COLORADO, USA —
A leading Republican candidate in Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District claimed there’s a plot to keep her off the debate stage. In reality, she failed to accept the invitation to appear.
Lori Saine captured the top line on the Republican primary ballot at the GOP state assembly but she will not be included in Saturday’s ‘Republican Rumble’ debate featuring her four primary opponents.
Saine baselessly claimed on a conservative podcast that there was a plot to exclude her.
Debate organizers say it’s much simpler than that: Saine ignored requests to RSVP for the debate against primary opponents State Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer, Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, and former Army Special Forces Green Beret Tyler Allcorn.
Saine made the claim she was being excluded when she appeared on the May 18 episode of the “Chuck and Julie Show” podcast, a program that aired on KNUS-AM radio until 2019 when host Chuck Bonniwell said a “nice school shooting” would break up coverage for Pres. Donald Trump’s impeachment.
“It’s certainly not a good look for this event to say that a candidate can’t come in,” Saine said. “If someone is available to come to an event, they should be allowed in.”
The debate organizer, The Republican Women of Weld, said Saine failed to respond to a March 8 invitation and a March 27 reminder that the deadline to RSVP was April 5.
“I assumed the deadline was still open if I was getting requests to attend,” Saine told 9NEWS.
“This is a very unfortunate situation that we have been put in by Ms. Saine herself,” wrote Republican Women of Weld President Gillian Smith in a May 17 email to Saine and others.
"We regret to inform you that after talking with the other CD8 candidates and having a Republican Women of Weld officers meeting last night, it is unanimous to NOT allow Lori Saine to participate in our event," Smith wrote in the May 17 email.
After the initial publication of this article, debate organizer Tammy Klein of Republican Women of Weld clarified that the decision to exclude Saine was made solely by her group and not by the other candidates' campaigns.
The situation became more chaotic Friday when Kulmann issued a public call for Saine’s last-minute inclusion in the debate and blaming their opponent, Kirkmeyer, for Saine’s exclusion.
Kulmann wrote on Twitter that Saine “could’ve responded sooner, but she should be on the debate stage, period.”
Kulmann asserted, without evidence, that Saine’s exclusion from the debate wasn’t because of her failure to RSVP but because of political tricks by the Kirkmeyer campaign.
“Barb’s entire campaign has been cashing in 30 years of political favors,” wrote Kulmann. “This is one more example.”
Kulmann spokesman Joshua Marin-Mora said Kulmann had never objected to Saine’s inclusion in the debate. The campaign provided a May 16 email in which Kulmann did not object to Saine participating and said voters should hear from all of the candidates.
Debate moderator Kelly Maher, who also serves as a Republican political expert for 9NEWS, called Kulmann’s announcement “gross” and recused herself from the debate.
“This disingenuous bulls--- is so infuriating I am no longer an objective moderator,” Maher wrote on social media.
Maher had previously been critical of Saine’s claim that she was being excluded unfairly, referring to Saine’s actions as bullying.
“You can’t just drop the ball and then try to play the victim,” Maher wrote. “That’s the opposite of the personal responsibility we ostensibly espouse.”
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