This year's Buzzard Watch 

Just as they always do, El Paso County Republicans are making long, lazy circles around our Congressman-for-life, Colorado's original signer of self-imposed term limits, Joel Hefley. They are dreaming of the day when the nine-term representative will finally make good on his three-term-limit promise, come on home from Washington and make their own political dreams come true.

This year's Buzzard Watch (a term we cannot take credit for coining) officially kicked off last week via a story in Roll Call, the Washington newspaper that covers Congress.

The piece pondered whether Hefley would seek another term, claiming he has become "increasingly vituperative in his battles with House GOP leaders," after he was "snubbed" because he was not appointed the chairman of the "coveted" Resources Committee last year.

If you're like me, you're probably thinking how utterly depressing it would be to live a life where you covet being in charge of something called a Resource Committee.

But believe it; for politicians this is heady stuff. We're talking raw power. As one good friend, a Republican and fellow journalist, put it after living several years in the nation's capital: "I've been here five years; I am no longer human."

She was only half-joking.

Anyway, Roll Call reports that at least a half dozen up-and-coming local Republicans are eager to pick up when and where Hefley leaves off.

They are: Realtor and GOP activist Jack Gloriod, state House Majority Leader Keith King, state Sen. Doug Lamborn, U.S. Attorney John Suthers, former state Senate Majority Leader Jeff Wells and County Commissioner Wayne Williams.

Suthers and Wells are, of course, the perennial names that surface during the annual odd-year Buzzard Watch. Both are longtime players, but, as Roll Call noted, they likely would be considered too moderate for the increasingly conservative politics of our county Republican Party. Plus, they work in Denver.

No one should discount the potential of Keith King. We did once, a long time ago when we predicted that the former District 12 school board member who couldn't get elected to a second term, would never amount to anything when he got to the House of Representatives. Boy, were we ever wrong.

Lamborn's certainly conservative enough for the job, and he's also a nice guy.

As is Williams, a former GOP Chairman who was first elected as a county commissioner last November. He has already been tagged nationally as a rising Republican star, as evidenced in a recent report prepared by an assistant of Congressman Ric Keller's (R-Fl.). The dossier, obtained by the Independent, describes Williams as "extremely ambitious," "very open about his desire" to run for Hefley's seat, "smart," "ruthless" and a "character who is disguised as an 'aw shucks' Mormon father of a bunch of kids."

Interestingly enough, Williams was also the primary sponsor this week of a proclamation declaring April 15 as Equal Pay Day in El Paso County. Women and people of color have long objected to the disparity of equal payment for equal jobs, but efforts for equality have largely proven to come from liberal quarters. Which makes Williams seem almost progressive.

"I have to ask you, 'how come almost?' " Williams said when asked about his stance. "I believe that everyone should be paid fairly. In an obvious reference to the Roll Call piece, Williams added "I did have to ponder that day, 'Am I going to be fierce or am I going to be 'aw shucks?' "

Gloriod, meanwhile, said he was "tickled" and "quite honored" to be listed as a potential Hefley replacement. But he was also somewhat dumbfounded.

Just last month, Gloriod, who serves on the central committee for the state party convention, watched as Hefley took the stage and announced to the crowd that he was in for at least another two years.

"I don't think I'll be going nose to nose with Joel," Gloriod said.

Rep. Hefley has a policy of not speaking to the Independent, and also did not weigh in on the Roll Call piece However, his spokeswoman, Sarah Shelden, was quoted saying her boss "still enjoys his job and he's still planning to run."

In last Sunday's Denver Post, Hefley finally personally weighed in on the rumors of his demise. He had but two words: Strom Thurmond.

-- degette@csindy.com


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