In a first, Libertarian candidate in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race qualifies for major debate |

In a first, Libertarian candidate in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race qualifies for major debate

Colorado’s U.S. Senate race begins in earnest this week with a major surprise: the Libertarian candidate will participate in the first debate.

Lily Tang Williams will join Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Darryl Glenn at the Club 20 debate Saturday in Grand Junction — a significant opportunity to boost the Libertarian Party’s exposure in Colorado in a year in which voters are looking for alternatives to the major party candidates at the top of the ticket.

The 52-year-old small businesswoman and Chinese immigrant is the first third-party candidate in recent memory to qualify for a major U.S. Senate debate in Colorado, said Libertarian Chairman Jay North.

“I’m going to tell people that I offer a real third option,” Williams said in an interview. “The two-party duopoly in our country has not worked well.”

Williams qualified for the debate after new figures released Tuesday showed the Libertarian Party reached 1 percent of registered voters in Colorado — the threshold to participate in the Club 20 debate, which serves as unofficial kickoff of the fall campaign.

Just days ago, the Western Slope civic organization told Williams that she could not participate after mid-August voter registration numbers put the Libertarian party at 0.977 percent, just 0.023 percentage points shy of the threshold.

The Libertarian Party — which originated in Colorado — now counts 37,551 registered members, or 1.02 percent of the 3.68 million total voters in the state.


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