GOP governor candidates debate the issues in Grand Junction

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) -- Seven Republican hopefuls came to Grand Junction Thursday night to talk to voters about the issues facing Colorado's future.

With Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper's term coming to an end, the candidates met at a forum put on by the Mesa County Republicans to debate why they should be running the state come 2019.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman's entry caused early front-runner George Bracuhler to drop out. She said she is interested in working with the people of Colorado to give them a better life.

Former congressman Tom Tancredo has run twice before for governor, including a second place finish as a third party candidate in 2010. He says the infrastructure in Colorado is way behind the population growth and as a result, there is a mess.

Former investment banker Doug Robinson lived in Grand Junction as a teen. He said the state needs a plan that includes everyone, not just the Front Range.

State treasurer Walker Stapleton said he's helped try to bridge the gap on our end of the divide, adding the next governor needs to have a vision for all of Colorado.

Victor Mitchell is a former front range state representative who has started or turned around numerous companies. He said small businesses are getting crushed and plans to roll back rules and regulations affecting small business if elected.

Former Trump Colorado Campaign co-chair Steve Barlock wants to make Colorado great again, focusing on infrastructure and protecting our water rights.

Former mayor and Senate candidate Greg Lopez hopes to be the first Hispanic-American Republican elected Governor of Colorado. He is focusing on small businesses, education and transportation.

After the forum, a straw poll was held and Stapleton was declared the winner of the forum.

Colorado's primary election ballots will be sent out in early June, with the primary election set for June 26.

The Mesa County Democrats say they are planning a forum for their party's candidates for governor on Feb. 24. They have six candidates running for governor: businessman Noel Ginsburg, former State Senator Mike Johnston, former Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne, Second District Rep. Jared Polis, and former congressional aide Erik Underwood.

The Colorado Democrats released a statement on Thursday which reads:

"People here in Grand Junction want a governor who is focused on creating jobs and moving the Western Slope forward. Unfortunately, the Republicans running for Governor would take our state backward. From supporting Trump's tax plan that harms the middle class, to trying to take health care away from hardworking Coloradans, to callous treatment of immigrants, none of these GOP candidates are what Colorado stands for. While Republicans are racing to the right in their divisive primary, Democrats are focused on solutions like creating jobs on the Western Slope, improving rural broadband, upgrading infrastructure, lowering health care costs, enhancing education and protecting our public lands."

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