Bad news for McCain in Colorado Springs, Times blogger finds

A New York Times blogger discovers the news is not good for John McCain in Colorado Springs, where a lifelong Republican on the city council says she is abandoning her party’s nominee to vote for Barack Obama this year. Further endangering McCain’s prospects in Colorado’s largest Republican stronghold, the pastor who replaced former GOP heavyweight Ted Haggard leading one of the city’s largest mega-churches is staying on the sidelines, urging his flock to vote “for any political party.”

Seattle-based Timothy Egan visited Colorado Springs, dubbed “the Vatican of evangelical political power,” after the second presidential debate and comes to one conclusion: “My friends: it’s not good for Senator McCain.”

President Bush held John Kerry to 32 percent of the vote in Colorado Springs 2004 but Democrats are confident Obama will reap 40 percent this year, enough to keep McCain from winning the state’s hotly contested nine electoral votes. Disenchantment with the McCain campaign, along with a surge of newly registered voters, are responsible, Egan reports.

“As a small business owner, it’s very hard to watch a lifetime of hard work and savings just wither away in the last two weeks,” said Jan Martin, a native of this more-than-mile-high city, and a lifelong Republican. “The debate on Tuesday night has, if anything, bolstered my opinion.”

So Jan Martin, who also serves on the city council, will cross party lines in less than a month and vote Barack Obama for president, she said. She’s not leaving the Republican party — she’s deserting the nominee.

This year, Egan finds, even in faith-based Colorado Springs, the economy trumps the McCain campaign’s best efforts to smear Obama as someone out of step with traditional American values. In fact, the right-wing values that propelled Bush to a second term are barely on the radar for one of the city’s leading evangelicals.

“The financial crisis is point number one,” said Pastor Brady Boyd, head of New Life Church, 250,000 square feet of concentrated Christianity. “These attacks against the candidates are just irrelevant right now. Why are you all attacking one another when we’re dying out here?” …

Pastor Brady Boyd is a different breed of evangelical. His political suggestions this year, delivered in a sermon on Sunday and repeated in our interview, were simple.

“The only advice I give is pray, fast and vote, and that can be for any political party,” he said.

This year, the church hasn’t even heard from the McCain campaign. “What’s happening to us is less allegiance to the Republican party, and more to our core principles,” he said.

Even though one of the city’s other leading evangelicals, Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, has recently reversed a pledge to never vote for McCain, Egan reports the “founder of what is essentially a political action committee for evangelicals” is hopelessly out of step this year.

Dobson’s Web site contains outdated-looking scare alerts with headlines like “American Airlines extends special benefits to homosexuals.”

Dobson is yesterday. Boyd is tomorrow, saying that the environment, the poor, and helping those in his church who’ve lost a job or a house are things that matter to his congregation.

Abortion? Homosexuals? Bill Ayers?

“To be focused on those things at a time when people are hurting would really be to the detriment of families,” said Boyd.

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Ernest Luning

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