The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews offers a revealing look at the backstory behind what appears to be a serious effort to do away with Colorado’s least inspiring member of Congress–Rep. Doug Lamborn, who has plodded along as conservative Colorado Springs’ undistinguished representative for over a decade mostly by dividing his opposition into manageable factions:
If U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn loses his seat in Congress because of a courtroom fight, the Colorado Springs lawmaker can point a finger at a few supporters of Republican rival Owen Hill…
Hill, a state senator who worked with [attorney Michael] Francisco in 2016 to challenge rules against “ballot selfies,” took a similar tact.
Asked whether he had a connection to the lawsuit, Hill said, “I’m not touching anything” to do with it.
Interest in these players has spiked in the aftermath of Monday’s major decision by the Colorado Supreme Court that found Lamborn broke the rules when he tried to qualify for the June 26 primary.
Matthews explains a number of pertinent facts in the story of Lamborn’s imperiled re-election. Yes, there are individuals connected to the lawsuit challenging Lamborn’s petitions who support Lamborn’s primary challenger Sen. Owen Hill. But more importantly, Matthews explains the longer history of Lamborn’s perennially dicey re-election in his safe Republican district as lingering bad blood among fellow Republicans combines with Lamborn’s uninspiring small-ball record in Congress. Lamborn’s record contains more many more embarrassments than highlights, and Lamborn’s automaton partisan voting has not been enough to shield him from criticism that he’s just not a good leader in a district that would support charismatic conservative leadership.
As a result, Lamborn has had to fight hard in Republican primaries in most elections since 2006, surviving more than once only because opponents split their votes between multiple primary challengers. Although Lamborn’s seat is safe for the GOP, Lamborn has been the member of Colorado’s delegation most personally vulnerable in every election year.
So, there’s that. Combine that weakness with the continuing scandal over petition signature gathering in Colorado, which exploded in 2016 with the flameout of Jon Keyser’s Senate campaign and has safe to say has not been resolved despite being addressed legislatively in 2017, and what you have here is a perfect storm lining up to take out an incumbent member of Congress. When gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton requested that his petitions collected by the same contractor as Lamborn’s be invalidated due to fraud, Stapleton pulled the rug out from under the Lamborn’s re-election campaign. Nobody forced Lamborn to ditch the caucus process and petition on to the ballot–he did that because he knew from experience the caucuses wouldn’t go well.
In short, Colorado has a petition problem. But in addition, Colorado Springs has a Doug Lamborn problem, and the two storylines are distinct even as they intertwine to make Lamborn’s re-election suddenly less likely. That the ballot in Colorado can be accessed via fraud as a substitute for popular support allows weak politicians like Doug Lamborn to thrive to the detriment of everyone.
Don’t weep for Doug Lamborn. From either angle, his is a bed long in the making.