Primary still deserves analysis

Between the Lines

| July 04, 2012
Ballots had to be moved for final counting.
Ballots had to be moved for final counting.
- Chet Hardin

For months, anyone with much awareness in area politics had been salivating over the 2012 primary election — mainly because there was uncertainty inside the Republican ranks.

This time incumbents and familiar veterans weren't immune from internal GOP opposition, from U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn to several state legislators and two county commissioners.

Yet even before the west end of El Paso County ignited and the Waldo Canyon Fire stole the show in the primary's final hours, the anticipated drama never really materialized. The lesser-known challengers, despite being given every opportunity, didn't have the substance or staying power.

Then the blaze in the mountains stifled any late voter interest. In the end, of course, we didn't even know the final election outcomes on that fateful Tuesday night (see "Election, interrupted.")

Fortunately, all the races here were decided from the single release of early election night results. Lamborn disposed of Robert Blaha, while on the state level, House Majority Leader Amy Stephens thumped Rep. Marsha Looper, and Owen Hill easily defeated state Rep. Larry Liston for a Senate seat. Meanwhile, Commissioners Sallie Clark and Dennis Hisey breezed to victory.

Most margins were in the 60-40 range, wider than anticipated. And once all the ballots were tabulated, the county turnout actually was better than four years ago, up from about 51,000 in the congressional primary of 2008 (when Lamborn defeated Jeff Crank and Bentley Rayburn) to 61,112 this time.

So, with more of the fire apparently coming under control, let's quickly analyze the primary election, then focus on the Lamborn-Blaha race.

First, the GOP establishment has to feel relieved, with Stephens beating Looper and Clark conquering Karen Magistrelli's challenge. (She faces another, from Democrat John Morris, in November.) The size of Liston's loss was a slight surprise, and it's true that Liston (with his eight years in the House) could have been far more effective in the Senate than Hill probably will ever be. But there simply was no voter revolt here.

Second, the improved turnout clearly indicates the mail-ballot-only setup brought a positive influence to the primary, not negative as some feared. Given that the fire deterred many from voting in the final days, you have to wonder what the turnout would've been without such a huge late distraction. After seeing widespread apathy in other states' primaries, we can say that problem doesn't exist here.

Third, we should note the Pueblo district attorney race, with Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner unseating incumbent DA Bill Thiebaut by roughly a 53-47 margin. That should bode well for Pueblo being more cooperative in pushing the Southern Delivery System forward, though Thiebaut has six more months in office to cause disruptions (and will probably try to do just that).

As for Lamborn-Blaha, despite much evidence of dissatisfaction with Lamborn, not enough GOP voters saw Blaha as a capable alternative. Simply being the anti-Lamborn with a lot of money wasn't enough. Blaha turned off gun supporters in the one public forum he had with Lamborn, and never seemed to recover.

Also lost in those results was the apathy in the 5th Congressional District's other five counties — Teller, Fremont, Park, Chaffee and Lake — with only 6,011 votes in all of them combined (4,305 for Lamborn, 1,706 for Blaha).

Looking ahead to November, merely on the strength of his margin over Blaha (62-38 percent), Lamborn is favored at the start against his next foe, independent Dave Anderson. But that race still looks intriguing, because Anderson will come after Lamborn with a different strategy.

Besides appealing to those who are tired of Lamborn, Anderson plans to offer a much more refreshing alternative. He has pledged not to be negative, instead offering plenty of knowledge and ideas related to the economy, business and job creation. Perhaps the toughest part for Anderson will be trying to beat Lamborn in El Paso County during a presidential election year, but we've heard enough negative sentiment toward Lamborn (even during the fire), that voters still might embrace an alternative with an upbeat outlook and an "I" beside his name.

We'll have four more months to watch that.

Otherwise, this primary is already forgotten.


Comments (2)

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Mr Routon, most likely you are correct that: “this primary is already forgotten.”

For many of us who see the 9.4% unemployment rate (30,000 people), it has not and will not be forgotten. So much of this is a result of the national recession. Perhaps 60%. The other 40% ? Is it due to the fact that our county commissioners, going back for years, have been ‘anti-business’ and that the elimination of the business property tax that was going to drive people in droves to the region did not?

Reno/Lake Tahoe, under the guidance of Mike Kazmierski, just announced having landed a major company (Apple) to their area creating 400 very high paying jobs. They are on-track to see 2000 new jobs for this year. For 2011, 1810 jobs moved OUT out of the Springs.

The one major bright spot for jobs was the Walmart Data Center. No big deal with 40 jobs. But a big deal in the signal it could send to other major firms needing to host their data operations.

But maybe not. Sallie Clark almost torpedoed the Walmart deal coming close to sending it to Charlotte. Over the last weekend before this deal came to the county for approval of the tax incentive - - with approval by the city, the school district involved, the business community, the Chamber and the EDC, that very organization – in a last minute frenzy, had to spend an additional $4,000 to have Summit Economics prepare a special last minute report on the economic benefit to the region - - all to convince Sallie Clark to change her mind and approve the incentive package.

If you have already made up your mind we need new real vision and leadership and want to see this Board of Commissioners moved out to pasture - - and need a home with others working to defeat Sallie Clark, and Amy Lathen in the next election – log on and volunteer.

Our recent surveys indicated Mrs. Clark would take the primary by 57% to 43%. She won: 59%. The same surveys indicated that if subject to a county-wide vote, not just those from district 3, Mrs. Clark would lose 47% to 53%. She can be beat.

When nobody does anything, Nothing Happens! This is time to do something.

As a community, facing a serious budget crisis – exacerbated by the need to pay for the Waldo Canyon fire, voters have turned down 24 of the last 26 tax measures – and often, “lack of trust in local elected officials” has been stated as the reason.

When lack of trust comes to mind, what comes first: The Term Limit Trio?

And second? The fact civic leaders chose to exclude county officials during the Presidential visit on Friday. See companion letter in this edition of the Independent entitled: “Fire’s Missing Piece”. Could this be due to the comments by Amy Lathen in her “open letter to El Paso County Republicans” where she states: “Marxism or Liberty – Fascism or Liberty – Obama or Liberty” The government keeps track of who is who before the President arrives in a community - Did the Secret Service keep county commissioners from the man we elected to be our President - or was it the wisdom of local civic leaders?

Either way, is this the inter-agency cooperation, civility and regional cooperation that will move the region forward or it the kind of petty politics creating discord and creating gridlock?

One can have opposing differing political views and keep it civil. Only if we unseat the uncivil.

report 8 likes, 1 dislike   
Posted by Staci6 on 07/04/2012 at 4:38 AM

Vote out Lamborn and Clark!

report 1 like, 1 dislike   
Posted by TruthB on 07/06/2012 at 5:15 PM
Showing 1-2 of 2

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