Candidates in four races square off in debate
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Members of the group Colorado Springs Citizens for a Congressman Who Won't Chicken Out leave the city council chambers at the Colorado Springs City Hall Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, after speaking out against Congressman Doug Lamborn who won't debate his Democratic opponent, retired Maj. Gen. Irv Halter, Thursday in the 5th District Congressional debate. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

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Chickens clucked and even plucked a guitar at Colorado Springs City Hall on Tuesday - an effort to persuade Rep. Doug Lamborn to face his opponent, retired Maj. Gen. Irv Halter, at a 5th Congressional District forum scheduled for Thursday.

Members of the group Colorado Springs Citizens for a Congressman Who Won't Chicken Out, a bipartisan political action committee, explained the chicken costumes and theatrics were an attempt to use comic relief to encourage City Council members to sway Lamborn to participate in the forum.

Realtor and Colorado Springs resident Doug Carter addressed City Council members and urged them to ask candidates running for Congress to attend public debates.

"We brought the chickens for attention, but these are matters that are of local and national importance," Carter said. "Colorado Springs deserves at least one debate by those who want to represent us in Washington, D.C."

The "chickens" approached the podium clucking and one of them began to strum a guitar, prompting City Council President Keith King to stop their performance and order them to leave council chambers.

"This is not permitted. We don't play here," King said as a police officer escorted the costumed group out the door.

Halter, a retired Air Force major general and former Republican turned Democrat, challenged Lamborn to a debate soon after the congressman won the June 24 GOP primary.

Lamborn was harshly criticized by his opponents when he announced his refusal to debate Halter, even being labeled a "coward" by El Paso County Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Ricker.

In a statement to The Gazette, Lamborn's campaign spokesman Jarred Rego condemned the group's appearance at City Hall.

"Regrettably, this is further proof of the uncivil campaign Mr. Halter has been running and he should immediately disavow nonsensical, disrespectful, and empty name-calling stunts like this," the statement read.

Halter's campaign spokesman, Ethan Susseles, said the chickens and the Citizens for a Congressman group were not affiliated with the candidate's campaign.

"Congressman Lamborn's arrogant refusal to defend his record is why so many Coloradans dislike Washington," said Susseles in a statement to The Gazette.

"Irv looks forward to participating in this forum, and we hope Congressman Lamborn shows respect for the voters by showing up."

The 5th District Colorado Congressional Debate is scheduled 4:30-5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Carnegie Room at Penrose Library, 
20 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs.

The event is free and open to the public.

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Contact Andrea Sinclair: 636-0235

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