Once again, much-scorned U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn faces opposition in his path toward another (seventh) term in the House representing Colorado’s Fifth District. But this time it’s not just a longshot Democrat trying to knock off the man forever dreaming of being labeled America’s most conservative congressman.
Already, Lamborn has three well-known challengers — in the Republican primary, no less. First came state Sen. Owen Hill, whose political hunger appears to have no limit. Next to join the battle was Darryl Glenn, the El Paso County commissioner who gave U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet a scare last fall and now has his own insatiable appetite. Finally, we have Tom Strand of the Colorado Springs City Council, clearly a moderate in comparison to the others, jumping into the fray.
It’s delicious, Lamborn being targeted from the right as well as the center, all having served in the Air Force. And since El Paso County dominates the district that also includes Teller, Fremont, Chaffee and Park counties, Lamborn has to be concerned about facing this formidable trio — all of whom have run for office, and won more than once, in the Colorado Springs area.
The setup is a political junkie’s dream, but I’d gladly give up this pulpit to hear what longtime colleague Rich Tosches — aka Ranger Rich — would say. Nobody could fire poison darts with the precision and razor-sharp wit of Tosches, and I’ve lately found myself wondering what he would write about the current president.
As faithful readers recall, Tosches also had fun going after Lamborn. For example, in 2012 when challenger Robert Blaha was calling out Lamborn for trips on the government dime, Ranger Rich thought of the Three Stooges in describing “a campaign in which Moe has accused Curly of jetting around the world with Mrs. Curly, eating in posh restaurants and staying in lavish hotels.” Curly, of course, was Lamborn, representing Pluto. Across the years, Tosches also referred to Lamborn as “smart as a sack full of hammers,” “dumb as a shrub,” “our village’s political wizard” and someone “who is to serious intellectual politics what a trumpet is to salmon fishing.”
So I’ll try to channel Ranger Rich: Lamborn’s strategy will be to crawl into the nearest cave and avoid public appearances, except for gun clubs. He’ll also brag about getting a military cemetery. Hill’s strategy will be to talk about the wonderful job he’s done in the Legislature, defending “life and family values” while adding how he loves riding his motorcycle — or is it a moped? — to Salida and Cañon City. Glenn will talk about repealing the “disastrous” Obamacare and supporting President Donald Trump for continuing war in the Middle East, major issues for any county commissioner. Strand will play the “reasonable Republican” card, despite having joined the party only last year, insisting he’s the best alternative for moderates and even Democrats who might help in an open primary to dethrone Lamborn.
Yes, two Dems are also running, but as Ranger Rich might say, they have as much chance as Hillary and Bill Clinton being invited to spend a free month in The Broadmoor’s Penrose Suite.
Meanwhile, the Republican primary race looks to be the most interesting local GOP race since ... well, 2006, when Lamborn employed a stream of dirty tactics to defeat Jeff Crank (supported by then-retiring Rep. Joel Hefley), former Sheriff John Anderson, Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera, former county commissioner Duncan Bremer and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Bentley Rayburn. With no provision for a runoff, Lamborn won the GOP nomination with just 28 percent, surpassing Crank only when a pile of late absentee ballots came in. Thus, with only 13,633 votes, Lamborn slid through the mud into the seat he now has occupied for six terms.
Can Lamborn become the cat with seven lives? Will his recent criticism of Trump (after Charlottesville) affect his status among America’s Most Intractable Conservatives? Will the region’s GOP voters finally wake up and realize they have a choice?
I’m still waiting to hear back from Ranger Rich. If he wants to weigh in, you’ll be the first to know.