In the end, more people voted for Doug Lamborn than for Bob Beauprez in El Paso County. And Democrat Jay Fawcett, who captured national attention with his quixotic quest in a Republican stronghold, pulled in 40 percent of the vote.
So what happened? One theory is that Fawcett so mercilessly bludgeoned Lamborn that people ended up actually feeling sorry for the Republican. After retiring Rep. Joel Hefley called Lamborn’s primary campaign tactics “sleazy” and “dishonest,” and said he would never vote for him, Fawcett milked it for all it was worth. He publicly accused Lamborn of being a liar; that appearently simply didn’t work. Hefley can call Lamborn sleazy. Hefley can call Lamborn dishonest. But Fawcett can’t. It’s just too, well, unseemly, for GOP loyalists. The Republicans circled the wagon after all. Lamborn walked away with 60 percent – Beauprez pulled in 57 percent.Still on election night, El Paso County Democrats were cheering wildly, and not just over the national results pouring in. For the first time in anyone’s memory the county’s minority party actually elected two of its members to the state legislature. John Morse, who was the target of outrageous attack ads by the Trailhead Group (which is being investigated by the local DA) thoroughly trounced an incumbent Republican senator, Ed Jones. Securing an astounding 60 percent of the vote, Morse joins state Rep. Michael Merrifield – who easily batted away his Republican challenger Kyle Fisk.
Fisk, a pastor with a New Life Church affiliate, is of course the guy who touted an endorsement letter from Ted Haggard. Turns out the close connection didn’t pull much weight.
“A year ago most of you didn’t know me from Adam,” said Morse, addressing the crowd after the results were in on Tuesday night. A longtime law enforcement officer and past police chief in the city of Fountain, Morse stepped down from his job as the head of Silver Key Senior Services to run for office, on a platform that has focused on security, freedom and opportunity.
Morse said he was approached about taking on Jones, a conservative African-American and former county commissioner. Jones won the senate seat four years ago – even after he was exposed as a regular who hung out during county business hours in a sleazy bar, and was present while an undercover cocaine deal went down at said bar. In the senate, Jones, who is pro-school voucher, also introduced a bill to outlaw affirmative action, among other proposals – which clearly didn’t go over well in his Senate District 11, the most racially diverse district in El Paso County.
“I knew with absolute certainty that I needed to run and win, and help change the way politics is practiced in Colorado Springs,” Morse said on Tuesday. “Michael [Merrifield] started that process, but we needed to show the state that Michael is not an aberration.”
Before Merrifield was first elected to the state house four years ago, it had been a decade since a Democrat held any elected partisan office in Colorado Springs, including among its 13-member legislative delegation.
Countywide election results for El Paso County’s legislative seats in play are as follows:
Senate District 9
Republican Dave Schultheis– 68.68 percent
Democrat Keely Marrs – 31.32 percent
Senate District 11
Republican Ed Jones (incumbent) – 39.93 percent
Democrat John Morse – 60.07 percent
State House 14
Republican Kent Lambert – 68.79 percent
Democrat Karen Teja – 31.21 percent
State House 15
Republican Bill Cadman (incumbent) – 67.56 percent
Democrat Allison Hunter – 32.44 percent
State House 16
Republican incumbent Larry Liston– unopposed
State House 17
Republican Mark Cloer (incumbent) – 57.96 percent
Democrat Christine Varney – 42.04 percent
State House 18
Republican Kyle Fisk – 39.43 percent
Democrat Michael Merrifield (incumbent) – 60.57 percent
State House 19
Republican Marsha Looper – 66.07 percent
Democrat Ken Barela – 33.93 percent
State House 20
Republican Amy Stephens – 73.99 percent
Democrat Jan Hejmanek – 26.01 percent
State House 21
Republican Bob Gardner– 58.33 percent
Democrat Anna Lord – 41.67 percent
Cara DeGette is a longtime editor, columnist and writer at the Colorado Springs Independent, and other publications.