~ by Rick Langenberg ~
It wasn’t exactly a time for taking off the gloves and slugging it out, but more than 15 contenders for key state, national and local races took to a folksy, outdoor podium Saturday during the Teller Republican Party’s annual tent gathering in Woodland Park.
This is a summer barbecue, mini-social and serious forum during which key GOP candidates for the forthcoming races are introduced and even slightly grilled.
And any concern about the lack of clout among the Teller Republican Party was clearly put to rest. In fact, the race to success for Republican political hopefuls in 2018 clearly must pass through Teller County, based on the strong level of enthusiasm and participation for the state governor, treasurer and legislative/local contests with the candidates and their supporters
No political knock-out punches were landed in this friendly-get together. However, the familiar themes of lousy roads, fiscal challenges, Democratic villains, Obamacare blues, marijuana and drug woes, and of course, President Donald Trump and the Charlottesville protest controversy, commanded main stage attention.
Six of the seven candidates for governor – Lew Gaiter, Greg Lopez, Victor Mitchell, Doug Robinson, George Brauchler (a representative for Brauchler was there and not Brauchler) and Stephen Barlock – attended. This is a pivotal race, as the current governor, John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, can’t run again due to term limits.
The Republican governor candidates all offered a brief outline of their qualifications and various visions for the state. Most of them espoused the typical Republican themes of no tax increases and better fiscal accountability. But the deteriorating state of the state’s road system emerged as a key theme.
Teller County commissioner candidate Carl Andersen put a number of the gubernatorial candidates on the spot when he grilled the GOP hopefuls about the critical state of Hwy. 24. For the most part, the governor candidates danced around this issue and didn’t offer any specific solutions. They took more solid stances on the issue of recreational marijuana, outlining their concerns, but admitting this is now part of the law, so let’s work to make the system better.
Trump Press Conference Spars Debate
One of the more lively exchanges occurred with the heated race for U.S. House of Representatives District 5, a seat held currently by Doug Lamborn for the last five terms. But next year, Lamborn, who hasn’t officially announced his candidacy, faces competition from Darryl Glenn, who ran for U.S. Senate last year, and state legislator Owen Hill.
Glenn, who has been a popular figure among key local Republican leaders, electrified the crowd with sports-like comparisons to the state of the Republican Party. “We are like a good football team… but we are not winning the Super Bowl,” said Glenn. Moreover, he said there is no reason the party and its congressional leaders can’t get past the final goal line. “We need to elevate it (the District 5 Seat) to the next level.”
Glenn expressed the urgency of delivering a new health care bill to President Trump
He cited the current competition for this seat as a prime battle that would better the party, with the candidates’ “A-game” on full display.
However, the congressional candidate surprised a few rally-goers when he slightly criticized Trump for his comments on the Charlottesville controversy and especially during a contentious press conference last week, when the president battled the media. “It is about timing,” said the El Paso County commissioner. “You call evil, evil. You are responsible to bring people together.”
Glenn stated that he didn’t disagree with Trump’s actual comments, in criticizing both Neo-Nazi and white extremist groups, along with counter-protesters, but contended that this wasn’t the proper time for these statements. He believed Trump missed an opportunity to unite the country. “We want to turn the page and come together as a country,” said Glenn. He compared this to a situation he previously encountered as a commissioner with the Black Forest fires. “They wanted a sense of calm,” said Glenn.
His criticism of Trump, though, didn’t fare well with a heavily conservative, GOP crowd that heavily backs the current president. Glenn got little applause when he discussed the recent controversy in Virginia in relation to Trump’s comments.
His rival, Hill, agreed with local party chairman Erik Stone, in contending that the president spoke the truth in criticizing both sides. Hill described the actions as repugnant by both the Neo-Nazi groups and the counter-protesters. “There are two sides to the story,” he added
Hill, like Glenn, criticized party leaders for their failure to dismantle Obamacare. “We can replace Obamacare with liberty and freedom,” said Hill. Hill, who definitely won top awards for his casual dress attire, cited his love for Colorado and the state’s values. He expressed the importance of electing more normal citizens, who want to address the nation’s business and then move on with their regular jobs.
Congressman Lamborn, meanwhile, appeared to retreat from earlier criticism this week, following Trump’s press conference about the situation in Charlottesville. He joined other Republicans of Colorado’s congressional delegation in delivering tweets that questioned the president’s comments at last week’s press conference.
That’s not the position he took at Saturday’s rally.
“I want to help President Trump succeed,” said Lamborn, in backing he president’s agenda. He also criticized the actions of Senate Republican leaders. “They have to get with the program,” said Lamborn, in especially criticizing the vote taken by Arizona Senator John McCain in opposing the Republican effort to dismantle Obamacare and replace it with the Republican plan.
Three contenders for he state treasurer seat also spoke at the rally, as did several state legislators.
The forum also featured comments from the two candidates for the Teller County Commisioner District Two seat, Andersen and Bob Campbell. This seat is currently held by Dave Paul, who can’t run again due to term limits.
This could become one of the more notable county races next year.