In the highly competitive Republican race for the top challenger against Michael Bennet for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat, the campaign of Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha is gaining momentum with a bombardment of media attention.
And in a season of populism, comparisons are already being drawn between Blaha and GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, with the theme of blunt talk and a no-nonsense, anti-Washington D.C. attitude. Blaha, one of five candidates in the Republican primary later this month, has already made a “product guarantee” to step down after one term if the U.S. Senate doesn’t succeed in addressing his prime issues of concern: reducing the deficit, reforming the tax code and strengthening the borders by putting a significant clamp on illegal immigration.
“I am not one of these politicians who runs for office and wants to stay in Washington,” said Blaha, during an interview last week with The Mountain Jackpot, as part of an extended visit through every county in Colorado, including Teller. “This type of guarantee is unprecedented in Washington D.C. But that is the type of person I am. If you ask me a question, you’ll get an answer.”
But for many local Republican leaders, Blaha is endorsing a hopeless crusade to take on well-funded and experienced politicians, with little chance of victory and the prospects of just blowing considerable smoke. In 2012, Blaha ran an aggressive campaign for Congress against incumbent Doug Lamborn, but got clobbered by more than 20 percentage points.
“That was a tough loss, but I learned a lot in the process,” admitted Blaha in describing his earlier primary election defeat. “It was like having a root canal without nova cane.”
He contends, though, that losses like that have helped to redefine him as a person.
This time, Blaha has sought more nationally known consultants and promotional expertise and has run an extremely aggressive advertising campaign. His spots have referred to Bennet as a “bozo” and he uses bobble heads to portray politicians. He also isn’t afraid to take strong aim at his opponents during debates. His blunt comments and campaign style have given him a distinct voice in a crowded field.
Blaha admits he supports Trump, praising his non-conventional approach and refusal to adopt the business as usual Washington D.C. attitude
“Who would have thought Trump and (Texas Senator Ted) Cruz and (Vermont Senator) Bernie Sanders would have done as well as they have, and people like (former Florida Governor) Jeb Bush wouldn’t have even won a single state primary? It’s the year of the outsider.”
Blah contends that he is a good fit for this new era of populism. “Our campaign is doing very well. We are reaching out to everyone, even stations like MNSBC,” he added.
Blaha and the Issues
As for his stand on some key issues, the candidate says he is 100 percent behind the fight to uphold Second Amendment gun ownership rights. “Our Second Amendment rights are under attack every day,” he explained.
Talk like that definitely resonates well with Teller Republicans, known for their pro-gun views. On a per capita basis, Teller is rated as one of the top counties in the country for gun ownership. Blaha cites his strong life-long support, along with his entire family. for the National Rifle Association. He penned recent newspaper editorials that compare gun rights to a vital and important way women can defend themselves against potential assailants and intruders. “Guns are the big equalizer,” he said.
Blaha says he can also relate to rural residents, noting that he grew up in a small town in Iowa. The candidate attended the University of Iowa on a football scholarship. He then started a career in plant management at Ford Motor Company in the Midwest and worked his way up through management at several big companies. Eventually, he came to Colorado and formed a consulting company, specializing in doing leadership seminars for companies and their employees. He also has done work in real estate.
In campaigning for the Republican senate nomination, Blaha said he has noticed a huge divide between large Front Range cities, like Denver, and small communities across the state. “I have visited every county in this state during the campaign and have talked to people everywhere, even if it’s at a gas station,” he explained.
Of all the issues facing rural Colorado, Blaha said he is most concerned about water management and simplifying the current regulations. “Water is the single biggest issue I have noticed in traveling across Colorado. We need an overall water management plan,” said the candidate, who contends the current policies and how rural interests are protected are way too complicated.
The candidate staunchly opposes considerable government regulations. “People are tired of all this government intrusion. They are angry.” He says this extends to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Land Management and federal mining regulators.
“Our mining industry has been under attack for the last 10 years,” related Blaha.
As for Teller’s push for better communication services and broadband Internet, he sympathizes with Teller’s struggle and supports the pursuit of grants. However, the Colorado Springs businessman doesn’t like the idea of possibly “picking winners and losers” by the government. Blaha hasn’t taken a position on whether the federal government should get more involved in helping local communities combat inadequate telecommunications services. But he admits he has heard many horror stories about telecommunication services and even the lack of basic services during the campaign.
This idea of keeping the feds out of our business even extends to a touchy subject that has sparked much debate among Republican office-holders: marijuana enforcement.
Blaha says he doesn’t want to get involved in cracking down on retail marijuana businesses. “I am a big supporter of the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (dealing with states’ rights). The people of Colorado made a choice. It is not a choice I agreed with, but they have made that choice,” he said.
As a result, he doesn’t believe the federal government should try to overturn Amendment 64, the pro-recreational marijuana initiative, or tighten up cannabis-related enforcement.
He contends marijuana enforcement is now in the state arena, and that’s where it belongs.
Even with a big lineup for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat, Blaha contends he is the best candidate to unseat Bennet. He believes his stand on most issues will allow Colorado to win this coveted position that could determine whether the Republicans maintain control of the U.S. Senate. “Colorado is a purple state. Michael Bennet can definitely be beaten and I am the best person to do that,” he concluded.