to support domestic law enforcement at the southern border.

Lynch said when he was in the U.S. military, military personnel helped with border security.

“That's an effective policy that I think we should continue to have in place,” Lynch said.

Boebert called for mass deportations and recited one of her campaign slogans: “Build the wall, deport them all.”

She further claimed that undocumented immigrants were overwhelming systems and services in the US

Asked whether he would support a merit-based visa policy to remove a cap on work visas, Sonnenberg said he would have to explore the issue more, but said the U.S. should make it easier for immigrants to enter the job market .

“As we develop that workforce, we need to look at migrant workers who come here legally,” he said.

Yu also said he is in favor of streamlining the process of legally entering and working in the US. He said he spoke with a Northern Colorado business owner who complained about spending thousands of dollars on visa applications for potential employees.

“No one is willing to work,” Yu said. “As a result, he now has to pass those costs on to the people of the district and to his customers.”


Key moments from the debate with candidates from Colorado Congressional District 4

03:59

All candidates minimized the meaning of climate change and how human activity contributes to this.

“Climate change happens four times a year,” Boebert said, referring to the seasons.

Holtorf indicated that while he believes human activity contributes to climate change, “there is a larger contribution through environmental factors that we cannot control.”

Lynch, Flora, Sonnenberg and Yu also claimed in their responses that humans play little to no role in climate change.

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CBS


CD4 covers much of eastern Colorado. The district also includes Douglas County in the southern part of the Denver metro area, and the city of Loveland in Northern Colorado.

So far in the race, Boebert has raised $3.4 million, nearly ten times as much as Flora, who has raised just over $356,000, the second-highest fundraiser among Republican candidates, according to the latest Federal Elections data Commission.

Boebert currently represents Colorado's Third Congressional District, which covers most of western and some of southern Colorado, but late last year she announced that she changing neighborhoods.

“(Boebert) had to move from a pretty good Republican district to a predominantly Republican district to think she could win re-election,” said CBS Colorado Republican political analyst Dick Wadhams. said earlier this month.

The Colorado primary will take place on June 25. Moods in the primaries will be mailed to voters next week.

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