Gubernatorial Candidates Debate
by Ari Armstrong
[The following article originally appeared in the November/December 2001 edition of Colorado Liberty.]
It was a historic event. For the first time in Colorado, two Libertarian candidates went head to head in a debate in a race to capture the party's nomination.
Bob Glass and James Vance debated November 4 at the Boulder Public Library in front of a crowd of around 60. Each is seeking the LP's nomination for governor. Next spring, party members will decide which candidate will go on to challenge incumbent Bill Owens and the Democrat.
State Chair John Berntson said, "The fact that the Libertarian Party of Colorado is holding pre-nomination debates more than a year out from the elections is a sign that our party is gaining momentum and attracting more attention from credible candidates. I hope LP members will support our candidates at a higher level than ever before."
Gregg Stone, a radio D.J. known as "Uncle Nasty" on KBPI radio 106.7 FM, moderated the event. Stone earned the Libertarian Party's "Friend of Liberty" award earlier this year.
Peter Sandberg wrote a summary of the event for the November 5 edition of Boulder's Daily Camera.
Sandberg's article began, "Candidates for the state's gubernatorial Libertarian nomination debated Sunday whether it is in their party's best interest to compromise at all on issues to advance their cause if elected, or if they should hold to a strict party line."
Ron Bain, candidate for city council, said the debate was "one of the best turnouts I've seen at any political event in Boulder lately."
David Bryant, who sits on the state board, added, "It was an enjoyable afternoon. Both Vance and Glass spoke forcefully, and at times eloquently, about their desire to change Colorado government."
The candidates largely agreed on areas of civil rights, drug policy reform, and expanded national police powers.
As one audience member pointed out, the main difference between the candidates is that Vance wants to start closer to the center and move incrementally toward libertarian policies, whereas Glass wants to defend Libertarian principles and then settle for mixed legislation if necessary.
For example, Vance said he wants to "correct cost expenditures" and "increase the quality of education" in public schools, leaving for the long term the goal to "phase out public education." Glass will "state at the outset" that Libertarians want to "return education to the private sector."
Glass said, "A libertarian who is not consistent is not a libertarian. We can't compromise our principles or our beliefs. The Libertarian Party calls itself the 'party of principle,' and that should never be abandoned. We should never retreat from that. The facts of history and the reality of human nature and the free market bear out all of our beliefs and all of our arguments, and I'm prepared to argue and defend that."
Vance said, "My Libertarianism is in philosophy, not in party platform. I'm taking Libertarianism from a philsophical point of realism in action. You can sell Libertarianism to the common public in terms they understand, using reverse incrementalism. Anything closer to the Libertarian goal is one step closer than we are today."