It’s gotta be a sad day when the head of your own political party publicly doubts your brainpower. On Thursday the Preble’s jumping mouse was declared protected in Colorado and Congress passed a mining bill that requires the hardrock mining industry to pay royalties on minerals extracted from public lands. Conservationists cheered the news, but for Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn, the day was an outrage.
And to top it off, Colorado Republican Party-boss Dick Wadhams popped up to announce that the GOP is not only not endorsing Lamborn’s candidacy next year, but there are also those complaints about the congressman’s lack of “personal and intellectual strength.”
It’s not the first time that Wadhams has shown an unwillingness to potentially step in and put a stop to a primary challenge for Lamborn – in this case the freshman has two opponents so far. Several sources have described the GOP leader describing the situation as “unfinished business” in the south-central Colorado congressional district, one of the most conservative in the country.
In a story posted Thursday on Politico.com, Wadhams took matters beyond — way beyond — mere unfinished business. From the article:
Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams acknowledged that it was highly unusual for the state party not to endorse an incumbent, but said the circumstances of last year’s primary precluded him from getting involved.
“It’s one of those situations where the party is so divided…that there’s no advantage getting involved one way or another,” said Wadhams. “The most lethal charge against Doug is that he just doesn’t have the personal and intellectual strength to be the congressman for the Fifth District.”
Last year, Lamborn edged out five other Republican men to succeed retiring Rep. Joel Hefley, who was so disgusted with what he called Lamborn’s “sleazy” campaign that he refused to endorse him in the general election. During the primary, Lamborn supporters sent out mailers accusing two opponents of supporting taxes and the “radical homosexual agenda.” Next year, Jeff Crank, along with another unsuccessful ’06 candidate, Bentley Rayburn, are coming back for another round, hoping to bump off the incumbent.
Both Republican challengers have suggested Lamborn is a weak leader.
Meanwhile, Lamborn on Thursday responded with fury to the passage of the mining reform act, last updated in 1872 (Lamborn called it “a wrong-headed attempt to reduce, or simply shut down, the domestic mining industry by increasing taxes on a vital U.S. product. Colorado’s economy and our country’s national security are at stake.”)
And he blasted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to continue to list the Preble’s Mouse as a threatened species in Colorado (“a disappointing display of fealty to junk science,” Lamborn said.)
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org