US Senate: Bennet vies for second term against GOP Air Force vet

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    Darryl Glenn, the pugnacious El Paso County Commissioner and lawyer from Colorado Springs, is taking on incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet for the state’s lone open U.S. Senate seat this November in a race that has waxed and waned between highly contested and all but buttoned-up over the course of the past 18 months. Glenn, an Air Force veteran and hard-line constitutional conservative, has repeatedly taken shots at Bennet’s record in the Senate, while the Democratic politician has continued to highlight his own desire to enhance bipartisanship in the fractured Washington chamber. Parker-based Libertarian Lily Tang Williams is also running for the state’s contested U.S. Senate seat. Arn Menconi is running on the Green Party ticket.

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    By QUINCY SNOWDON, Staff writer

    Colorado Senate: Bennet vies for second term against GOP Air Force vet

    The race for Colorado’s open seat in the U.S. Senate pits Darryl Glenn, an El Paso County commissioner, against incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

    Darryl Glenn
    Darryl Glenn

    Glenn emerged from a bizarre Republican primary process, one that produced a ruling from the State Supreme Court, several rulings from Denver District Court judges and the arrest of a petition gatherer. Glenn received nearly 38 percent of the primary vote to demolish four other candidates who were also vying for the nomination, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

    Bennet has served in the U.S. Senate since being appointed in 2009 to replace former Senator-turned-U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

    Michael Bennet
    Michael Bennet

    Many pundits suggested Glenn’s incensed speech at the state’s Republican convention this spring acted as the launchpad for his eventual primary victory. It was at that El Paso County event where the county commissioner declared himself to be an “unapologetic Christian, constitutional conservative, pro-life, Second-Amendment-loving veteran.”

    A graduate of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Glenn, who currently runs a private law practice in Colorado Springs, served in the U.S. Air Force for more than two decades, according to his website.

    The two candidates differ on most political and social issues with respective views that generally, though not always, fall along party lines.

    On education, Glenn has repeatedly referenced his desire to dismantle the Department of Education in an effort to provide more autonomy and more money for local education in Colorado.

    Every year, Colorado sends millions of dollars to Washington, D.C., to the Department of Education,” Glenn writes on his website. “I believe those dollars should be returned to Colorado so parents, teachers and superintendents have the freedom to make choices and direct the education of their kids.”

    While Bennet disagrees with Glenn’s snipes at the Department of Education, he agrees that schools need more control at the local level.

    “Abolishing (the Department of Education) would threaten financial aid that more than 320,000 Coloradans depend on – that’s simply a non-starter,” Bennet wrote in response to an Aurora Sentinel candidate questionnaire. “States and schools need flexibility when it comes to education, and that’s why I helped overhaul No Child Left Behind to replace it with a bipartisan law that increases local control of schools while still maintaining accountability.”

    Prior to serving in the Senate, Bennet, who also holds a law degree from Yale University, served as the superintendent at Denver Public Schools.

    Glenn did not return a questionnaire issued by The Sentinel and did not return multiple requests for comment on his campaign.

    Glenn has repeatedly asserted his position as an unabashed supporter of the Second Amendment and has bashed his opponent’s views on firearms.

    “The real solution is not to take away guns from law abiding citizens, so that criminals are the only ones left with guns,” the Republican wrote on his website. “I will continue to defend the right of all Coloradans to own, purchase and enjoy firearms without the intrusion or monitoring of the government.”

    Bennet has largely supported gun control measures as a senator, voting in favor of the failed Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, which would have banned high-capacity magazines that can store more than 10 bullets. He also supported the sit-in conducted in support of enhanced control measures in the U.S. House earlier this summer, according to several media reports.

    Bennet has repeatedly worked to make bipartisanship a campaign cornerstone, highlighting bills he has passed with GOP members of the Republican-controlled Senate. In a 12-question survey submitted by The Aurora Sentinel Bennet referenced bipartisan bills or efforts he led in half of his responses.

    More than half of the nearly 200 bills Bennet co-sponsored in the chamber last year were introduced by non-Democrats, according to government open data and analysis website GovTrack.us. That mark was the fourth-highest of all senators, according to the website.

    However, only 9 percent of the 23 bills Bennet introduced in 2015 had co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, giving him the second-lowest “bipartisanship score” among Senate Democrats for bills he authored, according to the website.

    On the contrary, Glenn has doubled down on refusing to work with non-Republicans if elected.

    Throughout the course of his campaign, the El Paso County politico has said he’s “tired” of hearing about efforts to reach across the aisle to pass pieces of legislation. He re-affirmed that stance at the first U.S. Senate debate last month, which was sponsored by the policy group Club 20 and held in Grand Junction.

    The candidates did find some recent solidarity in their mutual denouncement of Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, following the recent dissemination of an audio recording in which Trump is heard making wildly lewd comments about women.

    Glenn joined a cadre of notable Colorado Republicans calling for Trump to end his presidential bid.

    “Donald Trump is simply disqualified from being Commander in Chief — America cannot have a man who speaks this way about women be the face of our country to the free world,” Glenn said in an Oct. 8 statement. “I am therefore calling on Donald Trump to do the honorable, selfless thing — voluntarily step aside and let Mike Pence be our party’s nominee so that we can defeat Hillary Clinton, keep control of the Senate, and put our nation back on a path of safety and security.”

    However, Bennet criticized Glenn for his prior support of the Republican presidential candidate.

    “Voters will remember that up until this day, Glenn has been Trump’s highest-profile supporter in Colorado, and unfortunately for him, the time to take a principled stand has already passed,” Bennet’s campaign said in an Oct. 8 statement.

    Real Clear Politics, a polling aggregator that averages several national reports, had Bennet claiming an 11.3-point advantage over Glenn. That average used polls released between Sept. 13 and Oct. 4.

    The influence of money in the race has remained relatively mum in recent months as the last official campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission were released in June. At that time, Bennet had out-fundraised his opponent by a ratio of nearly 35:1. The Democrat has about $6 million cash on hand, while Glenn has about $119,000, according to their June 30 FEC reports. The next reports are due out later this month.

    Parker-based Libertarian Lily Tang Williams is also running for the state’s contested U.S. Senate seat. Arn Menconi is running on the Green Party ticket.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title= “Michael Bennet’s biography“]

    Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet has served in the U.S. Senate since being appointed in 2009 to replace former Senator-turned-U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Prior to serving in the Senate, Bennet, who also holds a law degree from Yale University, served as the Superintendent at Denver Public Schools and the Chief of Staff to then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title= “Darryl Glenn’s biography“]

    Darryl Glenn is an El Paso County Commissioner who currently runs a private law practice in Colorado Springs. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and served in the Air Force for more than two decades, according to his website. Glenn received nearly 38 percent of the primary vote to demolish four other candidates who were also vying for the Republican nomination in the Senate race earlier this spring, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title= “Michael Bennet’s issue questions and responses“]

    Stipulating that Obamacare will not be repealed, what specifically would you want to change to improve it? I’ve worked to make the law better by voting to delay taxes on many employer-sponsored plans and passed a bipartisan bill to make it less burdensome on small businesses. But our current system still needs improvement, especially in terms of reducing out-of-pocket costs — that’s why I have a bill to help states fight big premium increases. I’ll keep working on bipartisan solutions to expand access to quality care across Colorado.

    Stipulating that Obamacare will be repealed, what specifically would you do instead? I don’t believe that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed. We can’t go back to a system where millions were penalized for pre-existing conditions and insurance companies could charge women more than men. However, there are systemic issues in our health care system that we can address outside the limits of the law. We need to bring more transparency across the health care sector — drugs, hospitals, and insurance companies. We also need to do a better job of recruiting and retaining providers in rural areas. And we should focus on inefficiencies in our system. I have a bill with Rob Portman, Republican from Ohio, to help high-cost seniors on Medicare coordinate their care. Fifteen percent of Medicare recipients account for $300 billion in spending. We could cut billions off of that number without affecting benefits.

    Would you agree with an effort to deport the approximately 11 million people who live here illegally? No. We need comprehensive immigration reform that allows millions living in the shadows to fully contribute to our society and our economy. I led efforts in the Senate to craft a bipartisan bill that included a pathway to citizenship and measures to strengthen border security. That’s the kind of collaborative solution Colorado needs.   

    Would you vote for an immigration reform plan that includes some type of a “path to citizenship”? Yes. As a member of the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight, I helped write a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included a path to citizenship. It passed the Senate with 68 votes but fell victim to Washington dysfunction in the House of Representatives.

    Candidates have weighed in on preserving or dismantling the Department of Education. If you want to preserve it, how would you work to ensure state and local control of schools. If you want to dismantle it, what would you do to protect rights enforced by the Department of Education? The Department of Education helps thousands of Colorado students afford college through Pell grants and loans. Abolishing it would threaten financial aid that more than 320,000 Coloradans depend on — that’s simply a non-starter. But as former superintendent of Denver Public Schools, I’ve often been on the receiving end of well-intentioned but unworkable regulations from Washington. States and schools need flexibility when it comes to education, and that’s why I helped overhaul No Child Left Behind to replace it with a bipartisan law that increases local control of schools while still maintaining accountability.

    Recreational marijuana is a large and growing part of the Colorado economy, yet it’s frequently hamstrung by federal criminal drug laws. How can Colorado and other similar states persuade skeptical lawmakers to change laws to accommodate some states’ end of prohibition? Colorado and similarly situated states need to continue to show how recreational marijuana can be regulated responsibly. In Congress, I have worked in a bipartisan way to make sure Colorado’s legal marijuana businesses are treated correctly at the federal level. Many legal marijuana businesses can’t access our banking system and are left to operate on a cash-only system. That’s a threat to public safety and complicates tax collection. I’ve worked to clarify regulations for financial institutions that wish to serve these businesses, and have introduced bipartisan legislation to solve this problem. I have also co-sponsored legislation aimed at allowing marijuana related businesses to deduct ordinary business expenses.

    Would you support or fight against the current effort to turn control of public federal lands in Colorado to the state? Our public lands are part of what makes Colorado such a special place to live, and I oppose anything that would jeopardize them. Colorado’s 24 million acres of federally managed land includes gems like Browns Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Great Sand Dunes National Park that help drive our outdoor recreation economy. Transferring that land to the state would shift a tremendous maintenance burden onto Colorado and ultimately risks public land being sold off into private hands – and closed to future generations.

    Would you support an increase in the federal gas tax to increase cash for road and bridge construction? If not, what should Congress do to create more money for roads? Investing in infrastructure will mean more middle-class jobs for Colorado and I strongly support efforts to maintain and bolster our roads and bridges. I want to a find a long-term solution to infrastructure funding. I co-chaired a bipartisan Senate Finance Committee working group to address this very problem. We found that infrastructure was in dire need of investment and a reliable source of funding, and proposed several solutions, including deemed repatriation of the nearly $2 trillion of past foreign earnings of U.S. companies. I’ve also introduced a bipartisan bill to create a national infrastructure bank to finance road, bridge and water systems repairs.

    Is global warming caused by human activity? What specifically should Congress do as a reaction to global warming? It’s ridiculous that so many politicians still question climate science. Yes, humans have contributed to climate change and Colorado’s economy is already feeling the result — whether it’s a shorter ski season, the constant threat of wildfire, or droughts that imperil our $40 billion agriculture industry. At the same time, we’ve been a national leader in energy efficiency, alternative fuels and generating electricity from cleaner and more diverse sources. We can fight climate change while protecting jobs and moving toward energy independence, starting with support for renewable energy technology and encouraging the energy innovation on which Colorado has led the way.

    Should the United States close Guantanamo Bay prison? If so, what should be done with remaining prisoners? If not, how should their judicial status be resolved? I support closing the prison, but I don’t support bringing any Guantanamo prisoners to Colorado. These are military prisoners who belong in military prisons.

    Would you recommend the next administration enforce or repeal the Iran nuclear proliferation pact Obama recently made with Iran? Iran should never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. Before the agreement, Iran was two to three months from building a bomb. Since the deal, Iran has shipped 98 percent of its uranium out of the country, disconnected tens of thousands of centrifuges, and filled the core of its plutonium reactor with concrete. We needed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, prevent another war in the Middle East and secure our ally Israel. We need to continue strong oversight throughout implementation. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to go even further by better tracking Iran’s funds and imposing new sanctions if they cheat on the deal.

    Who, specifically, would you recommend to the U.S. Supreme Court? The Senate needs to do its job and vote on President Obama’s nominee Judge Merrick Garland. Obstructing a vote and leaving the Supreme Court divided is Washington dysfunction at its worst.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Darryl Glenn’s issue questions and responses“]

    Did not respond.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”LIGHTER SIDE: Michael Bennet’s personality questions and responses“]

    Did not respond.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”LIGHTER SIDE: Darryl Glenn’s personality questions and responses“]

    Did not respond.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Michael Bennet Campaign Finance“]

    Click here for Michael Bennet Campaign Finances

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Darryl Glenn Campaign Finance“]

    Click here for Darryl Glenn Campaign Finances

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Michael Bennet Endorsements“]

    Not available

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Darryl Glenn Endorsements“]

    Not available

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