29 August 2006

Could a Democrat represent Colorado Springs in the U.S. House?

As impossible as it sounds, it's now a possibility.

Colorado Springs is home to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Peterson AFB, NORAD, Fort Carson, and Rev. James Dobson's Focus on the Family.  It's redder than a ripe tomato down there.

It is also the home of U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley, who had previously announced he would not be running for re-election after 20 years of honorable service in Congress.  Hefley, once perceived as a right-wing tool, has over time come to be seen and respected on both sides of the aisle as a decent, principled man.  In fact, what may have prompted Hefley to step down after two decades was his run-in with "The Hammer" himself, Tom DeLay.  Hefley wanted DeLay, a fellow Republican, admonished before the House for myriad ethics violations; the effort cost Hefley his chairmanship of the ethics committee, as well as the scorn of all of DeLay's yapping chihuahuas overrunning the joke that is the Republican Party these days.  DeLay was ultimately run out of the House, while Hefley–absolved in the public eye at any rate–is leaving on his own terms.

Now after a primary feeding frenzy for the open 5th District seat, won on the GOP side by dirtbag state senator Doug Lamborn, the 71-year-old Hefley has decided to not go gently into that good night.  According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Hefley is mulling a run for his own seat as a write-in candidate.

Local Republican chinwaggers told the Gazette that "a number of party leaders, including elected officials, have begged Hefley to run again because of concerns about how Lamborn conducted his primary campaign."  The retiring congressmen apparently shared their concerns.  Meanwhile, the Lamborn camp is–understandably–in full panic mode.  Hefley is not likely to win as a write-in, but he could do enough damage to Lamborn's chances that for the first time in its 33-year history, the 5th District might be represented by a Democrat.

While the Springs is by and large elephantine, those of the donkey persuasion certainly exist.  Pockets of brazen liberals are tolerated here and there, mostly on the campus of Colorado College.  But what is of more serious concern to Republicans is the growing general disillusionment with the costly antics and hapless warmongering of the Bush administration.  Lamborn's oily demeanor doesn't help things, and neither does the dissing of his campaign manager, who said that Hefley's potential run "seems like sour grapes" presumably since his former aide was among the many losers in the GOP primary.

It's dangerous to be dismissive of Hefley in a town like Colorado Springs.  People see him as a throwback to a kindler, gentler time of rule under a less buffoonish Bush.  Even Democrats won't typically lump Hefley in with the squawking chickenhawks of the neocon army, despite his conservative voting record and unwavering support for the military.

This might all be to the advantage of the formerly irrelevant Democrat candidate, Jay Fawcett.  Republicans, moderates and independents turned off by Lamborn are quietly turning their attention to Fawcett, the son of a steelworker and an Academy grad himself.  Thirteen Republicans have even publicly announced their support for him, according to the Gazette.

A Hefley write-in candidacy could be enough to sink Lamborn in November.  If things can change so radically in as staunch a Republican stronghold as Colorado Springs, anything is possible.  To that end, I'd strongly suggest that Lamborn operatives volunteer themselves to help the campaigns of Marilyn Musgrave and Tom Tancredo.

UPDATE: No sooner did I crank this bastard out than I got word that Hefley has decided not to attempt a write-in candidacy.  Further, Hefley said of Lamborn, “I feel that he ran the most sleazy, dishonest campaign I’ve seen in a long, long time, and I can not support it.”  Ah well.  Fawcett may still surprise come November, if he can capitalize on Lamborn's unpopularity.

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