In their first debate of the campaign for congressional District 7, incumbent Ed Perlmutter, and his challenger (and former neighbor), Joe Coors, kept the tone mostly polite ... until it came time for their closing statements.
Coors said voters will see a difference between himself — an accomplished CEO who would get things done before ending the day with a cold Coors beer — and Perlmutter, whom he labeled a career politician.
“I don't think he could manage a lemonade stand without a federal grant and some subsidies,” Coors said.
Perlmutter fired back, saying that during his career as an attorney, he managed to expand his law firm substantially, even hiring one of Coors' daughters.
“And Joe, going to get a Coors beer would be great, because MillerCoors supports me in this election because I've worked with them for a long time,” Perlmutter said, referring to a Political Action Committee associated with the Coors Brewery parent company.
The debate took place Thursday, Sept. 29, Thursday at the Arvada Center and was hosted by the Jefferson County Business Lobby. It focused on economic rather than social issues.
Coors spoke first, giving a brief introduction that highlighted his CEO experience. The former head of CoorsTek struck a friendly tone through the debate, slipping in an occasional joke.
Perlmutter, who has held the 7th Congressional District office since 2007, emphasized his record, noting it has been “like being a bulldog to get the VA Hospital under construction after years and years of delay so we can honor a promise we made to our veterans.”
He said several times that The Denver Post had named him “the most centrist, most bipartisan member of the Colorado delegation.”
On the actual issues, one of the clearest policy splits between the two candidates was over the Bush-era tax cuts.
Perlmutter said he stood with President Barack Obama's plan to end those tax cuts for people making $250,000 or more a year, though he said he would be willing to listen if his colleagues in Congress wanted to shift that number higher.
The Republican candidate instead argued for an “indefinite” continuation of those tax cuts.
“Let's bring some certainty to the marketplace and help unleash the small businesses we have in this country,” Coors said.
Coors said the proposal to end the tax cuts for wealthier Americans would do more harm than good.
“It's projected to cost 700,000 jobs in this country, according to a study by Ernst and Young,” Coors said.
On the subject of reducing the debt, the two candidates again diverged. Coors said the latest government accountability reports include hundreds of suggestions on how to reduce government-program waste. He said “getting government out of the way” would help the economy, which would also help reduce debt.
“Every 1 percent increase in gross domestic product will generate $2.3 trillion worth of tax revenues going forward,” Coors said.
Perlmutter said Paul Ryan's proposed budget, which Coors has supported, is projected to actually raise the federal deficit while slashing federal services.
“I've already voted on a budget proposal that reduces the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years,” Perlmutter said.
The two candidates will see a lot more of each other, with a half dozen joint appearances, forums and debates planned.