Dean of the GOP delegation Lamborn settling into role

Rep. Doug Lamborn — now the dean of Colorado’s Republican congressional delegation — has settled comfortably into his new role, if the ramped up communications coming from his Washington headquarters are any indication.

Over the past couple of weeks, Lamborn, who just two years ago was a mere freshman congressman, has introduced a plan to give people a tax break to buy American-made cars, as well as hailed a new program for disabled Fort Carson soldiers, announced the hiring of a new legislative and press assistant and praised the influx of some $178 million in oil and gas revenues that will be coming to Colorado.

Lamborn’s auto bill, introduced Thursday, would, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette, “give consumers a tax deduction of $10,000 when they buy a new vehicle in which the assembly is finished at a U.S. plant. The deduction would be given in 2008, 2009 and 2010.”

Of the pilot program at Fort Carson, which is designed to streamline the claims process for disabled soldiers, Lamborn issued this statement:

“One of my highest priorities in Congress is to help our military men and women. Our greatest obligation as a nation is to those wounded men and women who have defended our freedoms. I had requested an expansion of the program based on its favorable review. I am pleased that the Department of Defense has agreed to introduce this pilot program to Fort Carson and look forward to continued improvements in the disability claims process.”

And when Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced that the Interior’s Minerals Management Service had distributed a record $2.59 billion to states from oil and gas revenues on federal lands, including $178 million to Colorado, Lamborn was equally pleased. In fact, in a prepared statement, the conservative congressman used the opportunity to “commend the Department of the Interior for laying the groundwork for responsible oil shale development.” He continued:

“This is wonderful news for the people of Colorado. It’s important to note that this record revenue was generated from limited energy production. Imagine what kind of revenue could come to us if Colorado were fully exploring and developing its oil and gas resources?

“I am a strong advocate for increased production because it not only helps lower energy costs for consumers, but it also brings in vital revenue to the state.”

Yes, it’s positively statesmanship stuff after an initially rocky road for Lamborn, who two years ago won a stunner of a six-way GOP primary to replace Joel Hefley, who retired after 20 years in Congress. The bitterness over the race — in which Lamborn’s supporters accused Jeff Crank and another Republican candidate, Lionel Rivera, of supporting taxes and the so-called homosexual agenda (fighting words in these conservative parts) — lingered.

Hefley, who supported Crank, refused to endorse Lamborn in the general election, calling Lamborn’s brand of politics “sleazy.” Crank, along with Bentley Rayburn, a retired Air Force general, tried, and failed, to defeat Lamborn in the primary this year.