Will 2014 Be Rep. Doug Lamborn’s Final Year in Congress?

Doug Lamborn (R).

Doug Lamborn (R).

As Megan Schrader of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

Retired Gen. Irv Halter, Democratic candidate for the 5th Congressional District, has released his latest campaign figures ahead of the deadline, and the show that he's brought in just over $165,000 in the first quarter of 2014…

[Campaign Manager Ethan] Susseles said – to date – the campaign has raised almost three-times more than any of Lamborn's other general election challengers. Halter has raised a total of almost $341,000.

Halter will have $217,432 cash on hand when the official campaign finance report is filed with the Federal Election Commission on April 15, Susseles said.

Fundraising reports in the Republican-dominated CD-5 are starting to become hotly-anticipated, particularly with Republican Bentley Rayburn now challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn for the GOP nomination. Lamborn ended 2013 with just slightly more cash-on-hand than Democrat Irv Halter, but he had to scramble to get there when you consider that his campaign had a measly $28,000 in the bank after Q2 (2013).

But why might Lamborn lose in 2014 when he has fought off challenges before? It's simple: there's too many hurdles to overcome this year.

Retired military officers have eye on CO-5

Irv Halter (D-left) and Bentley Rayburn (R-right).

Lamborn has always had to fight off challenges since he was first elected in a six-way Republican Primary in 2006, but this year he faces perhaps the greatest threat to his re-election efforts. The Republican-led Congress is the most-disliked institution in the history of polling, and Lamborn has certainly earned his place in the lowest tier of the lowest tier when it comes to effectiveness. Lamborn is also hampered by being absolutely terrible at raising money, and now he's going to have to work extra hard to bring cash in the door with an unexpected June Primary just around the corner (assuming Rayburn makes threshold at the CD-5 Republican assembly). 

There's absolutely no arguing that CD-5 is a solid Republican district that the GOP should never lose (at least until the next redistricting in 2021). If a Democrat were to win in a General Election, the seat would almost certainly fall back into Republican hands in 2016. But we think there is a real chance that Lamborn could lose his seat in 2014. Lamborn has been more dysfunctional than usual in the last 12 months, and his support for shutting down the government last fall will definitely hurt him at the polls (in both June and November). With such a large military presence, no Congressional district in Colorado relies as much on the federal government for employment — and negative ads hitting Lamborn for siding with Party over District will be devastating.

Lamborn has dealt with Rayburn as a Primary foe in both 2006 and 2008, but there were always other candidates to split voters. This year Rayburn will face Lamborn mano-a-mano, and that scares Lamborn for two reasons: (1) Lamborn would probably have lost a 2008 Primary if either Rayburn or Jeff Crank had dropped out of the running, so there is a precedent for concern, and (2) the very fact that Rayburn could enter the race just two weeks before the CD-5 assembly is evidence of how little love there is for Lamborn among even Republican caucus-goers. In any other Congressional district in Colorado, it would be ludicrous to think that someone could pose a serious challenge to an incumbent by entering the field so late in the game; that this is even possible in CD-5 speaks volumes about Lamborn's approval in the district.

For Lamborn to survive a June Primary against Rayburn, it is going to cost him every cent in his "warchest" to get there. Rayburn will likely hit Lamborn hard over his general incompetence, and his military background will give more heft to criticism of Lamborn's role in the government shutdown.

Should he survive a GOP Primary, Lamborn will have little time to refill his campaign coffers before he needs to go back on the air for the General Election. With donors committed to so many other key races around the country (including CD-6 here in Colorado), Lamborn might have trouble convincing people to give him more money for a seat that should never be in danger. Republicans don't want to lose any seat in the House, but they know that winning back CD-5 would be fairly easy in 2016, so the big-picture concern is minimal (this is different in, say, CD-6, where the 2014 winner has a huge advantage in holding a swing seat).


Theoretically, Lamborn should be able to win re-election if he can hold off Rayburn — historically that has always been the case in CD-5. But there is also a growing feeling among Republicans who are sick of Lamborn's invisible Congressman act that it would be worth losing CD-5 for two years if it meant getting rid of Lamborn — and many of those same Republicans see Democrat Irv Halter as a very moderate candidate who would be a strong representative for the military community for a few years. Yes, Lamborn has defeated retired military officers before, but he's never had an opponent with a resume as impressive as Halter's: a retired fighter pilot and Major General in the Air Force, Halter also served as Vice Superintedent of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs before becoming Vice Director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs (managing global military operations). Halter has also shown a strong command of politics, with a strong fundraising performance right out of the gate.

Before you dismiss the idea that Lamborn may be in trouble, such a circumstance would not be entirely out of the ordinary in Colorado. In 2008, Democrat Betsy Markey defeated longtime incumbent Rep. Marilyn Musgrave — another volatile elected official that Republicans had grown tired of supporting in a traditionally-safe CD-4. Markey was not able to hold the seat in 2010, when she lost her re-election bid to Republican Cory Gardner.

"Can Democrats win in CD-5?" We'd argue that this is the wrong question to ask.

"Can a Democrat beat Doug Lamborn in 2014?" It's growing more possible by the day.



19 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    Lamborn could well lose, but if he does, it's probably to Rayburn.  The Ds have a really good candidate but they are hopelessly outnumbered.   But I always felt either Crank or Rayburn could have beaten Lamborn head to head, but not if they split the fiscal conservative, strong military Republican vote while Lamborn owned the Focus on the Family minority wing of the GOP.  

  2. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    I've always believed that Lamborn is a disgrace to everyone in the state regardless of party. We only had two years of Betsy Markey, I'd take two years of Irv Halter in a minute.

  3. Miss Jane says:

    I certainly hope so.  I am of the understanding from more than one source that the military guys here and in DC are not happy with him. He doesn't actully help with military preparedness and depends on jingoism.  It's the personhood people, holy rollers and the gun fanatics who have kept him in office.

  4. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    I've always had great contacts in the military, having once serve on the staff at West Point as editor of the Pointer View back in the Vietnam unpleasantness.   Lamborn simply doesn't speak our language.   He doesn't understand the issues.  Sure, he gives lip service to a strong military, but he's just out of his depth and no good at building the coalitions you need.   Udall, for example, was vital in bringing the Combat Aviation Brigade to Fort Carson.  Halter or Rayburn, in contrast, would be a fantastic asset.   Even more so with Halter, since he'd give the military a strong voice in the Democratic Party, but I've talked to Rayburn and he really knows the cutting edge stuff.  In contrast, ask Lamborn what he thinks of the new Strykker Brigade at Carson and he'd probably say we should fire all those damn unionized workers who dare to Strykke the militarywink  

    • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

      Didn't Lamebrain vote for that ridiculous plane the military didn't want? I'm not proud. I'll take Rayburn, Halter, even the aptly named Crank over the Worthless Obstuction for two years

  5. ajb says:

    I dunno…

    …his support for shutting down the government last fall will definitely hurt him at the polls (in both June and November). With such a large military presence, no Congressional district in Colorado relies as much on the federal government for employment…

    How does one stay Republican without embracing cognitive dissonance?

    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      Most Republicans don't understand the military is part of the government.   They think Blackwater runs it.

      • BlueCatBlueCat says:

        I've always wondered how they reconcile hate the government, shrink the government with love the military, grow the military.

        • Miss Jane says:

          It really is the only they like about government, aside from their Medicare, and the younger ones want to privatize that.  They are a lot like the John Birch Society.  The enemy is everywhere, even hiding in granny's closet.

          I'm back!  I was kicked off the internet by some odd child thing or other.  My son just called and suggested I restart the "router".  As far as I am concerned the internet is like magic, definitely sci fi.  Thank you Isaac Asimov and the senators with Al Gore.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      Michael Bowman? R36? davebarnes? Other sane Republicans? Cognitive dissonance – To embrace or not to embrace it…?

  6. The realistThe realist says:

    One of my favorites (and if this doesn't work, I'll keep trying!):

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  7. Urban Snowshoer says:

    As much as I'd like to see Halter win, that district seems like a lost cause for Democrats. I suppose it's worth challenging, under the logic of the 50 state strategy, to force Lamborn to defend his record.

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