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Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a Democrat, announces she's running for governor of Colorado on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, at the Spring Cafe in Denver. She joins a primary field of four candidates, including U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston and businessman Noel Ginsburg. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

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Club 20, the venerable Western Slope coalition of government and business leaders, said Friday that Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne won’t be allowed to stand in for Democratic nominee Jared Polis in next month’s political debate in Grand Junction.

When Polis announced which debates he would accept, Club 20 didn’t make the cut. Instead, his campaign chose a debate led by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, as well as televised debates on the Front Range. The campaign said Lynne would serve as his surrogate at the Sept. 8 face-off with GOP nominee Walker Stapleton.

Polis spokesperson Mara Sheldon touted his upcoming visits to the Western Slope and expressed dismay at Club 20’s decision.

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“We’re disappointed in Club 20’s partisan reaction to a scheduling conflict, and nobody benefits from their decision to deny their club members the opportunity to hear from the sitting lieutenant governor, Donna Lynne.”

The Western Slope debate is a 30-year tradition, and Club 20 says it’s never had a major party nominee decide to skip it.

Club 20 board chair Cindy Dozier said in a statement. “Congressman Polis’ decision not to honor the citizens of Western Colorado by participating in our debates is simply outrageous, and we continue to ask for his reconsideration.”

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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