It was, for Democrat Jay Fawcett, Christmas in August.
The one Republican that Fawcett wanted to see grinning from ear to ear the day after Colorado’s 5th Congressional primary, was Doug Lamborn. And sure enough, Lamborn, considered by some the extremist conservative in a race dominated by conservative rhetoric, walked away with the win. As reported in this week’s Colorado Springs Independent, several high-profile Republican community leaders and elected officials in El Paso County have come out with public endorsements for Fawcett – considered near-heresy in this Republican stronghold. They include Marv Strait, who has declared “I am a Republican and I will be supporting Jay Fawcett.”
As the Independent reports:
Strait is not the only high-profile local Republican who has publicly come out for Fawcett, an Air Force Academy graduate and retired colonel who served in Desert Storm. Last week, the day after Doug Lamborn won a hotly contested six-way Republican primary, Colorado Springs City Councilman Scott Hente threw his support behind Fawcett. James Stewart, the president of the Black Chamber of Commerce, has also endorsed Fawcett, and this week [Colorado Springs City Councilman] Jerry Heimlicher indicated he will likely support the Democrat.
“It’s not as unusual as you would think,” says Hente. “We’re both retired Air Force Academy graduates, both Desert Storm veterans, we’re both Bronze Star recipients; Jay and I have a lot in common.”
Strait echoes his desire to have someone with military experience in Congress.
“I don’t think Lamborn has ever been in the military, and we’re a military town – it seems to me that so much of our economy depends on having someone understand the military.”
Over the next few days, Fawcett’s campaign expects to roll out an additional list of “Republicans for Fawcett.”
Wanda James, Fawcett’s campaign manager, says numerous Republicans have expressed a range of reasons for their support. Some, like Hente and Strait, cite Fawcett’s military expertise; others have expressed disgust over dirty tactics the Lamborn team employed during the primary.
“We have had had a number of phone calls from people calling wanting to meet with Jay, who are overwhelmingly supportive of Jay, feel he is the most competent and best guy in the race,” James says. “Yet it’s bizarre with some [elected officials], who are coming back with the fear they will be tarred and feathered and get backlash from the Republican Party or Republican voters.”
James says that she is stunned, and disheartened, by the pushback she has encountered among some who are afraid they will be targeted for retribution if they publicly back a Democrat.
“I think this is the most un-American thing in the world, if you’re afraid to say publicly who you support,” she says. “At the same time, we are hugely thankful for people who have offered to help.”