We sat down with the four gubernatorial candidates vying for the Republican ticket and asked them questions you wanted to know. Below are how they answered the questions.
Whoever wins the Republican ticket in the June primary will go on to face Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper, who is running for a second term.
Question #1 from 11 News viewer, Erik:
Pick just one decision that Governor Hickenlooper made in his first term. State why his decision was wrong and what you would have done differently?
“Our Governor campaigned, ah, saying he would cut red tape. He’d cut red tape so that businesses around Colorado could succeed and thrive and hire new employees. The only problem is, (he) hasn’t done that. In fact, in one year, in 2012 alone, his administration adopted 14,000 new pages of rules and regulations. It’s a stack of paper about five feet tall. So his decision was actually many, many non-decisions. He should have lead on this. As Governor, my administration will be geared around driving down the cost of regulations, being a regulated business here in the state by 25 percent. The way that you do that is you go through all of the rules and regs that are in the books. All of them. You do it industry by. And yet your focus is to drive down the cost by 25 percent in each industry. So that everybody is regulated fairly, but you’re driving down the cost of a regulated business. The reason you want to do that is pretty simple. If government gets off the backs of job creators here in the state, more people are going to find work when they get out of college or when they are in their second career or what have you. We need more jobs in this state. That’s a good way to get more jobs in our state."
"Yea, signing the renewable energy mandate. Uh, that impacted rural Colorado. I think rural Colorado was unanimous in saying ‘we don’t want this. It’s going to drive up our energy prices at a time when we can’t afford it because, especially in rural Colorado, the economy was still trying to get up off the mat to get moving again. And here comes the governor, I guess to placate constituents of his, ah, and an agenda of his, ah, to continually push renewable energy whether it’s good for the economy and people want it or they don’t. I think it was a serious mistake in sighing it."
"He supported Amendment 66, and he did so with gusto. It was one of the few things he actually got out in front of, it took him a while, but he actually finally got out in front and wanted a billion dollar tax increase for education even though there was not even a single iota of reform in that thing. and of course the people of the state, quite rightly turned it down. It was just another billion dollars that year, It would have been a billion dollars that year but billions after that, so it was a terrible thing to do, it was a terrible idea to begin with and luckily the people of the state saw through it. Surprisingly, no not surprisingly Governor Hickenlooper did not see through it."
"I think his decision to sign the gun control bills. And I think they were wrong for a couple of reasons. One is that it had no practical impact on crime. It didn’t reduce crime at all. Makes it harder for people to defend themselves. It does infringe on civil liberties. It drove good jobs out of the state of Colorado. I view that very much as a narrow, ideological agenda, that had very little to do with practical impacts. I would have vetoed those bills."
Question #2 from 11 News viewer, Sarah:
We should all be asking their stance on Common Core Education and what they plan to do to help either 1) opt-out of it or 2) help small school districts come up with the funding necessary to both purchase the technology the new tests require and the staff to make such changes available without cutting funding from other areas including the elimination of teaching positions.
"I’m against common core. And the reason I’m against it, is that think they are very mediocre standards. People who created common core claimed that they’re a very good international standards, but they’re just not. I think what we need to do in Colorado is ignore the common core standards and come up with our own, better standards and we’ve got plenty of models that we can look at. I also think that some of the testing is excessive. I strongly believe in testing to measure ourselves, but when you’re testing and testing and testing, for testing’s sake and it’s causing you to, causing schools to have to spend money, and loose time instructing students, then it becomes a problem. So I would get rid of common core in Colorado, and replace it with something better."
"We must get us out of common core, the standards themselves are relatively innocuous and that's how everybody buys into this stuff. We were essentially, the state board of education, was enticed into accepting this with money from the federal government, promises of money and the standards that they have adopted or in the process of especially, when you read them you say well that's not so bad, but the standards are irrelevant, what happens in common core and unfortunately with every federal government education program, it's not the standards themselves, it's what happens after that because then you establish curriculum and the curriculum is designed to fit the tests that are then created that's the real problem. When you look at the tests then you realize why this is such a very very bad idea. An example, a couple of questions that were in the common core English language arts section, one was, and kids were just supposed to change the tense or just correct the tense. The question was: 'All government orders have to be obeyed,' what? Another one was something to the effect of' the good of society is more important than the value of the individual, the good for the individual'. There were test questions, they aren't phrased as questions. They were phrased in a way where the kids had to change the tense or correct the tense right? But the statements were left there as accurate. You're not supposed to say true or false, you're supposed to say they should have used past tense or whatever. That's the problem, you then create the curriculum to fit the tests and the standards become irrelevant. it's a bad idea its a horrible idea we have to get Colorado out of it."
"Opt out of it. Opt out of it. George Will, who I respect a lot, said it very succinctly, whether they say this is about curriculum or not, this is the federal government seizing even more control of education. Nationally, I believe what we’ve got to do with education is turn what has become the model up-side-down. We’ve had way too much crammed on from the federal government onto the states, and the states onto the local school districts. We’ve gotta trust the local districts, especially trust parents, to be making the good decisions on how to best educate their children. We don’t need the federal government involved in one more enormously huge segment of our society, especially out here in Colorado where we can do just fine on our own. Tell the federal government ‘go away,’ ah and a governor can make that happen. I would like to be that governor to sign and opt out."
"Well, my position is that we should repeal common core. Actually, part of it is, um, a set in statute. So you’re gonna have to have some statutory changes, which I would push as governor. Um, if there are parts of common core that people find laudable and useful, um you can find a way to keep those. Um, but right now, the turmoil, that this is causing our education system and around the state, um, I think is ground enough to go back do that very thing, to repeal it. That’s the direction that I would take. I think we need to have strong standards, but they need to be standards that won’t make parents blush, that parents can get onboard with, and that local communities can get on board with, and they need to have a very strong local control component to them. You know, standards that are determined by somebody, by elites, way outside of our state are not the right direction for our state."
Question #3 from 11 News viewer Troy:
Will you correct the Nathan Dunlap reprieve? Another viewer asked, would you follow other states such as Texas in speeding up the death penalty? What is your view on keeping prisoners incarcerated who are sentenced to the death penalty?
"I think every one of us, I'm sure every Republican is going to answer this the same way. Yes indeed I would correct the decision, the non-decision that was made by Governor Hickenlooper. He didn't really make a decision and that was really one of the worst parts of it. He didn't say we were going to pardon this guy. I'm going to reprieve, no no, what he said was we're going to kick the can, down the road until the next governor. Well if I'm the next governor, I will accept that responsibility and I will withdraw that particular order of Hickenlooper's and we will put him back on the path of being executed, that he was sentenced to and after 20 years of going through every single part of the court system through appeals, everyone agreed, he needed to absolutely be executed. Governor Hickenlooper thought, well maybe I shouldn't do this, maybe it's not right. Is it really the right thing to do with this guy, well you know what governor, that's why you're elected, to make tough decisions and either say, I'm pardoning him end of story or we're going to let it proceed, but the worst thing to do especially to the families of the people who indeed were murdered, the surviving members, have to deal with this now, again and again. And you remember the father of one of those individuals that was murdered said and I will never forget this because I announced the next day that I was going to run for governor, and I did so really as a result of what this guy said. it affected me idly. We were planning on announcing at some point but i wan't thinking of doing it that early. What the guy said was 'There's been a knife in my back for the last 20 years and what this governor did was twist it with this decision'. Well that's enough from me."
"He took an oath to enforce the laws of the state of Colorado. The law, ah, says that Nathan Dunlap has exhausted all of his appeals, he’d been sentenced to die. A judge had set his date, and for whatever reason, ah, the governor decided that he not only wouldn’t commute the sentence, as he had the power to do, and he wouldn’t allow it to be carried out. He simply said, ‘I’ll let the next guy deal with it.’ I think that demonstrated an element of weakness. I think a lot of people saw that, an inability or unwillingness to make a tough decision. And on my watch justice will be served and Nathan Dunlap’s execution will go forward. The death penalty law has been used very, very carefully in Colorado. We only have three on death row right now, I believe in Colorado. Others have been accused, James Holmes, may be one of those who is being tried based on death penalty accusations and incitement. I don’t believe Colorado has abused that law at all. In fact I think we’ve been very judicious, and that’s the way I’d like to see it continue. I think it ought to be rare, but the citizens of Colorado have stood up time, and time again, and said they want that ultimate penalty to be part of our law. When I take the oath of office to be the next governor, and promise to enforce the laws of the state of Colorado, that will be one of them. Nathan Dunlap will see justice served, because the reality is, that by doing what he did on the Dunlap decision, John Hickenlooper denied the justice that the victims' families have been waiting for for 20 years in the case of Nathan Dunlap. Twenty years, and now they are still waiting. That’s simply wrong."
"So I started my career as a federal prosecutor at the department of justice. And, I’m very much a law and order guy. So I would allow that to go forward, the execution. And we never celebrate that, but we do have the death penalty in Colorado for the worst crimes, and that was a very heinous crime, one of the worst mass murders we got. A jury looked at that, judges reviewed it that should go forward. Um, with respect to overall the death penalty and the time, I do think it’s too long. It’s shouldn’t take decades. That said, you have to look at each case individually, on its own merits."
“He created a third route on, the decision around the murder and Nathan Dunlap. He could have commuted the sentence, or he could have set an execution date. Instead the governor, put him, essentially, into a holding tank. The governor campaigned as though he were in favor of capital punishment, and when the decision came to his desk to make, he didn’t make it. He punted. He should have made that decision. Nathan Dunlap was found guilty by a jury of his peers. As governor I would set the execution date; our governor has not been willing to do that. Yea, we do need to bring about the reforms in our corrections system to make sure we can implement justice much sooner than we do. Nobody wants to see games being played, ah, by clever attorneys. That’s just the bottom line. If you’re sent to death row, and you’ve gone through your appeal process and it’s a fair appeal process, then we need to follow through on the decision that was made at that time. And so, for that reason, guys like Nathan Dunlap, the murderer Nathan Dunlap, we should, um, move quickly toward insuring justice is served, especially for the families of the victims."
Question #4 from 11 News viewer, Jimmy:
On the pot issue, would they recommend to other states and Governors to legalize it with all the revenue Colorado is taking in and how would they utilize the funds to be spent?
"That would be a false choice. I think to go after it for the revenue is a mistake. I was not for amendment 64, but it’s now part of our constitution and I’ll have the obligation to enforce that law now that it is a law of the state of Colorado. I think the challenge in front of us is obviously to regulate it as tightly as the law allows, keep it out of the hands of our children, and educate the general population as to the real dangers. We’ve got a lot of people who are finding out after the fact, ‘oh, I just used a little bit if it; I used it recreationally, now legally, but they fail a drug test and they fail to either get or keep the job that they’d like to have. That’s a consequence I think a lot of people didn’t understand was out there. And we’ve seen all kinds of evidence about the damages done to our children. I wouldn’t encourage other states to do it. In face, I would be leaning the cause in the other direction. I think it’s a mistake. I think the consequences are serious. And I think we as the state of Colorado ought to be rethinking that decision."
"I would not recommend to Governor Scott Walker or any governor around the country that they follow Colorado’s example of legalizing marijuana. I think, I voted against the amendment to the constitution. Now it’s in the constitution, so we have to deal with this. We have some real safety problems, especially as it relates to our kids, adults too around the issue of legalizing this. I think it’s a bad drug. I think it’s going to be bad for our society. I would absolutely not encourage other governors to follow suit. No amount of money, I think, is worth the kind of problems that this is only creating for our society. And, frankly, the problems that we’re just now beginning to understand. It’s very difficult to undo because it’s in the state constitution. The House and the Senate could refer a measure to the people. Citizens in this state could form an initiative. We could do it that way, but it needs to go to a vote of the people. Well, the money needs to be spent and strict law enforcement to keep our roads safe, We’re gonna have DUIs. Of course, we’re gonna have an increase in DUIs. We need to keep our roads safe. We need to keep our kids safe in these schools. People who are guilty of peddling this drug to our children need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Those are two critical areas where we need to be spending our money."
"At this point I can’t recommend legalizing it for other states, we have to see how it works here in Colorado. I do have a lot of worries about public health and safety. I think what we need to do though, and what this Governor has done wrong, we need to send more of that money to law enforcement, because we still have black market, we have cartels, we have real problems with drug use and illegal activity around that. So we need to send more of that money to law enforcement as well."
"I supported 64, Amendment 64. The problem we're having is the problem of regulating it properly, a problem of enforcing the laws that are on the books as a result of the passage of Amendment 64. It isn't an issue as to whether or not know if we're going to change it, we're probably not. It passed with a wider margin than, got more votes than Obama got in Colorado. So i doubt it's going to be reversed. Our challenge is to figure out how to regulate it so as to meet the demands of the people of the state of Colorado that want it legalized and on the other hand reflect the law itself. For instance, it’s against the law to smoke pot in public, right? It’s against the law. It’s part of the amendment, I remember distinctly. Yet, on certain days of the year, they open up parts of the city grounds for hundreds of people to come in and do that. It’s a clear violation. The children that are supposedly obtaining the substance now, that maybe were not before, that’s what we’re led to believe, all these kids are getting it. Well, how are they getting it? And what you read in the paper, it’s their parents, or in some cases their grandparents, right? Well, that’s child endangerment. Show me where anybody’s been actually prosecuted for giving their children marijuana. If we gave a kid, if somebody gives a kid a loaded fire arm and sends them off to school with it. Don’t you think that they’d be liable for endangering the lives of not just their own kids, but others? I think so and I think they should be prosecuted. When you give your child, if anybody out there is stupid enough to give their kids marijuana, they should pay a penalty for that, there should be actual prosecution. So, there are things the state can do to make sure the law is upheld, the law is put in place and is adhered to. That’s the problem, we’re not seeing an efficient way of regulating, and it’s a learning process, I understand, but there are some things that are pretty clear, it’s against the law to smoke dope in public, end of story."
Question #5 from James:
What they would do towards getting our gun rights back? Reversing the high cap mag ban would be nice. I'm not a criminal so I support the background checks though.
"Well, most people do, by the way, support the background checks, the reality is that none of these things, what we have learned ever since Columbine, which I was in Congress, I’d only been in Congress a couple of months, when that occurred, and that was my district, I only lived about a mile from Columbine High School. Most of my neighbors and many, many of our friends had children there. Some killed there, others wounded, it was a horrendous experience. What we have learned since then, after unfortunately many other experiences of a similar nature, what we have learned is that none of these things have anything to do with gun safety, nothing, or gun violence as the left likes to put it. They’re irrelevant, it doesn’t matter. In fact, this is really important for people to understand. Governor Hickenlooper was asked by an individual up in Grand Junction not too long, if he thought any of these bills he signed would actually reduce, quote 'gun violence'. He said, 'Not really.” So they asked him the next question, of course, 'Why did you sign the bills?' And he said, and I quote, 'I sign a lot of stupid bills.' The next day, or maybe it was two days after, he was on the stage with Barack Obama touting these bills, here in Denver. I and just wonder if he turned to Barack Obama and said, 'You know Mr. President, these were pretty stupid bills.' I doubt it, but you know what, they were stupid bills."
"I think what we need to do is protect Second Amendment rights and I would not have signed the bills that that governor did."
"So, I would have voted against the bad gun bills that were sent to the governor last year. He should have vetoed those bills last year. As a matter of fact, adding more gun laws to the books does not create more safety. Just ask places like Chicago or Washington DC. You know, our gun rights are granted to us by our creator, but they’re guaranteed under our constitution. When lawmakers and governors want to sort of nibble away at those in small ways and in big ways, we’ve got a problem. So, absolutely I would go after the heart of those gun bills last year. I would be sure we reinstate our Second Amendment just as it was before John Hickenlooper took office."
"I think he’s where a lot of Colorado citizens are. I think he’s very close to where are lot of Colorado citizens are. I'd like to sign the repeal of the mistaken bills that Governor Hickenlooper signed. I think the vast majority of Colorado, and you demonstrated right here in Colorado Springs with the results of the recall election, I think the vast majority of people think that was an overreach, that it infringed on their liberty, and I’ll remind you that our sheriffs, the almost unanimous group of our sheriffs, 55 of the 64 of them, showed up at the capitol and said this won’t make our society any safer, and we can’t enforce these laws, don’t pass them, don’t sign them, and yet the Democrat legislature passed them, the governor signed them, and when asked why he signed them in Grand Junction, he apparently responded ‘Oh, I sign a lot of stupid bills.’ Really, which other ones? I’m anxious to ask him that question. I’d love to sign a repeal of those gun bills. Either you trust people or you don’t. And law abiding citizens first and foremost ought to be trusted and they shouldn’t be infringing on their constitutional rights."
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