As the six-man primary in the Republican-dominated 5th Congressional District heads into the final stretch, the alliances are becoming real head-scratchers.
Take a letter, addressed to “Republican Voter” and sent out by Will Perkins last month. Perkins is a retired Colorado Springs car dealer, and the folksy face behind Amendment 2, the anti-gay initiative that Colorado voters passed in 1992.
This year Perkins has emerged with a new group, Protecting Colorado Children which is pushing another anti-gay initiative designed to “prevent… the creation or recognition of same-sex civil unions.”
But the July, 2006 letter from Perkins pitches a far different message: Here are some of the better snippets, including his bolded comments.“It isn’t often you have five friends running for the same congressional seat, but that was my situation about four months ago,” Perkins opens. “I’ve talked to other friends who tell me a similar story. All five of the candidates are well known in the community. I thought they were all capable, so I chose not to take a position until after the primary election. That all began to change March 27th.”
That day, Perkins says he received a call from Major General Bentley Rayburn, informing him of his decision to retire from the Air Force. “I said, Have you lost your mind? You are just getting ready to get your third star!’“
Over the course of the next week, Perkins says he tried to convince his friend Rayburn not to run, that it was too late, he couldn’t win. “Bentley listened patiently while I expounded on my vast knowledge of politics,” Perkins writes. “When I had run out of steam, Bentley went on to explain that he was at a point in his career where the issues he cared most about were not things he could influence while in uniform.“
So Perkins became convinced, and has thrown his support behind a little-known just-retired Air Force general who just recently returned to Colorado Springs. (Bentley does have ties to the community; his Uncle Jim Rayburn is the founder of the Colorado Springs-based Young Life Christian ministry for teenagers.
“Bentley Rayburn is a man we can all be proud of, but most importantly he is the leader our country needs in Congress during this critical time of war. Let us not let personal loyalties get in front of our loyalty to our country. I just about did! This is no reflection on the other candidates. Their experiences are very valid; but do not specifically fit them for this hour in our Nation’s history; Bentley Rayburn does! Let’s send him to Congress.
May God continue to bless America,”
Now, a bit more on Perkins. It was largely due to his grandfatherly-like demeanor as spokesman for Colorado for Family Values that led to the passage of Amendment 2, which sought to prohibit gays and lesbians from seeking protected class status. (It has since been declared unconstitutional).
Perkins went on to run for Mayor of Colorado Springs in 1999, but was creamed by then-incumbent Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace.
In a phone message this week, Perkins declined to clarify his loyalty to Bentley, saying he preferred to let the letter “stand on its own.”
“There isn’t anything I can tell you about the letter that isn’t in the letter,” Perkins said, “so I think it best let it stand on its own rather than me trying to give you any other insight into it. I appreciate your calling and will see you some other time.”
And in case you were wondering, Perkins’ pro-Rayburn letter of last month didn’t mention a thing about gays or lesbians.