The largest coalition of African Americans and Latinos in El Paso County is feeling snubbed by congressional GOP candidate Doug Lamborn‘s refusal to appear at its upcoming forum.
The event, set for this Thursday, Oct 26, has been scheduled for nearly two months. Joe Barrera, co-chair of the Colorado Springs Black/Latino Leadership Coalition, said the group, a bipartisan coalition, contacted both Lamborn and Democrat Jay Fawcett‘s campaigns shortly after the Aug. 7 primary. Fawcett immediately agreed to attend, Barrera said, and he has been trying to secure a promise from Lamborn since.
“We finally got a phone call from [Lamborn’s campaign manager Jon] Hotaling three weeks ago, and very politely invited him again,” Barrera said. “He said Lamborn was very busy and had so many commitments – he basically gave me the brush off.”Barrera says he approached the candidate personally a week ago Saturday, at another event sponsored by Action 22.
“I told him, ‘this could not help but be good for your campaign – you have to talk to the minority community.’ Doug was very polite and said they’d do their best to fit us in, and then we got an e-mail saying he wouldn’t make it.”
“We feel snubbed and we feel he should come and talk to Republicans and Democrats who are part of this group,” Barrera said. “Republicans ignore minorities, and Democrats tend to take us for granted.”
Lamborn is the third Republican who has reported “scheduling conflicts” that have prohibited them from attending the Black/Latino Coalition’s events this year. Last month state senate candidates Ed Jones and Dave Schultheis were no-shows at a legislative forum.
Jones, a conservative African American who is seeking reelection to a four-year term, has sponsored a failed proposal to abolish Affirmative Action in Colorado. His brother-in-law, Willie Breazell, is the co-chair of the Black/Latino Leadership Leadership Coalition, as well as a current board member of the city’s largest school district.
Schultheis is term-limited from his Colorado House of Representatives seat this year and is currently seeking the senate spot being vacated by Lamborn. Since his no-show at the Black/Latino Coalition event, Schultheis has been heaped with separate criticism over questions he sent on Oct. 4 to the Greeley Tribune immediately following a published report of an accident that claimed the lives of two teenagers and a baby whose surname was Bustillos.
Specifically, Schultheis posed the following questions to the newspaper:
“Was the driver properly licensed?
Was the vehicle properly registered, and insured?
Why aren’t these facts part of your published article?
Was this person the child of parents in the U.S illegally? Or was she here illegally?
I am extremely concerned with the dramatic rise in crime caused by those illegally in this country over the past 10 – 15 years or so.”
The Bustillos family, in the United States legally, has since, so far unsuccessfully, requested a formal apology from Schultheis. The state representative has been quoted saying he asked the question on behalf of a constituent – though Greeley is 150 miles away from his district.
Colorado Springs is the largest population base in the 5th Congressional District, which includes El Paso and six surrounding counties. Barrera estimates African Americans comprise between six to seven percent of the population; Hispanics comprise another 12 to 14 percent.
All three Republican candidates – Lamborn, Schultheis and Jones – also were no-shows at an NAACP/Black Chamber of Commerce-sponsored candidates’ forum last month.
“The Black/Latino Coalition does not want to be taken for granted by politicians, and we do not want to be ignored,” said Breazell. “We vote and we are a force in determining elections.”