When intolerance isn't such a bad thing 

State Rep. Dave Schultheis is rabidly anti-tax, anti-immigration and anti-homosexual, and says that intolerance in Colorado Springs only exists against people of faith. And actually, the Republican suggests, there's nothing inherently wrong with being intolerant, anyway.

But not everyone is on board. This year, the right-leaning Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce has refused to endorse Schultheis' ascendancy to the open State Senate District 9 in northern Colorado Springs. (The Chamber, which is the area's largest pro-business political action committee, has also declined to endorse his Democratic opponent, former Army sharpshooter Keely Marrs.)

Bad news for Schultheis, but, hey, at least decapitated rabbits and rabbit entrails haven't shown up on his doorstep. That's what he reported six years ago indignantly claiming he was the victim of intolerance when running for the state House of Representatives.

Anyway, maybe the Chamber's reluctance has something with how Schultheis answered the organization's candidate questionnaire this year including this question, which he has posted at his Web site at daveschultheis.com:

Chamber question: "Many businesses in our area have encountered problems recruiting a strong workforce because individuals are unwilling to come to a community they perceive as having a reputation for being intolerant and exclusive. What are you willing to do to help change that perception? [Also] in an effort to increase our economic vitality and promote a strong workforce, would you be willing to incorporate a tone into your public stance that will help change the reputation of our community for the positive and, if so, how?"

Schultheis answer [italics are ours]: "I do not particularly see this as a problem in Colorado Springs, except from certain members of the homosexual community that continue to make it a problem. Many feel that intolerance in this community, to the extent it exists is directed towards people of faith who hold to traditional family values. I do not necessarily acknowledge intolerance as a bad trait in and of itself. Each of us is tolerant and intolerant of many issues that come before us each day.

"Businesses can hire ... and should be able to hire the best and the brightest and set their own policies of employment.

"As far as "tone'," Schultheis continues, "I believe my views reflect the majority of those in SD 9, and only express them when asked specifically. I do not favor domestic partnerships or civil unions ... and do not see that stance changing."

Stephannie Finley, the Chamber's president of government affairs and public policy, says the Chamber's PAC determined that neither candidate's core values were aligned with those of the business organization, so the group decided not to endorse in the race.

"I don't think we share a common vision," Finley says, when asked for a response to Schultheis' positions. "Keely is an impressive young lady who will do well for the community, but we're also mindful of reality."

In other words, there is no way the Chamber thinks Marrs stands a chance in State Senate District 9, which is being vacated by U.S. congressional candidate Doug Lamborn. The district is considered a GOP stronghold as is the House seat that Schultheis, who has embraced both Douglas Bruce and the anti-immigrant Minuteman movement, has represented for the past six years.

Schultheis certainly appears comfortable broadcasting his pro-intolerance positions. But back in 2000, when he was running the first time, he got downright paranoid about being targeted by the evil forces of darkness.

In one infamous letter Schultheis sent to supporters (which amused observers subsequently dubbed "The Rabbit Letter"), he claimed he was being harassed for his Christian beliefs.

"Since I announced my candidacy ... my wife and I have been the subject of extreme intolerance for our conservative views," Schultheis wrote. "On several occasions we have been vandalized by perpetrators who have left decapitated rabbits and entrails on the front porch of our home. We see this as a form of extreme intolerance for people who hold our Judeo-Christian values."

Schultheis, a close personal friend of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, didn't explain the connection between headless-rabbit vandalism and anti-Christian sentiments. But he made it clear he suspected the "extremely liberal wing of the Republican Party" was attempting to thwart him.

He handily won that election, and has won every one since.



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