“Let’s put our shoulders to the metal and get with it!”
So proclaimed Bob Martinez, the Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, kicking off the statewide unity campaign to the November general election today in Colorado Springs.
Martinez was surrounded by, among others, gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, Attorney General hopeful John Suthers and the GOP’s choice for treasurer, Mark Hillman. They gathered at the gazebo outside the Pioneer’s Museum downtown – a popular stump-stop for candidates – and watched as five of the six Republican candidates in the sometimes rancorous, hotly contested 5th Congressional District race kissed, as it were, and made up.
State Sen. Doug Lamborn – who prides himself on having introduced more anti-abortion bills than anyone in Colorado history – won the primary in a last-minute upset over Jeff Crank last night. Retired Air Force General Bentley Rayburn finished a surprise third, with Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera, former sheriff John Anderson and former commissioner Duncan Bremer trailing.
This morning all but Anderson showed up to stand by Lamborn, who praised them all for helping make Colorado Springs the best city, El Paso the best county, Colorado the best state and the USA the best country, in the world.
The site for the GOP’s general election kick-off campaign, in one of the state’s conservative strongholds, was more than symbolic. Suthers, a former El Paso County district attorney, pointed out that Republicans cannot get elected in statewide races without heavy help from Colorado Springs.
Suthers was appointed last year by Gov. Bill Owens to fill out now-U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar’s Attorney General term, and noted that it’s been 36 years since a candidate from El Paso County has been elected to statewide office. “I hope to change that,” he said.
Suthers’ comment is an interesting one. Though he clearly didn’t mean to malign Colorado Springs Republicans, the public admission suggests that many potential candidates from these parts are far too right to be considered viable for statewide races. And, Suthers himself has gone through the filter of two degrees of separation from being considered merely an El Paso County Republican. Before being appointed to the AG’s office, he was Colorado’s appointed U.S. Attorney for several years before.
The last Colorado Springs Republican to hold a statewide office was former Gov. John Love who, in today’s political climate, would likely be a Democrat.
As for GOP Chairman Martinez’ comment, urging the need for Republicans all over the state to “put our shoulders to the metal and get with it!”, well, that left some in the crowd a bit confused.
“That sounds like it might hurt,” noted currently elected district attorney John Newsome.
And upon hearing of the remark, former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Feeley, a Jefferson County Democrat, quipped, “It’s sort of like being a rocket surgeon.”