In the final debate Tuesday evening between the two men vying for the Democratic nomination in the race for U.S. Senate in Colorado — former Gov. John Hickenlooper and former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff — the candidates squared off on racial justice, health care and climate change during a 90-minute exchange.

The debate was the last of three the candidates had and the first where they met in person — in the Denver7 studio. Previous debates were conducted virtually because of social distancing protocols made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic. The Democratic primary is June 30.

“Health care is a right — it’s not a privilege,” Hickenlooper said toward the beginning of the debate. “And we’ve got to get to universal coverage. I think Barack Obama built a great legacy for this country in terms of the Affordable Care Act but he didn’t get to finish it.”

Romanoff, who has called for Medicare for All and emphasized universal health care, targeted the insurance industry Tuesday.

“I’ve met so many folks across this state who have been devastated not only by mental illness and drug addiction, but also by an industry that bases its profits on its ability to deny as many claims and exclude as many sick people as possible,” he said.

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff debates Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in the studio of Denver7 in Denver on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. The debate, held ahead of the Democratic primary, was sponsored by The Denver Post, Colorado Public Radio News, Denver7 and the University of Denver’s Center on American Politics. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

Racial justice was a big topic during the debate, given the protests that have been taking place on the streets of Denver and multiple other cities following the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who was pinned by the neck under a white Minneapolis police officer’s knee.

Both candidates conceded that they had not done enough to address the issue during their time in politics. Hickenlooper said despite efforts to reform police conduct in Denver when he was mayor of the city during the 2000s, “we didn’t go far enough and I regret that.”

Romanoff echoed those sentiments, saying “none of us have done enough.”

Both candidates said they would reopen the case of Elijah McClain, an unarmed black man who died during a violent arrest in Aurora last summer. The officers involved in that incident were cleared of any criminal charges by the Adams County district attorney.

Hickenlooper and Romanoff took slightly different positions on whether the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency should be abolished, with Romanoff saying it should and Hickenlooper saying it should be reformed.

Tuesday’s debate was sponsored by The Denver Post, Colorado Public Radio News, Denver7 and the University of Denver’s Center on American Politics.

The race has drawn national attention as Democrats seek to regain the majority in the U.S. Senate. Colorado’s demographics have been trending more blue in recent years, and two polls released in early May showed Hickenlooper unseating Republican incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner in November.

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper debates former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff in the studio of Denver7 in Denver on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. The debate, held ahead of the Democratic primary, was sponsored by The Denver Post, Colorado Public Radio News, Denver7 and the University of Denver’s Center on American Politics. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

Hickenlooper, the candidate favored by the establishment wing of the party, has found himself on the defensive of late, dogged by an ethics investigation that ended in a contempt finding and a $2,750 fine. At a debate last week, Romanoff urged Hickenlooper to bow out of the race.

No primary polls have been publicly released, as the more progressive Romanoff has been presumed to be a long shot. Hickenlooper used that as a cudgel Tuesday, telling his opponent that “you haven’t won yet statewide.”