*NOTE: Unless something is in quotations, everything here is paraphrased in order to post quickly.
Brophy was the clear winner here, and it wasn't close. He was much more at ease and friendly, and he spoke to specifics much better than any other candidate. Based on this debate, he's the only one of the four candidates who you could conceivably envision being Governor. Brophy also wisely worked out with House beforehand to back each other up on the question of, "If you don't win the Primary, who would you root for?"
This was an absolute disaster for Mike Kopp, who was already in trouble coming into the debate. When Tancredo and Gessler pulled out of the debates, it created a tiered dynamic in which Kopp fell into the bottom half of contenders. He could have used a strong performance here to show that he belongs among the top tier, but that slot should be filled now by Brophy.
Steve House is a middle-aged white male who has spent his career as a "businessman." He is every bit as drab and boring as that previous sentence.
Jason Clark might be insane. Seriously.
7:32: And that wraps it up.
7:25: Closing statements…
Clark: I went to West Point, so I know how to lead…blah, blah. Talking about Elon Musk wanting to build a plant to build batteries, says he would invite him to Colorado and take him skiing in Aspen.
House: I'm a business leader…snore.
Kopp: This is about the citizen's process, not about the candidates. Our state has been let down. John Hickenlooper is a nice man, but he has let us down. My philosophy is empowering people. Giving power back to people. "We're supposed to be free."
1. Build a booming economy around low taxes
2. Cut Government
3. Fight against federal government
4. Fight against Obamacare
5. Start a Unicorn farm
Brophy: I am the only candidate who has been to all 64 states. I've been fighting for energy companies my entire life (that's going in a commercial if Brophy ends up as the nominee). We're going to have a world-class education system, great economy….
Basically, if you elect any of these four men, everything will be good and nothing will be bad.
7:22: If you can't win, who would you like to see win?
Brophy: Steve House, because of business experience.
Clark: That's a rhetorical question, because I'm going to win. I don't play for second place. Clark is like a walking late-night infomercial.
Plunkett prods him to answer the question. Clark finally says, "Nobody."
House: Brophy. Sounds like House and Brophy have a nice alliance.
Room is quiet, waiting to see if he'll say more. He doesn't…for a moment. Was talking about Scott Gessler. Was that a joke???
7:21: Question about Clark and sketchy Facebook posts
Clark: Says he has apologized. Humans make mistakes. Doesn't mean not qualified for Governor.
Jason Clark is scary — in a "please don't talk to me without other people around" way.
7:20: Question about business for House.
7:17: Question for Kopp about business.
Kopp: I have a two-year plan. "Blueprint for a Leaner Government." "In America you should be free to succeed, not "…overburdened by government regulation.
Another weird, rambling answer for Kopp. He's having trouble with using inside-baseball terms but then not explaining specifics — it seems kind of like name dropping.
7:16: Question about denying public funding for abortion and for other exams.
Brophy: Something about Planned Parenthood not accounting for its money.
7:11: Amendment 64 question and about regulations as Governor.
Brophy: Says he would regulate marijuana like we regulate alcohol because that's what Colorado voters said they wanted. Great answer.
Clark: Says passage of 64 was a mistake. I think all drugs are wrong. One of the impacts is that smoke travels…seems very upset that he can smell weed in certain places.
House: Didn't vote for 64 because "marijuana and heroin are similar." You sure about that one?
Kopp: Can't tell if regulations will work yet. I voted against 64. If there are no negative impacts, then everybody wins. If there are, then…[we don't win?]. Says businesses may not want to move to Colorado because of 64.
What a terrible, rambling, nonsense answer from Kopp.
7:06: Question about immigration and role Governor takes.
Kopp: I'm the only candidate up here who has actually done something on immigration reform. We can create opportunity for everyone but in the context of keeping communities safe.
Brophy: I am absolutely disgusted with Washington D.C. They can't get a thing done. It's time for a governor, then, to have the support of the people he represents (huh?). Use that bully pulpit to shame those people in Washington D.C. into doing something. Build a fence, and put in place an immigration policy that works for everyone.
Clark: We don't enforce our laws in this country — it is a federal offense to hire an illegal immigrant. These other candidates have been in office. What have they done? Why don't we just enforce our laws. "As Governor I'll look at the issue and do the best we can."
House: Must have federal government do something. I can't build a fence around Colorado.
7:02: Question about soul-searching after 2012 election for GOP.
House: We have to understand what people really want. They want kids to be safe. They want to make money…and then a bunch of other words.
Kopp: Kind of trying to say that Tea Party is no good because you need a coalition builder. Says Hank Brown and Bill Armstrong "will support him."
Brophy: I bring the experience to actually govern from day one. Nominate the bicycle-riding, Prius-driving farmer from rural Colorado. He keeps saying this last line, half in-jest.
Clark: In the end it's about candidates. The Republican Party has a great platform. Go and read it. Do the math.
6:58: Question about education funding and refunds
Clark: We might want to think about who we are electing…and choose someone who can do credit-swaps and derivatives…something, something.
House: Talking about Medicaid over-commitment and Medicaid expansion. Apparently House is running for President of the United States.
Kopp: I have 4 kids who have gone through public schools. 32 years in public school experience — not sure what he means here.
We live in the real world, where dollars and cents matter. I am in favor of tax rebates…in order to collect more taxes?
Brophy: "I hope we hit the Referendum C cap." The real solution is to reform our entitlement program. Brophy clearly comes across as the most knowledgeable.
6:53: Question about public-private road partnership on HWY 36. Should we raise gas tax or something else?
Brophy: I'm against raising taxes for anything. Says Democrats cut funding for transportation construction years ago. Huh?
Clark: I wouldn't raise taxes for any reason. "If you look on my website, I tell you how." "Energy, education, and entrepreneurs." Wants to build dams. Says we should use hydro-electric to fund things in Colorado because it is our water and we can do what we want.
Clearly has not heard of that 'water law' thing.
House: Talking about some transportation and power map. Says we can do what North Dakota did. Which was good, apparently.
Kopp: I served on the Transportation Committee. Three stars for you!
Says he supports use of private tolling unless it tolls existing highways. He would drive down costs of government 10% in his first year???
6:49: Why are you most qualified candidate for Governor?
Kopp: Talking about how he won tough local races and then was chosen caucus leader.
Brophy: You know the tallest guy will win, so obviously I'm going to win. Joke about his height goes over…not well.
Clark: Talks about his flyer that says God gave Colorado an A+ and now we aren't doing as well, or something. Says he has best finance record of everyone. "I also have, not what, but how." Uh, okay.
House: My background on a farm. That's really important. Talking about how being Governor is being CEO of a business.
6:44: Question about fundraising and viability.
House: I'm putting my own money into race. People nationally are watching race.
Kopp: Starts rattling off list of reasons why he's not raising money. Says Tancredo has been in politics 35 years, etc.
Brophy: Everybody is having a hard time raising money because the field is so large. Campaign finance limits are low, so outside money will play main role. Says he can appeal to unafilliated voters and will be able to raise money.
Clark: The line of the night thus far: "I'm single and independently wealthy, so fundraising isn't a problem of mine."
6:41: Should Tancredo and Gessler avoid debates?
Clark: I respect their decisions to run their own campaigns, but I think it's wrong.
House: Governor is like a job interview. They should be hear.
Kopp: They are wrong. Our obligation is to come before the voters.
Also, it really screws me that now I look like a second tier candidate. [okay, we made that up]
Brophy: We need to find out in March whether our candidates in the GOP can answer the tough questions.
6:39: "What is one thing that Gov. Hickenlooper has done well thus far?
Clark gives a long, rambling answer. Something about how he has done 1 out of 10 right.
6:38: Do you support Personhood?
Brophy smiles in disapproval of the question. He and Kopp says 'YES.' Clark and House say 'NO.'
6:36: Yes or No.
Should Nathan Dunlap be executed? — All say 'YES'
Would you repeal Civil Unions? – All say 'NO'
6:35: Plunkett makes introductions. Starting with rapid fire yes or no questions.
6:33: Debate is being streamed on the front page of DenverPost.com.
6:31: Seated from left to right: Greg Brophy, Jason Clark, Chuck Plunkett (Denver Post politics editor), Lynn Bartels & Curtis Lee (Post reporters), Steve House, and Mike Kopp.
6:25: Denver Post auditorium is slowly filling up. There is no buzz in the air. At all. A sign near the door says the room holds 231 people. It's maybe half-full.
No Tom Tancredo. No Scott Gessler. But Jason Clark will be there!
Colorado Pols will be live-blogging the Republican Gubernatorial Debate tonight. Check back in this space before the scheduled 6:30 p.m. start time. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves.