It’s primary night in Congressional District 5

Freshman Rep. Doug Lamborn won this Republican stronghold in south-central Colorado in a squeaker of a six-way race two years ago, and Jeff Crank and Bentley Rayburn have returned for a grudge match. This year’s race has been all about style, as in, who has the leadership to best represent a district with five military installations. Keep reading for Tuesday night updates.

7:01 p.m.

Jeff Crank’s team is assembled at Cowboy’s in downtown Colorado Springs. Spokeswoman Amber Glus says that she’s hoping the results come in early, as has been promised, and Crank and his supporters can spend the rest of the evening celebrating a solid victory. The candidate has been phone banking “We’re feeling really optimistic,” Glus says. “For the last four days we’ve been making lots of phone calls and walking precincts, and person after person after person is saying, ‘We’re voting for Jeff’ or, “We’ve already voted for Jeff. This is the fun stuff, when we get the fruits of our labor.”

7:08 p.m.

Earlier today, Lamborn’s spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen weighed in — from Washington. The campaign, she said, is feeling really good about tonight’s outcome but, she adds, “you never take it for granted.” The congresswoman’s victory party is at Giuseppe’s Depot, also in downtown Colorado Springs (fun facts: Giuseppe’s is the second largest restaurant in Colorado, behind Casa Bonita. It’s also where John Anderson staged his “victory” party when he ran for this very same congressional seat two years ago – and came in fifth out of five. Lamborn, of course, spanked the former El Paso County sheriff in that race.

7:18 p.m.

Retired Air Force Gen. Bentley Rayburn is having his election night party at — get this — the DeLay Model Home at 6330 Farthing Drive. This sure isn’t the hottest new restaurant in town, but on the upside, it’s located in the tony 80906 Broadmoor neighborhood. Crossed phone connections with Rayburn’s campaign manager Mike Hesse today didn’t yield further clues, though in his voice message Hesse sounded upbeat about the race.

7:39 p.m.

Early and mail-in ballots have Lamborn leading in El Paso County, with the largest concentration of voters in the district. Here are the numbers so far:

Doug Lamborn – 15,971 votes, or 46.02%

Jeff Crank – 9,920 votes, or, 28.58%

Bentley Rayburn – 8,814 votes, of 25.40%

And, the Clerk and Recorder has also released numbers in another highly-watched race in the district:  Mark Waller is ahead of Douglas Bruce in Waller’s bid to unseat the cantankerous state representative: So far it’s 54.61% to 45.39%

8:04 p.m.

Lake County, to the west of El Paso County, shows these grand totals so far:

Lamborn65 votes

Crank – 51 votes

Rayburn – 40 votes

8:10 p.m.

As indicated, El Paso is by far the largest county in the 5th CD. The surrounding, mostly mountainous counties in the district include; Lake, Teller, Fremont and Chaffee. No word yet on results from those outlying areas, but click here for a district map:

8:13 p.m.

Crank has conceded.

With 15,971 votes, Lamborn is more than 6,000 votes ahead of Crank. Rayburn is still in third place.

8:35 p.m.

That was fast. Jeff Crank conceded his second quest for Congress rather quickly – that is, until you consider the numbers. El Paso County Clerk & Recorder Bob Balink reports that, as of late Friday evening, Republicans in El Paso County had returned 29,355 of some 48.955 mail-in ballots that had been requested – putting it on track for a banner year. Early voting, meanwhile, was dismal, with a total of 2,028 voters.

So, when the mail-in/absentee votes were posted, the writing was on the wall for Crank.

9 p.m.

The Rocky Mountain News is “calling” the race for Lamborn. Um. Super sweeping gesture.

9:11 p.m.

To his extreme credit, Crank is being magnanimous. “This is Doug’s night; he deserves that victory that he has worked hard for,” is his statement of the hour. Crank’s not saying too much about Rayburn tonight, but even a journalist can do the math:

El Paso County’s  voting numbers currently stand at Lamborn with 46 percent; Crank with 29 percent; and Rayburn at 26 percent (numbers rounded up). Crank’s and Rayburn’s numbers add up to 55 percent. That’s something like 9 points higher than what Lamborn’s got. So what would have happened if only one of them had challenged the incumbent Lamborn?

Just sayin’…

9:30 p.m.

No word from the Rayburn camp, but here is Jeff Crank’s complete dream-big statement, issued after his concession:

COLORADO SPRINGS (CO)—Jeff Crank, Republican Candidate for Congress in Colorado’s Fifth Congressional District, today congratulated incumbent Doug Lamborn for winning the Republican nomination.

“It is time for us to give a round of applause to Doug,” said Crank. “This is his night, and we need to unite behind his nomination.