CO-5 and El Paso County

12:45 a.m.
Republican Party HQ

Mr. Lamborn is going to Washington. Is he ready for Stephen Colbert?

“I don’t think anyone’s ever ready for Colbert,” said Lamborn, one of the last remaining partygoers in a cavernous space at the Republican Party headquarters at Mr. Biggs Family Fun Center in north-central Colorado Springs.

Mr. Biggs has got it all – laser tag, Go-Karts and Battle Tech – and the unlikely political party headquarters was the site where Lamborn?s primary rival, Jeff Crank, held a victory party that rang hollow. But Mr. Biggs must like Mr. Lamborn a  whole lot better ’cause he’s giving him a magic carpet ride all the way to Washington.

Thrilled and excited are the words of the night for Lamborn, who pulled out a 60-39 win (there were some write-in votes) in what became an ugly battle with a Democrat in what has traditionally been a Republican stronghold. Throughout the campaign the polling numbers vacillated wildly – a Denver Post poll last month had Lamborn and Democrat Jay Fawcett in a dead heat; other factors, including retiring Rep. Joel Hefley’s refusal to endorse Lamborn amid admonishments that he ran a “sleazy” and “dishonest” campaign, piqued interest and generated money from the DCCC for Fawcett – and from the national  Club for Growth for Lamborn.“I’ll say this,” Lamborn said, “if you stick to the issues and not make it personal, voters will respond.”

And then he underscored his constant refrain throughout the campaign: “I’m honored at this trust that has been placed upon me and I’ll do my best to fulfill that trust and stand for Ronald Reagan’s values.”

Of course, Lamborn did get personal during his first debate with Fawcett, at one point telling an audience member to “keep your mouth shut.”

Looking forward to the Colbert interview with delicious anticipation…

10:44 p.m.
It’s all over for Republicans Ed Jones and Kyle Fisk — Ted Haggard’s junior pastor who tried to take out Michael Merrifield.

“I’m not surprised I won, but I was a little surprised about the margin,” Merrifield said after the final numbers came in a few minutes ago. The third-term Democrat was shooting for at least 60 percent of the vote. He got it.

10:22 p.m.

Holy torpedo. I had forgotten how may Democrats actually live in El Paso County — actually more, numberwise, than live in Boulder County. And in this Republican stronghold, tonight is shaping up to belong to Democrats John Morse and Michael Merrifield.

While the Fawcett campaign is reeling (97 percent of the precincts are reporting, and it’s currently a 60-40 losing proposition for Fawcett), things are hopping at Phantom Canyon, a restaurant a few blocks north of the Warehouse restaurant, where the rest of the Democrats are gathered.

Morse, who’s held onto to an impressive lead over Republican incumbent Ed Jones all night, is getting ready for a TV interview to talk about his current 60-40 lead. You may remember Morse: he is the guy the Trailhead Group mercilessly attacked in radio ads and mailers, trying to convince people that he was an incompetent police chief.

The local District Attorney is still investigating whether Trailhead operatives violated a criminal statute with their activities attacking Morse on behalf of Jones, who stayed hidden for much of the campaign — so much so that even Republican operatives surmised that Jones was kickin? back, expecting Trailhead to do all his work for him.

But Morse isn’t gloating over that tonight. Instead he is talking about the secret to his probable success.

“We walked and we walked and we walked and talked to people, and asked them what was important rather than telling them what was important,”Morse said. He vowed to stay out of peoples? bedrooms, and focus on security, freedom, opportunity.

And he’s wearing a snappy tie with a very cool we-the-people motif.

9:05 p.m.
And with 9.3 percent reporting:
Incumbent Democrat Michael Merrifield – 61 percent

Republican Kyle Fisk – 39 percent

8:56 p.m.
Get this, from Senate District 11, albeit with 8.6 % reporting:

Democrat John P. Morse – 60 percent
Republican incumbent Ed Jones – 40 percent

8:44 p.m.
The Warehouse Restaurant
Downtown Colorado Springs

About 150 anxious people are milling about, intermingled with cheers as East Coast results started coming in, but not so happy when early and absentee voting results came in a few minutes ago showing Lamborn with 59 percent and Fawcett with 41 percent.

There’s a blue guy – head and arms all in blue in Fawcett garb – call him Mr. Blue State. Everyone is taking pictures of him and with him. Also on hand: local attorney James Barash, who has lived in Colorado Springs for 35 years: “I expect our boy Fawcett to win. He’s delightful, honest, smart competent and independent.”

Another attorney, Lloyd Kordick, grew up in Colorado Springs and has watched it grow from a conservative community, where Democrats were welcome, to “a place where the super religious Bible Belt dictates what happens.” Fawcett, he says, by far outdebated and outshone Lamborn.

“If Fawcett loses it?s a bad reflection on the entire county,” Kordick said.

Still early, but only remants of the spread remain by way of veggie plates and a rotini pasta hot dish. The food, I am told, was far better at Phantom Canyon, where the rest of the Democrats were hanging out — including BBQ chicken skewers!

7:12 p.m.
Fisticuffs nearly erupted at a polling place in House District 18 today after state Rep. Michael Merrifield got a phone call that his Republican challenger Kyle Fisk was inside a polling place instructing judges to throw out any “questionable” ballots.

“That’s not right; that’s illegal for him to be in the polling place,” says Merrifield, the only elected Democrat among El Paso County’s  13-member delegation.

Merrifield called his lawyer, and drove to the polling place, at 1st Presbyterian Church in downtown Colorado Springs. He says he parked his car across the street, and was reading a newspaper while waiting for his lawyer to show up.

Enter Bob Gardner, a lawyer, former county Republican chairman and himself a candidate for the House of Representatives – who happened to be at the polling place. Gardner complained that Merrifield was parked within 100 feet of the polls. The candidate has a “Michael Merrifield for State House of Representatives” bumper sticker on his car, and Gardner accused Merrifield of electioneering.

The upshot? Merrifield left, and filed a complaint with the county Clerk & Recorder, accusing Fisk of illegally being in a polling place. Gardner filed a complaint accusing Merrifield of electioneering. Merrifield says police told him that Fisk would be arrested if he entered the polling place again.

“I guess I must have the most persuasive bumper sticker in the state,” Merrifield said of  the complaint against him. “Just my name casts fear on the Republicans.”

Fisk could not immediately be reached for comment.

6:40 p.m.
El Paso County is not experiencing anything sort of the chaos that appears to be gripping Denver’s election. But Clerk & Recorder Bob Balink reports that final results will likely not be in until late – very late. Possibly 1 or 1:30 a.m.

Cara DeGette will be in El Paso County this evening checking on the race in CO-5 between Democrat Jay Fawcett and Republican Doug Lamborn.

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