Congressman Lamborn Gains Legal Reprieve; Snags Spot On Ballot

Doug Lamborn talks with Dr. James Dobson during a rally Monday, June 11, 2012 at Colorado Springs Christian School in his quest to win the 5th Congressional District John Leyba, The Denver Post
Photo by… The Denver Post

~ by Rick Langenberg ~

Incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn received a major legal reprieve with several big court victories that enabled him to gain a spot on the ballot.

As a result, the June 24 GOP primary for the 5th Congressional District seat will feature five candidates.

However, much bad blood remains between Lamborn supporters and a group of voters and election specialists, who earlier won a big victory. The Colorado Supreme Court earlier decided that Lamborn should be excluded from the ballot since a hefty amount of his petition signatures came from circulators who weren’t Colorado residents, a violation of state law. A judge previously ruled that a bunch of his signatures should be tossed, a verdict that actually appeared to kill Lamborn’s status as a GOP candidate on the ballot. 

But in a key federal court verdict, a judge basically took the argument that when in doubt over a candidate’s legitimacy, let the voters decide as this could violate freedom of speech rights.

That was the stance taken by U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer. The judge granted Lamborn an injunction against the earlier Supreme Court ruling, agreeing with the congressman that the state law regarding residency requirements for petition circulators was unconstitutional.

“Petition circulation is core political speech because it involves interactive political communication concerning political change…First Amendment protection for this activity (collecting petition signatures) is at its zenith,” stated the judge.

Following this decision, Lamborn won another big fight when both the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver and the Colorado Supreme Court denied appeal efforts by a group of Republicans, and even representatives of one of Lamborn’s opponents, Owen Hill, to reverse the federal decision.

Plus, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Wayne Williams has maintained that Lamborn’s name will appear on the June primary ballot.

Both Lamborn supporters and critics of the recent decisions contend that the controversy regarding the incumbent’s validity as a primary candidate is over.

It is still unclear if the furor over his candidacy has tarnished Lamborn. In commenting on the recent federal ruling, a spokesman for the  incumbent congressman said, “Voters, not lawyers and judges, should decide the outcome of elections.”

That reality, though, could pose a challenge for Lamborn this time.

Unlike past primaries, Lamborn, who is seeking his seventh term in Congress, faces major competition. Besides state Senator Hill, the favorite at the Congressional District Assembly, the other competitors include El Paso County Commission President Darryl Glenn, former Green Mountain Falls Mayor Tyler Stevens and retired Texas judge Bill Rhea.

The winner of the Republican primary must run against Democrat Stephany Rose Spaulding.

However, no Democrat has ever won the 5th Congressional District seat, regarded as one of the safest GOP positions in the entire U.S. House of Representatives. The district is located in a GOP friendly area, encompassing Teller, El Paso, Fremont and Chaffee counties, along with part of Park.