Mr. Lamborn is going to Washington. Is he ready for Stephen Colbert?
"I don't think anyone's ever ready for Colbert," said Doug Lamborn, who, at last, showed the type of good-natured cheer on election night that his constituents, frankly, haven't seen for awhile. The race between Lamborn and Democrat Jay Fawcett had its ugly, ugly moments like the one during a Cañon City debate, when Lamborn pointed to an audience member who had refuted something the candidate was saying and sternly advised the man, "Why don't you keep your mouth shut?"
Throughout the campaign, the polling numbers in the traditional GOP stronghold vacillated wildly. A Denver Post poll last month had Lamborn and Democrat Jay Fawcett in a dead heat; other factors, including retiring Rep. Joel Hefley's refusal to endorse Lamborn amid admonishments that he ran a "sleazy" and "dishonest" campaign, piqued national interest.
For his part, Fawcett became increasingly aggressive, especially toward the end, when his campaign started calling Lamborn a liar and other choice names. (Hint to Democrats: Joel Hefley can call Lamborn sleazy and dishonest you can't. That kind of talk makes the elephants circle the wagons.)
Anyway, the "You shut up" side of Lamborn was a fading memory on Tuesday night, as the Republican savored a landslide victory in a year when, for the Party, they were few and far between.
We have rightfully poked fun at the GOP's choice of election night party headquarters, the cavernous Mr. Biggs Family Fun Center in north-central Colorado Springs, with its laser tag, Go-Karts and Battle Tech. It's where Lamborn's chief rival, Jeff Crank, held his primary Election Night shindig, only to suffer a painful defeat.
In a year when everything appeared to be going shades of Democratic blue, more than a few wags questioned whether Mr. Biggs was a bad omen; but it turns out the fun center's symbolic cartoon character must like Mr. Lamborn awhole lot better, "cause he's giving him a magic carpet ride all the way to the nation's capital.
In the not-surprised-at-all category, voters overwhelmingly rejected Republicans Ed Jones, who apparently expected to be delivered a second term in the state Senate while having to lift nary a finger, and Kyle Fisk, who (disastrously, it turns out) relied on Pastor Ted Haggard's influence via, among other things, a letter of endorsement, to try to land a seat in the state House of Representatives.
On Tuesday, state Rep. Michael Merrifield handily shut down Fisk, an associate pastor at one of Haggard's satellite churches, by a 60-40 margin. The victory came just hours after a run-in at the First Presbyterian Church downtown, a polling place. Merrifield says he was informed that Fisk was inside, instructing judges to throw away questionable ballots, so he called his lawyer and drove to the church. He parked his car across the street while he waited for his lawyer to show up.
Enter Bob Gardner, a lawyer and former county Republican chairman, who himself won a seat in Colorado's House of Representatives on Tuesday. As is often the case with Gardner, he just so happened to also be at the polling place, and complained that Merrifield was parked within 100 feet of the polls. The candidate, you see, had a "Michael Merrifield for the State House" bumper sticker on his car, and Gardner accused Merrifield of electioneering.
The upshot? Merrifield left, and filed a complaint with the county Clerk & Recorder's Office, accusing Fisk of illegally being in a polling place. Gardner filed a complaint accusing Merrifield of electioneering.
"I guess I must have the most persuasive bumper sticker in the state," Merrifield said of the complaint against him. "Just my name casts fear on the Republicans."
And then there's Jones, an incumbent Republican who got walloped by newcomer John Morse. You may remember Morse: He's the guy the Trailhead Group, that shadowy Denver-based Republican 527, mercilessly attacked in radio ads and mailers, trying to convince voters that he was "incompetent" while the chief of police in Fountain.
Fourth Judicial District Attorney John Newsome is still investigating whether Trailhead operatives violated a criminal statute with their activities attacking Morse. For his part, Jones stayed hidden for much of the campaign, so much so that it grew increasingly obvious that he simply expected Trailhead operatives to do all his work for him.
Is it any wonder voters opted instead for a candidate who worked tirelessly, walking the district and actually talking to voters? Or as he puts it, "asking them what was important, rather than telling them what was important"?
And as for the Trailhead Group, an organization that spent the campaign lobbing nasty attacks against not just Morse but Democrats all over the state, perhaps its operatives can learn a lesson from the 5th Congressional District's newest representative: "If you stick to the issues and not make it personal, voters will respond."
Late on Election Night, Lamborn took on his earnest tone, and, as he so often did during the campaign, evoked his hero: "I'm honored at this trust that has been placed upon me, and I'll do my best to fulfill that trust and stand for Ronald Reagan's values."
Yes, we're looking forward to the Colbert interview with delicious anticipation ...
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