In the latest dust-up over exactly which of his former Republican opponents has endorsed state Sen. Doug Lamborn’s congressional bid – and whom has not – Jeff Crank is calling on his onetime foe to “get his campaign manager under control.”
Crank, a former aide to retiring Rep. Joel Hefley, narrowly lost to Lamborn in a bitterly contested six-man primary race. Crank says he doesn’t appreciate how campaign manager Jon Hotaling has characterized the Republicans who are upset over the outcome of the election as “Hefley and a handful of Crank supporters.”
The criticism follows last Friday’s Colorado Confidential report detailing Hotaling’s claims that, besides Crank, the other four candidates in the primary have endorsed his boss. “All of them are endorsing Senator Lamborn,” Hotaling said in an interview last week.However, Hotaling had to backpedal when at least two of the Republicans – John Anderson and Duncan Bremer – denied they have even been contacted by the Lamborn campaign seeking their support. Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera has not returned phone calls seeking comment; the fifth candidate, Bentley Rayburn, appeared at Lamborn’s primary campaign party to congratulate the winner.
Yet Colorado Confidential has obtained an e-mail, pasted below, from the Washington D.C.-based fundraising arm of the Lamborn campaign, sent out on Aug. 21, claiming that all five of his primary opponents – including Crank – have endorsed Lamborn. (Bold is added.)
Sent: Monday, August 21, 2006 3:16 PM
Subject: RE: Lamborn won in CO
Just in case you hadn’t heard, Senator Doug Lamborn won the hotly
contested 5-way GOP Primary for Colorado’s 5th C.D.
It turned bitter especially the last weekend and turned into a squeaker.
But in the end, Senator Lamborn prevailed by about 900 votes.
Good news — all of Lamborn’s primary opponents have endorsed him for
the General Election, so the locals are already rallying around Senator
Lamborn’s candidacy going into the fall.
This is one of the most Republican districts in the nation and assuming
the campaign is adequately funded, Doug Lamborn will be the next
Congressman from CO-5.
However, he’s carrying over $100,000 in campaign debt from the primary
that we need to retire as quickly as possible so we can replenish our
warchest for the General. Does your PAC do debt retirement? Would you
be willing to make a primary contribution toward debt?
If not, could you make a general election contribution, now that he is
the nominee and the presumptive favorite?
Just email or call me if you can do something/anything.
When queried about the e-mail, Crank confirmed that the date it was sent – Aug. 21 – was more than a week before Lamborn had even reached out to him with a phone call inquiring whether the two could sit down and talk. And the call came after Rep. Hefley publicly walloped Lamborn’s campaign, calling it “sleazy” and “dishonest” and said he would not support his party’s candidate. During the primary, the Christian Coalition of Colorado, which is run by Hotaling’s brother Mark Hotaling, sent out mailers asserting that Crank, along with Mayor Rivera, support the “radical homosexual agenda.”
Colorado’s 5th Congressional District is heavily Republican, but has generated attention, most recently after the National Journal listed it last week as one of the 50 congressional races to watch in the country. Lamborn is being challenged by Democrat Jay Fawcett, a retired Air Force colonel.
Crank says he finally met with Lamborn last Friday, at a restaurant in northern Colorado Springs, to talk about the possibilities that he would offer his support. He expects to hear back from Lamborn on a couple of issues they discussed within a few days, he said.
“Whether, or not, I lend my name to someone’s campaign, I never take that lightly,” Crank said. “One of the things I did tell [Lamborn] was the little shots that Jon Hotaling is taking at me is going to have to stop. Unity goes both ways, and there is no reason for Jon taking these little shots. I am not saying anything negative in the media about Doug or Jon Hotaling.”
In addition to asserting that only Hefley and a handful of Crank supporters still carried lingering bitterness, Hotaling has been quoted in media reports accusing detractors of having “sour grapes.”
Last week, 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.”
And Brenda Anderson, the wife of the unsuccessful candidate, said Anderson has also not endorsed Lamborn.
“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,” she said.
On Monday, Hotaling explained that he had assumed that Lamborn’s former opponents were supporting him. And, he said, Stephen Goodrick, who was the author of the e-mail from Lamborn’s D.C fundraising group, the Rainmakers Organization, had assumed the same thing.
“Its our assumption that Republicans get behind Republicans,” Hotaling said. “We will still try to court their support, and we’ll do our best to bring together those who did not win in the primary, to get behind the duly elected Republican.”