So far, first-term U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs has been "too busy" to debate his two rivals for Colorado's 5th District Republican nomination in the Aug. 12 primary: Jeff Crank, former congressman Joel Hefley's top aide for much of the 1990s, and Bentley Rayburn, a retired Air Force general.
That's interesting, because two years ago, Lamborn garnered just 27 percent of the primary vote, barely squeaking by Crank (25.5 percent). Rayburn collected 17.5 percent, and three others rounded out a tight, bitter, six-way primary. The margin of victory was only 892 votes.
Nor has Lamborn responded to requests that he field questions from the Independent even by phone. Rayburn and Crank visited the Indy office during the past week, staying as long as needed for much constructive discussion.
We contacted Lamborn's office early, realizing his time might be limited to the pre-July 4 congressional recess. We offered to meet whenever and wherever Lamborn wished. His scheduler promised to get back in touch, which never happened. A follow-up voicemail message this week was not returned.
All of this is also a slap in the face to you, if you're one of our 104,000 regular El Paso County readers. The congressman clearly believes his best chance to capture a nomination for another term in the upcoming GOP primary is to hide in Washington, campaigning via slick TV and radio ads, obnoxious robo-calls and direct mail.
This week, in refusing to appear for a Wednesday debate, Lamborn's campaign indicated he would not engage in any debates before the Aug. 12 primary.
Voters deserve to see how their local congressman acts in the flesh, performing on his (or her) feet in front of constituents who have the opportunity to ask tough questions. For more than two centuries, such debates have been a cornerstone of our democracy.
Concerned citizens need not accept this behavior, and should bombard Lamborn with correspondence to that effect. The people of the 5th District should demand that Lamborn participate in at least two debates, one in El Paso County and the other elsewhere in the district, perhaps Buena Vista or Salida.
If asked, the Independent will gladly organize and pay for these debates. We would guarantee large crowds and fair formats, and any debates could be broadcast live via the Internet.
Take five minutes. Right now. Here is how to contact Lamborn or, at least, his staff:
Office phone: 520-0055 (Colorado Springs), 202/225-4422 (Washington, D.C.)
Campaign office phone: 238-9077
Snail mail: 3730 Sinton Road, #150, Colorado Springs, CO 80907
E-mail: Your only option is to go to Lamborn's site, lamborn.house.gov/zipauth.aspx, and fill out the online forms to send a message.
Absentee ballots are about to be mailed, and the primary is less than a month away. Unless Lamborn feels heat, and soon, it is unlikely he will agree to any kind of debate or interview. Please keep the Indy informed of any responses from our congressman by calling us at 577-4545 or e-mailing email@example.com. Thank you.
And don't forget, your registration deadline to vote in the primary, or to change party affiliation, is Monday, July 14.