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Congressional candidates spar over roaring economy versus those left behind

Nick Coltrain, Fort Collins Coloradoan Published 8:30 p.m. MT Sept. 26, 2018 | Updated 8:59 a.m. MT Sept. 28, 2018

Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Republican nominee Peter Yu, center-left, and Democratic nominee Joe Neguse, center-right, cross-examine each other while moderators, Tobias Hild, left, and Zipporah Rowe, right, keep an eye on the timer on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan

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Two sons of immigrants laid out starkly different views of the United States on Wednesday night: One of a booming economy with unemployment at a snake-belly low; the other, a country where new graduates are saddled with debt and struggle with housing, while others worry a sudden health care crisis will bankrupt them.

Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Republican Peter Yu gives his opening statement before participated in a debate with Democratic nominee Joe Neguse on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan

Peter Yu, a Republican seeking to represent Congressional District 2, chided his Democratic opponent, Joe Neguse, for supporting impeachment of President Donald Trump. An audience member in Loveland gasped, and Yu accused Neguse of trying to sabotage American prosperity.

Neguse fired back that the prosperity Yu described didn’t reach all the friends and neighbors of people gathered in the Loveland Classical School’s auditorium.

“The country he’s describing, it sounds like there’s no problems he seeks to solve,” Neguse said. “I’d like to go to Congress to solve problems.”

The debate was organized by 11th-graders in the school’s U.S. government class. It involved the two top candidates for office, in this case representing the two major parties. Roger Barris, a Libertarian, and Nick Thomas, an unaffiliated candidate, are being invited to a separate forum Oct. 14, though the latter watched some of the debate unfold.

Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Democratic nominee Joe Neguse cross-examines Republican nominee Peter Yu during a debate on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan

While the two men on stage painted different versions of the country, they also highlighted their shared history as first-generation Americans, though their personal backgrounds split soon after ­— another highlighted point of contention.

Neguse formed New Era Colorado, a voter registration group, soon after graduating from college, and continued his civic mindedness with a stint in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s cabinet and as a member of the University of Colorado’s Board of Regents. Yu spent 20 years in corporate America and boasted about never serving in public office, including local boards and commissions, or pushing public policy.

Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Republican nominee Peter Yu cross-examines Democratic nominee Joe Neguse during a debate on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan

Yu argued it meant he wasn’t beholden to any groups or individuals; Neguse argued his own experience meant he was the only one on stage with experience governing and legislating.

Neguse goes into the race with a clear voter advantage. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat who is hoping to trade Washington, D.C., for the governor’s mansion in Denver, reliably won his general election campaigns in the district.

Beckham Coberly, 1, plays with toy cars while his father Guy Coberly watches a debate between Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Democratic nominee Joe Neguse and Republican nominee Peter Yu on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan

But Yu argued that fact is a reason to vote for him. Democrats, he argued, get comfortable in a safe seat. He would need to focus on responding to constituents to constantly earn support.

“I can’t just go by my views. We need to make sure to work with every single person,” Yu said, adding that if you vote for him, “you’re working with someone who from the get-go is down nine points.”

Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Democratic nominee Joe Neguse gives his opening statement before participates in a debate with Republican nominee Peter Yu on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan
The timer runs as Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Democratic nominee Joe Neguse, right, participates in a debate with Republican nominee Peter Yu on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan
Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Democratic nominee Joe Neguse participates in a debate with Republican nominee Peter Yu on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan
Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Republican nominee Peter Yu participates in a debate with Democratic nominee Joe Neguse on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan
Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Republican nominee Peter Yu, left, and Democratic nominee Joe Neguse, right, shake hands while moderator Tobias Hild grabs the microphone after a debate on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan
Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Democratic nominee Joe Neguse shakes hands with Loveland resident Becky Peters while her husband Tim looks on after Neguse participated in a debate with Republican nominee Peter Y on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan
Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Republican Peter Yu shakes hands with St. Louis, Mo. resident Anna Stover after participated in a debate with Democratic nominee Joe Neguse on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Stover was in town visiting relatives. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan
Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Democratic nominee Joe Neguse walks down a hallway on his way to a debate with Republican nominee Peter Yu on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan
Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District Republican nominee Peter Yu shakes hands with an audience member on his way to a debate with Democratic nominee Joe Neguse on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland, Colo. Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan
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