Whew. Primaries are over. As you read this, the results from Tuesday's election undoubtedly have some people very happy.
Usually, winning the Republican primary in El Paso County means coasting into office. In two races, however, challengers have been biding their time, patiently building campaigns they hope will derail the November coronations.
Independent Dave Anderson faces U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, the GOP nominee in Colorado's 5th Congressional District, while former county Democratic Party chair John Morris is running against incumbent Sallie Clark for county commissioner in District 3.
Ten years ago, Anderson lost a business.
"I built up a company from nothing, with over 800 employees and six locations," he says of his former electronics assembly outfit. "In 2001 and 2002, those jobs went to China. So, for me, this race is very personal."
Job creation, more than any issue, is what the first-time candidate wants to discuss.
"You can do all the internal company operations right. You can have the best floor operations in the world, and still lose because the macro-economic policy is not what it needs to be.
"We've got too many Hewlett-Packard engineers stocking shelves at Home Depot."
The solution? For starters, fix our trade policies, he says. Anderson is a founding board member of Washington, D.C.-based Coalition for a Prosperous America, a nonprofit seeking trade policy reform with an eye on balancing the trade deficit.
Frank Shannon, a local Republican, has been working with Anderson for seven or eight years, "lobbying Congress and the Colorado delegation on getting some votes right on bills that we have been pushing."
For example, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act would, according to its summary, require action against "foreign countries with fundamentally undervalued currency."
Multiple attempts to pass this bill have failed in Congress, with it making its way through the House before dying in the Senate, or vice versa. But Shannon says it has the support of the majority of Colorado's congressional delegation, except for Lamborn and Democratic Rep. Jared Polis.
"Dave and I have been lobbying Congressman Lamborn since before he got elected," Shannon says, "trying to get him right on this issue, and he's just basically been wrong on every vote. ... Every opportunity he's had, he's voted with the globalists, the trans-national corporations, and pretty much against the domestic producers."
"There is no such thing as free trade," says Anderson. "All we can get is competitive markets. But first we have to stop other countries from cheating."
Anderson knows he's viewed as a longshot, but he says his economic views appeal to both sides of the aisle. In fact, as Shannon points out, "if you push me into saying who supports our views the most, I'd have to admit that it's the Democrat[ic] Party." However, he adds, "in the Republican Party, it's the moderate or mainstream Republicans like myself, that agree with us."
Anderson points to his endorsements as proof of his coalition-building skills, from Tom Neppl, CEO of Springs Fabrication who hosted Mitt Romney at a local rally, to former Vice Mayor Richard Skorman, who has regarded himself as independent.
"People will be able to, in the coming weeks, compare the policy content that's in our platform against what anybody else has," he says. "We're going to be head and shoulders above anybody, certainly anybody who wins that primary.
"The people know that as wealth has vaporized in the past three years, and incomes decline, that the truth gap increases."
The primary between Commissioner Sallie Clark and newcomer Karen Magistrelli stuck to the old script of competing to prove who is the more conservative, says Morris.
"It's all a formula of what you'd expect them to do," he says.
However, he says, it will be telling who wins. Magistrelli attempted to focus on integrity; Clark has touted experience. "It will be interesting to see which resonates with Republicans," he says.
Morris is running, he says, to provide a different perspective to county government.
"I am the alternative voice. We've had the same voices on the commission for the last 40 years, and we've had this incestuous dance where a commissioner becomes a clerk and a clerk becomes a treasurer," he says. "And it's all the same people circulating around in this musical chairs. But I think that government requires some diversity of voice."
That issue, he believes, will resonate with voters.
"And not just Democrats or progressives, but with anyone who is tired of hearing that same old voice," he says, adding that though he's a Democrat, he would represent a large number of Republicans.
"I want them to know where I stand as they vote for me, so that if they elect me they know what they are getting," he says. "But at the same time, you have to solve problems for your district. You have to get things done as well, but getting things done with a different kind of perspective going into the decision-making."
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