Hey Jeff Crank! Here’s Mud In Your Eye!

It only took 10 days.

That’s the time between Republican leader Greg Garcia’s warning that dishonesty and mud-slinging will not be tolerated in the 5th Congressional District, and a political gadfly named Dave Crater popping off a nasty salvo at candidate Jeff Crank.

On Friday, Crater posted an opinion piece in which he accused Crank of just wanting to be part of the status “In-Crowd” – and accused his supporters of lacking an understanding of conservative politics and being little more than liberals in drag. Crater also went further – much further – asserting that Crank, who recently announced his intent to challenge freshman Rep. Doug Lamborn, is a liar who really does support homosexuals and taxes. The piece, titled “Crank-Lamborn rematch bodes ill,” was posted at the website of former state Senate President John Andrews on Friday afternoon.

(Andrews, by the way, also recently bemoaned the prospect of a primary – which he termed “Diaper War IV” – in the 5th CD.)

“Darn, just when it appeared Colorado Republicans might halt their tantrums and grow up, the bitterness breaks out again,” Andrews opined in a post at his site, Backbone America. “Bob Schaffer is our consensus nominee for US Senate next year, so far so good.

“But now the brooding also-rans in last year’s 5th CD primary, Jeff Crank and perhaps also Bentley Rayburn, want another shot at freshman Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs. Why would this be, other than personal pique or stylistic distaste for the uncharismatic but solid-voting incumbent?”

Crater’s assertions were far more pointedly insulting – including accusing Crank, a former chamber of commerce vice president, of lying about being lied about.

Last year, the several weeks before the primary, the pro-Lamborn Christian Coalition of Colorado and the Club for Growth sent out mailers attacking Crank, along with yet another candidate running in the 6-man race, Lionel Rivera. One of the mailers depicted a wedding cake with two groomsmen standing on top, a clear suggestion that Crank supports gay marriage – which he decidedly does not. Despite calls to denounce the tactics, the Lamborn campaign refused to do so, claiming that they have no control over outside groups.

“What is so tedious about the `He lied about me’ accusation of Lamborn is that it is itself illicit, and plainly so,” Crater wrote last week. “Neither Mr. Lamborn, nor the Christian Coalition, nor the Club for Growth, nor anyone else who researched for themselves the relevant history, distorted Mr. Crank’s record. They publicized and documented Mr. Crank’s record, including his support while Vice President at the Chamber of Commerce for a City Council candidate who openly supported the homosexual movement, and Mr. Crank’s pragmatic opposition to a grassroots attempt to cut taxes.”

Crater could not be reached for comment, and it is unclear whether he is or will be working on Lamborn’s 2008 campaign (in his essay, Crater calls Lamborn a “stellar congressman” and “the hero of a man he was in 2006”).

Crater is a longtime aide to Republican state Sen. Dave Schultheis – himself a staunch and loyal supporter of Lamborn, whose senate shoes he filled when Lamborn went to Congress last year. In 2001, when Schultheis was a state legislator, Crater was removed from his paying position at the capitol after he testified, in violation of statehouse rules,  in favor of his boss’s so-called Dr. Laura bill that was designed to force couples to undergo a year of counseling before they could divorce. (The bill was so nicknamed because radio personality Dr. Laura Schlessinger had endorsed it.)

Crater later hit the headlines when he criticized then-Gov. Bill Owens as having “left the conservative team” because of the governor’s separation from his wife Francis. Crater has also blasted Pete Coors, the Republican’s choice for U.S. Senate in 2004, for not disavowing his beer company’s gay-friendly policies.

Crater is currently listed as the chairman and president of the Schultheis-supported Wilberforce Center for Colorado Statesmanship, which is devoted to conservative activism.

Ten days ago, Garcia, chairman of the El Paso County GOP, issued a strongly-worded letter to Republicans in the 5th CD – advising that dishonest campaigning will not be tolerated. It’s unclear what penalties, if any, can be administered to those who are determined in violation. On Friday, county GOP executive director Nathan Fisk said a related action policy is still being formulated. Fisk also said he had seen a copy of Crater’s posted opinion –

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