With a city election still underway, it's arguably crazy to be talking about an election slated for November 2016. Yet the race for state Senate District 12 already seems to be heating up. Controversial Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, who just completed his first session serving state House District 15, has announced he's running for that Senate seat, which covers much of eastern El Paso County.
Klingenschmitt declared after Bob Gardner, the Republican attorney and former Air Force officer who served four terms in the state House, filed to run in SD 12.
In an email to voters 10 days ago, headed "Stop Bob 'Obamacare' Gardner," Klingenschmitt contended he is "campaigning against a liberal Republican," and, while soliciting contributions, said, "I'm also the underdog ... Bob is wealthy, and I am not."
Gardner, reached by phone at his South Tejon Street law office Monday, said, "I'm an attorney in sole practice, I work very hard and I would have more personal wealth had I not spent a good deal of time in public service — but I found it very rewarding ... I'm not wealthy."
As for his name being made synonymous with Obamacare, Gardner says, "I've opposed Obamacare from the very beginning and continue to do so. I was bitterly disappointed with Chief Justice Roberts joining with the liberals on the Court to allow Obamacare to move forward, but it is what happened — and I will continue to oppose the Affordable Care Act."
It's thought the Senate seat will be won in the Republican primary. Gardner says he filed so early — he's not yet made a formal announcement — due to "a need to begin reaching out to the primary voters."
Asked what he makes of Klingenschmitt's early attack, he says, "There's a difference between having a backbone and being a bonehead."
Klingenschmitt, reached by phone Monday, said, "It's never too early to stand up for liberty ... I believe in, and have a history of, standing up for pro-life, traditional marriage and religious freedom. These are my core principles, and I think they're vastly different than my opponent's."
Last Thursday, Josh Hosler, a 34-year-old former Marine, and a businessman, announced his candidacy to succeed Klingenschmitt in HD 15. In a phone interview Monday, the Republican and "lifelong conservative" said of the timing, "I wanted to make sure that not only do I share that I'm going to be an active representative, but that [I show that] I'm a workhorse."