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Off to the races 

This week, former Sheriff John Wesley Anderson declared his candidacy for the United States Congress. In an unexpected turn, a lightning bolt did not strike him down from the heavens.

Why would that happen, you wonder? Well, if you take to heart the words of many powerful Republicans, current officeholder Joel Hefley resides in close proximity to God. Since he has remained mum about seeking an 11th term in office come November, jumping the gun to potentially take him on is disrespectful, uppity, downright unseemly.

Plus, just think of all those same powerful Republicans who want Hefley's job for themselves.

For Anderson, well, he is getting on with it, Hefley or no Hefley. In his announcement, Anderson referenced one of his favorite quotes: "The difference between a politician and a statesman is, a politician is interested in the next election. A statesman is interested in the next generation. This is about the next generation."

Welcome to election year 2006. Get used to hearing all varieties of platitudes. And get used to the vile stuff, too; by Election Day, the question, "How often do you beat your wife?" will constitute a compliment.

With that in mind, our money is on attorney Bob Gardner, a former El Paso County Republican Party chairman who has carved a career playing hardball politics. Though he did not return a call requesting comment this week, several high-level sources have confirmed that Gardner is making the rounds seeking support to replace term-limited state Rep. Keith King in District 21.

In his campaign brochures, Gardner likely won't be promoting many of his various activities of the past several years, and potential constituents might be interested to know more about him. Such as when, in 2002, Gardner was running state Sen. Ed Jones' campaign and tried to intimidate a Colorado Springs cop with an internal investigation over what Gardner deemed unflattering statements made by the officer about his candidate to the media.

Or when, in that same year, Gardner asserted that then-District Attorney Jeanne Smith and Colorado Springs City Manager Lorne Kramer had partied at Ed Jones's favorite watering hole. The infamous, now-closed Leonard's Bar II, where cocaine was trading hands, was littered with posters featuring the word "fuck" as well as photographs of women described as "cunts" and "kunts." (Aghast, Smith and Kramer, a former police chief, vehemently denied Gardner's claim.)

Two years ago, Gardner signed on as a well-paid consultant working to pass a countywide tax to benefit The Resource Exchange, which provides services to people with developmental disabilities. Gardner actually submitted, for voter consumption, the following statements against the very tax he was getting paid to support:

"The families of people with mental retardation, autism and cerebral palsy should take care of their own family member and not expect the government to help. It is their family member and their responsibility!"

"Working with people with mental retardation and other severe disabilities is expensive and the tax money is better spent on other programs where the return on the investment will be greater."

"Many of these disabilities occur at birth as a result of the mother's bad conduct or habits, such as drug or alcohol abuse, or sometimes even due to the mother having the child beyond the age of natural childbirth. By funding programs to care for these children, we are encouraging irresponsibility "

Gardner never explained his irrational cruelty to voters, who ultimately rejected the tax hike.

Which brings us to this year, where Gardner already has made another unfortunate error. He hasn't called on "Mother" Mary Harold, the unsinkable, undeniable headmistress of local GOP politics, who happens to live in the district Gardner wants to represent.

By all accounts, that's disrespectful, uppity, downright unseemly.

Mother Mary, who lately has been under the weather, reports that she is feeling much better, thank you. In fact, she says, "I'm about as mean as usual." In the spirit of Ronald Reagan before her, Harold says that if Gardner is the chosen the Republican candidate, she will support him. But there are, she says, plenty of other smart, capable innovators out there.

"Bob is smart, Bob is capable," Harold says. "I would prefer someone else."

-- degette@csindy.com

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