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No one knows when the presidential election will end, but here in El Paso County, Republicans are positively boiling over (pardon the pun, George W., couldn't help it) with exuberance about keeping every single one of the 13 seats in El Paso County's delegation to the state Legislature.

By all accounts, keeping hold of House District 17 in south-central Colorado Springs was a real nailbiter for the Republicans. The Grand Old Party was so worried that a Democrat might actually win that they actually convinced Congressman Joel Hefley to become a telemarketer for their little-known candidate Mark Cloer, who was running against seasoned campaigner, Democrat Ed Raye.

Rep. Hefley, state Sen. Mary Ellen Epps and County Commissioner Ed Jones all sent out mass electronic phone calls to people living within the district to stump for their new best friend.

The telemarketing strategy may have been a little bizarre, but it certainly was effective. The following is a rough rendition of the type of messages that were left: Hello! I'm Joel Hefley, your Congressman! I'm calling to tell you what a great guy this Mark Cloer is! He's a really, really great guy and he believes in everything that you believe in! So on Nov. 7, vote for Cloer! Did I mention what a great pal he is?

Guess what? It worked. Cloer squeaked into office, winning by 111 votes. The local Republican Party is to be truly commended for their efforts. And hopefully, Cloer took some of his campaign cash and used it to buy a big bouquet of roses for his favorite congressman, er, pal.

* * * * * * * * *

By contrast, over in the tight District 22 race to replace outgoing Rep Marcy Morrison, Republican stealth candidate Dave Schultheis pulled off a win over Democrat Mike Merrifield, whose name, by the way, was spelled wrong on the ballot by El Paso County's Republican Clerk and Recorder Patrick Kelly.

Schultheis beat the Democrat by 682 votes. Though Morrison refused to take a stand in the race involving her longtime nemesis Schultheis, Colorado Springs Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace stepped in at the 11th hour to endorse Merrifield.

In a Nov. 3 prepared statement, issued by the Merrifield campaign, the mayor of Colorado Springs said she likes the former Manitou Springs City Councilman because he is a proven community leader, and, as a 28-year educator, is a strong advocate for children.

"I have known Michael for many years, beginning when he was director of the youth choir at First United Methodist Church," the mayor wrote.

However, Makepeace didn't give the nod until a mere four days before the election. Talk about bad timing. Thousands of absentee ballots were already in, and Merrifield's campaign had virtually no chance of capitalizing on the endorsement.

Now, Makepeace will have to suck up to Schultheis. And, as one seasoned Republican pol has noted, Schultheis doesn't exactly have the reputation of letting bygones be bygones. For that matter, neither do a number of other El Paso County Republicans, which may prove to be a little sticky if Madame Mayor decides to run for some other office.

But at least Makepeace stuck to her principles, which, in this age of political backstabbing, is noteworthy.

* * * * * * * * *

The Law Enforcement Alliance of America also got involved in a big way in both District 17 and 22 races, sending out impressive-looking, four-color glossy fliers praising both Cloer and Schulheis for their similar tough-on-crime stances. In fact, the fliers claimed that both candidates just happened to have similar "detailed" three-point plans to combat crime.

Voters who got these professionally-designed fliers may have been comforted when they saw that they were sponsored by a group with a name like the Law Enforcement Alliance of America. After all, everyone is just one crime away from becoming a victim.

The LEAA is an outfit based in Falls Church, Va., that claims to be "the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of law enforcement professionals, crime victims and concerned citizens united for justice" representing rank and file police officers around the country.

But guess what? The group is actually funded almost entirely by the National Rifle Association. At least five legitimate cop groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, the National Sheriff's Association and the Major Chiefs Association, have denounced the Law Enforcement Alliance of America as an organization that does not represent the interests of cops. Perhaps both Cloer -- as well as Schultheis -- should take some more of that campaign cash and send the NRA bouquets of roses for thanks and gratitude. We're sure the NRA will be happy to reciprocate.

-- degette@csindy.com

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