Colorado's U.S. Senate rivals, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and former Gov. John Hickenlooper, will meet for their final debate at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Fort Collins in what could be the Republican incumbent's last chance to change the trajectory of a race led for months by his Democratic challenger.
The hour-long, statewide televised debate will be held on the Colorado State University campus and is sponsored by 9News, Colorado Politics, the Fort Collins Coloradoan newspaper, Rocky Mountain PBS and several smaller TV stations around the state.
The candidates have faced off three times this month, including in a televised debate in Denver on Friday, the same day ballots started going in the mail to Colorado voters. A Colorado Politics/9News poll released a day earlier found Hickenlooper with a 9-point lead over Gardner, with 8% of likely voters undecided.
Both candidates have waged relentless attacks in their debates. The fast-talking, 46-year-old Gardner has sought to portray Hickenlooper as corrupt, citing two violations of a state gift ban and other topics, while the more conversational, 68-year-old former brewpub owner criticizes the Trump administration on nearly every front and reminds voters that Gardner is among the president's most loyal allies.
Expect plenty of discussion about the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic and the slumping economy that has resulted. The candidates will likely also debate their positions on health care legislation, the country's energy future in a changing climate and questions surrounding criminal justice and racial equity.
Also certain to be a topic: Senate consideration that began with hearings Monday on President Donald Trump's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated less than a month ago when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died.
Gardner is siding with Republican leaders, who have scheduled a swift confirmation for the conservative nominee before the Nov. 3 election, while Hickenlooper has joined Democrats in sounding the alarm over what they say is the likelihood her vote could spell the end of the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade.
The debate, moderated by 9News anchor Kyle Clark and political reporter Marshall Zelinger, will air live on 9NEWS from 6 to 7 p.m. and stream live here at Colorado Politics, as well as on the other sponsoring media outlets' websites.
Local TV stations KRDO in Colorado Springs, KJCT and KKCO in Grand Junction, and KOBF in the Four Corners also plan to air the debate live. Radio stations in Durango, Grand Junction, Aspen, La Junta and Greeley will also carry the debate.