What might have been a night of exciting Republican primary contests quickly spiraled into irrelevance, as the Waldo Canyon fire transmogrified into “a firestorm of epic proportions” destroying a yet unknown number of homes and businesses in northwest Colorado Springs.
Election officials couldn’t finish counting ballots by 7:15, when the County Clerk’s office on Garden of the Gods was evacuated.
Even with an abbreviated count, the eventual outcomes were not in doubt.
The four most closely watched Republican primary races ended in decisive walkaways by the victors.
Businessman Robert Blaha’s prolonged, expensive attempt to unseat incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn ended in failure, as Lamborn easily prevailed by a 60-40 margin, with 90 percent of the votes counted.
At a downtown gathering, Blaha thanked a subdued group of supporters.
“We gave this race everything we had,” he said, “Stay around, have some fun. We are delighted you’re all here, and we are excited about the future.”
County Commissioner Sallie Clark was nominated for a third term in office, defeating political novice Karen Magistrelli by the same 60-40 margin.
Clark brushed off congratulations as she stood silently before a TV screen, watching footage of the fire.
Magistrelli, in an email to supporters, told of a life on the verge of being forever altered, as her family awaited the fire’s approach.
“It seems somewhat insignificant now,” she wrote, “but the primary election will be decided today. I am pretty much out of the campaign activity as I have joined the family to evacuate the fire. Tonight our campaign team will have a party to rejoice together or cry together. I am very hopeful of winning. Our current commissioner has violated so many principles of ethics that God honors. Whatever the public sees, I know God sees.
Bob is still near home to pray protection and do more fire mitigation. Most of our family live together up there in line with the fire. We have five family homes there. The High Winds residence is also there in line with the fire. Believing God’s promises of protection, we have not followed the world’s pattern of trusting insurance for provision. We are trusting God and don’t have our homes insured.
Please do continue to pray. The fire is probably less than a mile from our home. It is heading that direction. But God is sufficient to stop it. I know that.”
In a hotly contested battle pitting one incumbent legislator against another, ,House Majority Leader Amy Stephens won the HD 19 primary over Marsha Looper by yet another 60-40 margin.
In something of an upset, 32 year-old Owen Hill won the nod for Senate District 10, He defeated legislative veteran Larry Liston, who received less than 40 percent of the vote. The race featured nastily personal attacks by both candidates. Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican,” was apparently inoperative.
In other primary races, Brian Davidson prevailed over Matt Arnold, gaining the GOP nomination for an at-large seat on the Colorado University Board of Regents in another 60-40 walloping, while Lois Landgraf led Albert Sweet in the race for state representative district 21 by the same margin.
Only one losing candidate broke the 40 percent mark during the evening. Auddie Cox, challenging incumbent County Commissioner Dennis Hisey, received a comparatively respectable 43 percent of votes cast.