Part of Colorado Springs cannot hide its glee as the Colorado Democratic State Assembly and Convention comes to town. Meanwhile, those in the right-wing majority otherwise known as our local Republicans will try to hold their collective nose, hoping none of the Dems' excitement wears off on the uncertain or undecided in our midst.
You can be certain that our visitors are coming with some trepidation. For those unfamiliar with the Springs, who have been influenced by our steady stream of image-eroding headlines and personalities, this must seem like venturing into North Korea or Cuba.
That's unfounded, of course. We have thousands of wonderful, welcoming, tolerant people here in El Paso County. Many of them actually are Republicans.
But that doesn't mean our GOP is worthy of admiration. Quite the contrary.
At any nearby bar, Dems might find themselves quaffing some of our hometown microbrews with none other than our own district attorney, Republican John Newsome. Yes, he just may be guzzling away at the next table before his office pursues more DUI convictions.
Or our guests might stray into a fast-food restaurant and bump into our esteemed Republican state Rep. Douglas Bruce. Just don't try to take his picture. And heaven forbid you're of Hispanic descent, because he'll call you an "illiterate peasant."
Let's also hope the Democratic delegates don't get lost anywhere on Sinton Road east of Interstate 25, or they might wind up at the office of our Republican congressman, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn. If that happens, they must be sure not to provide any personal information, or they'll be receiving boatloads of glossy mailers and e-messages for months. He actually has a primary fight on his hands.
Oh yeah, and if the Dems include any single women with children, they should stay clear of Republican state Rep. Larry Liston, who might label them sluts as he did on the floor of the Colorado House.
How's that for an honor roll of local Republican celebrities? Also, any or all would be happy to tell you that Sen. John McCain is the best choice to continue the policies of George W. Bush.
Of course, there's a downside to the local political scene. You'd think, with such an array of Republicans behaving badly, local Democrats would be ready to take full advantage in the 2008 election.
Sadly, that's not the case. We have a DA insisting he's not legally impaired after ingesting the equivalent of 11 beers in five hours, and GOP leaders willing to forgive and forget which is all too possible, since the Dems don't have a challenger.
We have a freshman congressman who has been a dud. But the Democratic candidate, Hal Bidlack, faces an uphill battle with no experience and limited funding.
Then there's Rep. Bruce. He still has his faithful followers, but the local GOP machine is lining up behind a primary challenger who's never served in public office. Could be a good opening for the Dems ... except that their opposition looks to be only token and, again, severely underfunded.
We haven't even mentioned our county commissioners, all Republicans, who can't seem to get a clear picture from staff of how to balance their budget and now some think selling park land is a reasonable way to fix the bottom line. Hello?
We have a lot of caring, committed, energetic Democrats (and independents) in El Paso County, capable of helping Barack Obama win the state in November and perhaps swinging the U.S. Senate race more toward Mark Udall. The local party might even have a chance to add more state legislators, such as Pete Lee in the Senate and Chyrese Exline or Dennis Apuan in the House.
But that's about it. Alas, this will be a Republican-dominated town until the local Dems can cultivate more strong candidates, raise serious money and produce more high-profile, charismatic standard-bearers to galvanize the ranks and fuel the fires of outrage toward the likes of Newsome, Lamborn and Bruce.
Bringing the state Democratic convention here is a well-timed positive step. One can only hope this weekend's events, attended by hundreds of local delegates and alternates, will provide needed inspiration.
With that, bring on the Great Liberal Invasion. God knows we could use more political balance around here.
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