So the votes are in, and Doug Lamborn grabbed the brass ring, with a less-than-overwhelming 27 percent of the vote in the Republican primary for the 5th Congressional District.
Now here’s the question that only time will answer: if elected, will he be an effective, business-friendly congressman?
OK, we know he’ll be business-friendly. Like every one of his defeated rivals, he practically took a blood oath to defend business interests. But will he be effective? That remains to be seen.
An effective Republican congressman in the 5th Congressional District will understand that his job is to protect and advance the economic interests of his district, not preach to the true believers.
He’ll understand that his party will not always be the majority party, and build alliances across party lines.
He won’t seek the limelight; instead, he’ll work diligently and selflessly to solve problems and represent his constituents.
He’ll get himself appointed to a powerful committee (Armed Services, Ways and Means, etc.), and he’ll know what to do with such a position.
He’ll be a thoughtful, respected voice in the halls of Congress, able to work with other Colorado elected officials to advance statewide interests in a unified, non-partisan manner.
Joel Hefley was just such a congressman — and, given Joel’s native reticence, we may never know just how effective he was.
But look around at our thriving economy, at our robust military installations. Absent Hefley’s skilled representation, Fort Carson might have been closed years ago, leaving the Springs with nothing but empty parking lots littered with tumbleweeds.
Just before midnight on Tuesday, I ran into my old friend, the Seasoned Political Observer, glumly nursing a martini at a favorite downtown watering hole. So, I asked, what about Lamborn? Is he up to the job?
SPO stared at me in disbelief.
“Of course he’s not — in fact, he’s nuts. He actually believes all that loony stuff that they all had to spout during the campaign — the rest of ’em just pretended to be nuts. That’s probably why he won; he’s a genuine crazy, and (Jeff) Crank’s a fake crazy.”
SPO didn’t stop there in his assessment of the Republican nominee.
“He’ll get eaten alive in Washington. Why, all he did up in Denver was introduce bills that never passed. Did you see what [state Sen. Andy] MacElhany said about him: ‘those who know Doug Lamborn best don’t support him’? He’s just there to do what those crazies in the ‘Club for Growth’ tell him to do, and rail about abortion — whatever.”
And SPO wasn’t finished yet.
“Lemme tell you, we’re screwed for the next couple of years. But come 2008, you’ll see the party unite around Crank, and get rid of Lamborn. The big boys – (Bill) Hybl, the HBA (Housing and Building Association), the Realtors, the Chamber — they’re not gonna sit still for this.”
But, I asked, what about Jay Fawcett, the Democrat? Does he have a shot?
“He’s got a better shot than any Dem has ever had in the 5th, but it’s still not a very good shot. If he can peel off some real Republicans — like Gen. (Bentley) Rayburn or (John) Anderson — and if the Crank people sit on their hands and if Lamborn really screws up, then he might pull it off — but probably not.”
Any other thoughts, I asked, as SPO reflectively drained the last of the martini.
“I’ll tell you, Rivera’s the big loser here. Thirteen percent of the vote!!?? You know, the right-wing blogs were calling him ‘Che’ Rivera. Tomorrow morning, the sharks are gonna be circling — (Jerry) Heimlicher, (Larry) Small, (Scott) Hente; any one of ’em could beat him next April. He shoulda stayed out of the race. (Bob) Beauprez would have chosen him as his running mate, and even if he’d lost, it wouldn’t have been his fault. But now, he’s probably finished. Too bad — he’s a smart guy.”
And with that, SPO sauntered gracefully out of the bar and into the warm summer night.
Meanwhile, it looks as if feisty congressman John Salazar is no fan of Colorado Springs Utilities, and may not be an enthusiastic supporter of the Southern Delivery System — the Pueblo Reservoir pipeline project designed to provide Colorado Springs with the water we need for continued growth.
In March, Salazar suggested to the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District that water quality and quantity in the lower Arkansas basin should be studied in conjunction with the Bureau of Reclamation’s assessment of certain aspects of SDS.
Utilities didn’t object at the time, but three weeks ago water manager Bruce McCormick wrote a lawyerly letter to Harold Miskel of the SECWCD objecting to the study.
Such a study, claimed McCormick, amounts to “an authorization for the federal government to investigate and opine upon a matter of solely state concern.”
A furious Salazar replied that “Colorado Springs Utilities has insulted the intelligence of downstream communities for decades, but none worse than your letter …”
Now, it doesn’t take a sophisticated political analyst (or a Seasoned Political Observer) to figure out two simple facts.
If a powerful congressman who represents Pueblo wants to kill SDS, he can probably do it.
And if Salazar is going to kill it anyway, why are we still trying to move forward with a doomed plan?
I know, I know — the plan isn’t doomed, we’re on track, and, thanks to the leadership of our popular mayor, we expect that the Iraqi Army will take over the job of pacifying Pueblo within a few months … oops, wrong plan!
But who knows? Maybe, in the next Congress, our brilliant freshman congressman, Doug Lamborn/Jay Fawcett, will solve the problem … or is it Doug Fawcett and Jay Lamborn?
John Hazlehurst can be reached at John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com or 634-3223, ext. 241.