On Election Night, Christy LeLait, executive director of Peak Dems, groaned at the thought of being represented in Congress for two more years by Doug Lamborn.
“We need someone who can actually represent us,” she told the Colorado Independent. “It has been eight years… Last time I saw him at a town hall was in 2010!”
This campaign season, the 5th District Republican congressman never debated his Democratic opponent, retired Air Force General Irv Halter. Lamborn said Halter “should have been more civil” if he expected Lamborn to participate in an official debate. “There was name-calling,” Lamborbn said.
Lamborn’s remarks come roughly four minutes into nearly 10 minutes of raw footage from an interview the congressman gave to Channel 5 News in Colorado Springs. It’s a remarkably fresh exchange, especially given the way candidates for office worked to control their image this election cycle — mainly by avoiding direct contact or by strictly prescribing interactions with the news media.
The interview came as Lamborn was making national headlines for telling a small group of “liberty voters” in a bar basement that he and other Republican members of Congress were encouraging military officers to resign to protest President Obama’s policies.
Lamborn didn’t address that issue with interviewer Adam Atchison, deferring instead to his communications director Jarred Rego. Lamborn’s eyes shifted between Atchison and Rego as they spoke about him. The exchange begins at the 5:10 mark in the video.
“You mentioned… that you had encouraged or at least had spoken to military leaders about the option maybe to resign if they didn’t agree with President Obama’s military policy. Why did you do that? What are your thoughts?” Atchison said.
“Adam, we’ve actually, we’re going ahead and just, we’ve gotten a written statement on that from me,” said Rego. “We’re treating all the TV stations equally on that one, so I can go ahead and send that one to you as soon as we get back to the office.”
Reporters across the state this year echoed the frustration vented on some level by LeLait. In clutches outside political rallies, in editorials — even on occasion with the candidates in live debate — they ruminated on the absurd way public figures running for public office were treating on-the-record questions about policy positions or voting records as something akin to an invasion of privacy, as though attending a campaign rally with a notebook marked you out as paparazzi.
Lamborn’s El Paso County district, brimming with military bases and defense contractor-businesses, is heavily conservative, but it includes large pockets of Democratic voters. Even though Lamborn defeated Halter by a wide margin, drawing 60 percent of the vote based mainly on party identification, he will remain a top electoral target. He has struggled to ward off primary challenges ever since 2007, when he first landed his seat in Congress.
With reporting by Rebecca Celli.