A series of twists have resulted the unthinkable – Colorado’s 5th Congressional District being identified this week by the National Journal as one of the top 50 races in play in the country. The turn has left Democrat Jay Fawcett and his campaign turning cartwheels.
Republican Doug Lamborn’s campaign manager Jon Hotaling, however, doesn’t have much to say about the magazine’s claim. “I don’t know why the National Journal put it there; they gave no comments.”“Senator Lamborn enjoys widespread support in the district,” Hotaling maintains. “The only ones who see to be upset about the will of the people are Mr. Hefley and a handful of [Jeff Crank] supporters.”
The last reference is to retiring Congressman Joel Hefley, who has refused to endorse Lamborn, calling the primary battle against Crank, his former aide, and four others, “sleazy” and “dishonest.”
Hotaling maintains that, aside from Crank, whom he says Lamborn has “met” with, his other four primary opponents have all formally endorsed him. Bentley Rayburn? “Yes.” Lionel Rivera? “Yes.” Duncan Bremer? “I believe so.” John Anderson? “I believe so.”
Not so fast.
On Thursday, Duncan Bremer, an attorney and former El Paso County Commissioner, said: “I haven’t formally endorsed anyone – I haven’t been asked to. I’m apparently not a player anymore.”
During the campaign, Bremer drafted a pledge calling for honesty in campaigning. He, along with Crank, Anderson and Rayburn all attended a press conference announcing their commitment to the pledge. As for Hefley’s lambasting of Lamborn’s campaign, Bremer says, “Joel is entitled to his opinion.” Since the campaign, Bremer says, he has spent time with his family, rebuilding his law firm and, on Thursday, zeroed out his outstanding campaign debt.
And, Bremer suggests, bitterness among volunteers may be lingering.
“One would think that a large number of volunteers may not be enthusiastic about working on Doug’s campaign,” he said. “There’s not a ton of the usual Republican volunteers out there – maybe they’re spending more time on statewide races.”
Also on Thursday, Brenda Anderson, the wife of former El Paso County Sheriff Anderson, also weighed in on the claim that her husband has endorsed Lamborn. “No, he has not. He has not been asked to.”
“I think they’re stretching this as much as they can, but that doesn’t mean you can say you have been endorsed. John has not been asked to endorse Doug Lamborn and I do not believe he would endorse Doug Lamborn. There are too many fundamental differences and the campaign was just too nasty.”
While Anderson was not attacked with the same intensity directed at Rivera and Crank, Lamborn accused the former sheriff of being a liberal, and not conservative enough for the community, Brenda Anderson says.
Rivera, the mayor of Colorado Springs, could not immediately be reached to clarify his official position on the congressional race. Theresa Sauer, Rivera’s former campaign spokeswoman, said, “You know, I don’t know if he has [endorsed] or not.”
Rayburn also could not be reached, however he was the only Republican candidate to appear at the Lamborn campaign headquarters on primary election night to concede the race.
Click here to review a list of who has endorsed Lamborn – the page hasn’t been updated since before the primary election.
Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 2-1, has long been considered a slam-dunk for the GOP. However, the National Journal, combined with Hefley’s denouncement of his party’s exceedingly conservative candidate, has Democrat Fawcett’s campaign manager Wanda James “jumping up and down.”
“We’re getting donations online; we were on front page of DailyKos,” James says. “The momentum of the campaign is absolutely incredible. A year ago everyone was saying, ‘not a chance,’ and within a year we’re listed in the top 50 of 435 congressional races in the country. That’s incredible. That’s incredible.”
Both campaign managers report they are in the midst of securing television and radio buys headed into the final weeks of the campaign.