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Joel Hefley thought a safe bet to win U.S. House

click to enlarge Joel Hefley
  • Joel Hefley

U.S. Congress

With Rep. Joel Hefley under scrutiny for how he has handled ethics complaints against fellow congressmen, you'd think Democrats would be making hay.

But Fred Hardee, Hefley's opponent in the race for U.S. House, has failed to broadcast the allegations.

It's not that Hardee doesn't have a strong opinion about Hefley, the Republican chairman of the ethics committee, who has been slow to inquire into allegations that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican, solicited questionable contributions.

"Hefley's been trying to cover the ethics thing up," the Democrat said.

Although the matter appears ripe for an attack ad, don't count on seeing one on local television in Congressional District 5. In a contrast with other races fueled by tens of thousands of Democrat dollars, Hardee has raised minimal funds -- not even enough to file with federal elections officials.

click to enlarge Fred Hardee
  • Fred Hardee

"I would be less than honest if I didn't say it's an uphill battle in District 5," said Chris Gates, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party. "But we're not giving away any races. That's why Fred is on the ballot."

Hardee, a small-business owner who says he wants to prevent jobs from going overseas and to help military families struggling in a sour economy, remained optimistic the campaign would somehow air a commercial. But with less than a month to go to the Nov. 2 election, he admitted that there was no film crew on standby, no script written.

Hefley, who routinely refuses requests for interviews, has represented central Colorado for 18 years in spite of previous support for congressional term limits. This year he hasn't raised much money compared to the rest of his party, with more than $80,000 on hand in what so far has been a low-profile campaign.

Bill Ray, a spokesman for the Colorado Republican Party, said Hefley is well regarded.

"As a senior member of the House, his committee assignments are very important," Ray said. "The House works by seniority."

In recent months, several big-business and conservative Christian groups have praised Hefely's voting record. Meanwhile, about a dozen education, labor, minority, environmental and civil liberties groups give Hefley extremely low ratings, according to Project Vote Smart, a nonprofit group started by Republicans and Democrats to keep tabs on how lawmakers vote.

-- Michael de Yoanna

  • Joel Hefley thought a safe bet to win U.S. House

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