How is it humanly possible that we have 1) Trump refusing to say if he’ll leave office peacefully, 2) Trump on the ballot, and 3) candidates in some of Colorado’s most important state races not saying whether they support or oppose Trump?
That’s an unacceptable situation, right?
You’d think so, but when I call some GOP candidates in races that would hand major power in Colorado to the Trump-loving Republican Party, they hang up or don’t answer. I’m talking about important swing state Senate candidates like Lynn Gerber, Kevin Priola, and Suzanne Staiert; aspiring CU regent Richard Murray; and multiple state House candidates.
You can accuse me and the Colorado Times Recorder of having a progressive slant, and I’ll blow you a socially-distant kiss in return–as long as you help me find out what these candidates think of Trump.
It doesn’t matter that I’m a progressive writer.
Yet, Suzanne Staiert used that as a dodge last week when I called to ask for her stance on Trump.
“What do you say when people ask you whether you support Trump,” I asked Staiert.
“I’ve never been asked,” she replied.
“Do you?” I asked.
“I’m not going to talk to you. I don’t consider you an actual newspaper.”
OK, great. When I ask her about what she says to people about Trump, she has an I’ve-never-been-asked answer.
But when I ask if she supports the democracy-killing president, that’s when I’m not an actual newspaper.
I ran into the same problem in 2016, when I was trying to extract Republicans’ stances on Trump.
Trump had not revealed himself to be the man he is today, but we’d seen enough to know that candidates needed to tell voters where they stood on him.
I was waiting for state Senate candidate Christine Jensen, who was desperate to remain mum on Trump so she wouldn’t scare away anti-Trump voters, to emerge from a Republican gathering.
I bumped into Colorado Politics columnist Lynn Bartels, who’s a friend.
We were chatting as Jensen emerged, and Lynn warned her that I was there, so she wouldn’t have to answer my question about Trump.
Jensen fled from me and my nonviolent question, and I told Lynn I couldn’t believe she’d undermined journalism-in-action like that.
We talked, and she agreed that it was a legitimate question. And I’ll always respect her for apologizing to me for scaring off Jensen.
So I called Lynn last week to see what she thinks of Colorado Republicans refusing to talk about Trump as democracy burns 20 days before the election.
She told me she still thinks it’s a fair question to ask.
“But I think people have every right not to answer it, too,” she said.
At this moment, these candidates don’t have that right.
Or, at least, let’s not let them get away with exercising it. I mean, it’s wrong. They should tell us.
A wider journalistic intervention than the one we’ve waged at the Colorado Times Recorder is obviously in order.
But if that doesn’t happen, a citizen intervention might do the trick.
Get in touch with the candidates I’ve named here as refusing to talk Trump.
Will they be voting for Trump? Do they support him?
Or, you might ask the question 9News put to Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and his Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper last night: Do you think Trump is a moral and ethical man?
Hick said no. Gardner said yes.
Just because the Republican candidates I’m chasing aren’t going to serve in Washington, where Republicans are also starting to hide from Trump, doesn’t mean they should be off the hook. They could wield serious power.
If you get an answer from them, please let me know and I’ll update my handy-dandy list so the world will know.
And if they exercise their right to hang up on you–or they tell you Trump is somehow not relevant to their race–let me know about that, too.