Joel Hefley Steals the Show

For as long a anyone can remember, Colorado Springs has been a town of hardcore Republicans … God and country folks … More likely to elect deer than Democrats.

Naaayyyye, went the horse. That’ll all change this year when Representative Joel Hefley’s name won’t be on the ballot

OK, so the Oct. 23 CNN segment covering the battle in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District was just a little bit cheesy. It had shots of Republican Doug Lamborn earnestly telling a crowd, “Folks, I am a Ronald Reagan Republican” ? and warning that Democrats will surely make “the terrorists” think America is unreliable and weak. Or something like that.

It showed Democrat Jay Fawcett, saying “You want to talk about what it’s like to be in the Southwest Desert of Iraq with a rifle and a rucksack? I’ve been there.”

But the real star of the show was a cowboy hat-wearing Joel Hefley, for many years the unassuming gentleman from Colorado, once labeled one of the 10 most obscure members of Congress. Then, last year, Hefley displayed his true mettle, as the head of the House Ethics Committee, admonishing the powerful and feared House Speaker Tom “The Hammer” DeLay three times for engaging in improper practices. (Hefley was unceremoniously booted from the leadership post.)

Hefley is clearly continuing the theme, exiting the political stage with demands for high standards and uncompromising ethics. And just as clearly, Doug Lamborn does not make the grade. Hefley’s refusal to endorse or vote for Lamborn, for what Hefley has described as “sleazy” and “dishonest” politicking, has generated a political firestorm.

“If we keep rewarding people who run the dirty, attacking, dishonest campaigns, then you?re going to get more dirty, attacking, dishonest campaigning,” Hefley told CNN.

On the day of CNN’s shoot, Fawcett was greeting Rep. John Murtha, in Colorado Springs to stump for he fellow Democrat. Murtha’s position to pull American troops out of Iraq is a controversial one in this parts ? and one that even Fawcett disagrees with.

For his part, Lamborn told CNN that when it comes to Iraq, “I don’t have a plan.” However he did have plenty to say about Murtha: “I think bringing John Murtha into town is a disgraceful thing to do. And what message does this send to the terrorists? It tells the terrorists that if they’re only patient, if they only wait it out, America will show itself to be weak and unreliable and America will cut and run.”

Cut back to Hefley, nuzzling his horses. CNN informs us that  the congressman never intended to make waves, but his anti-Lamborn stance was not negotiable.

“I just took a stand on principal, that I’d like to do some little thing that would change the political atmosphere and it probably won’t, but what can I do That’s all I can do.

After which the CNN reporter, with great drama, closes the segment with a shot of Hefley in his cowboy duds, walking away from the camera: “At the end of the day, Congressman Hefley … Reagan Republican … the quiet crusader … the unlikeliest of rebels … is at peace.”

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Cara Degette

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