UPDATE: Democratic Secretary of State candidate Joe Neguse calls on Republican opponent El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams to return a campaign donation from Gordon Klingenschmitt:
Secretary of State candidate Wayne Williams' campaign finance reports show he accepted a campaign donation from Gordon Klingenschmitt, the Republican State House candidate who recently compared Congressman Jared Polis to a terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. Many prominent Republicans have denounced his controversial statements, including Colorado GOP Chairman, Ryan Call. Despite that, the El Paso County Republican Party, which Williams once chaired, is standing with Klingenschmitt.
In response, Joe Neguse's campaign manager Elisabeth Mabus released the following statement, "Colorado needs a Secretary of State who will stand up for all Coloradans. We call on Williams to return the money, publicly reject the hate filled speech and agenda of Gordon, and oppose his candidacy for the State House. A radical like Klingenschmitt has no place in our state legislature."
As Vic Vela at Colorado Community Media reports, Rep. Mark Waller, the outgoing Republican representative for Colorado House District 15 in Colorado Springs, has finally broken his silence about his nominated successor Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt. Ever since Klingenschmitt won the HD-15 primary and especially since his latest over-the-top attack on Democratic Rep. Jared Polis last weekend, we've been waiting eagerly to hear what Rep. Waller has to say about the man his party has chosen to succeed him.
Waller's message to HD-15? Hold your nose and vote for "Dr. Chaps."
"Democrats like Polis want to bankrupt Christians who refuse to worship and endorse his sodomy," [Klingenschmitt] wrote. "Next he'll join ISIS in beheading Christians, but not just in Syria, right here in America."
Waller said his "11-year-old son can identify that as a hateful speech."
"I think it was horribly inappropriate to say," Waller said. "It doesn't matter if he's a person running for state representative or a person on the street. I think it's terrible to say.
"Obviously, he does not speak for me or the Republican Party."
Waller hasn't endorsed Klingenschmitt, but he wouldn't go as far as saying that he should drop out of the race – as Klingenschmitt's opponent, Democrat Lois Fornander has.
"If you're not voting for him, you're voting for the Democrat and quite honestly legislative majorities matter," Waller said. [Pols emphasis] "But that puts (House District 15 voters) in a rock and a hard place in terms of who to vote for."
We'll give Waller credit for at least acknowledging what Klingenschmitt said is not appropriate. That's better than the chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party Jeffrey Hays, who flat-out told reporters that Klingenschmitt "is part of our team" and that he "represents a whole host of views the Republican Party will have." But the bottom line seems little different–"legislative majorities matter." There's nothing in this statement that will encourage "Chaps" to do something smart for his party (not to mention morally) like withdraw from this race, and alongside with Hays' explicit support, Mark Waller appears to be giving tacit clearance for the Republican faithful in HD-15 to vote for Gordon Klingenschmitt.
House District 15 is heavily Republican and Klingenschmitt is still favored to win, in spite of his recent comments.
Because this is a solidly Republican district, it has never been a serious component of Democratic House strategy–and if it were to fall to a Democrat this year due to Klingenschmitt's implosion, the GOP would almost certainly retake the seat in 2016. If anything, that makes it doubly strange that local Republicans are so reluctant to speak out against Klingenschmitt. Is it because Klingenschmitt could damage other Republicans on his way down, like friend and political associate Sen. Bernie Herpin? Or could it be that "Dr. Chaps'" extreme rhetoric just doesn't upset social conservatives all that much?
In terms of damage outside HD-15, the latter seems like the bigger problem.