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Eye on the Fifth

By Daniel Smith

Pretty soon you may need that proverbial program to keep the candidates straight in Colorado’s Fifth Congressional District.

When Colorado Central editor asked me to write this column, I wondered if there would be enough activity in the district race to keep thing interesting – obviously, he was prescient.

Another two candidates have thrown their hats into the ring, and what was always a solidly, if a bit boring, Republican near-certainty has developed into a pretty eclectic field of candidates lining up to oppose six-term incumbent Doug Lamborn.

The latest entry is Darryl Glenn, the GOP nominee who lost the U.S. Senate race against Michael Bennet last year.

He recently told party colleagues “I will be jumping into the Congressional District 5 race within a few weeks.”

The Denver Post noted that Glenn topped a five-candidate Republican field last year that included Robert Blaha, former state Rep. Jon Keyser, Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier and CSU Athletics Director Jack Graham, before losing by four points against Bennet.

The other notable recent possible Democratic challenger is Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding, an author and an associate professor of Women’s and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The Independent reported she was exploring waging a Democratic challenge to Lamborn.

[InContentAdTwo] Spaulding said she wants to engage residents of each of the counties in the district, noting CD5 isn’t just El Paso County, and said the incumbent has failed to represent all interests in the district, not just those who voted for him.

If she formally enters the race and wins, she could become the first Democrat, first black and first woman to represent the district.

Glenn, in his senatorial race, described himself as an “unapologetic Christian, constitutional conservative, pro-life, Second-Amendment-loving American.”

Colorado Politics website got a comment from Lamborn spokesman Jarred Rego after Lamborn returned from an overseas trip as a member of the House Armed Services Committee about Glenn’s announcement.

“The congressman is working on numerous policy amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act ahead of its expected passage this week. His focus is on policies that strengthen our national security needs and protect and grow our local military missions, not on the ambitions of local politicians,” he said.

According to Colorado Politics, previously announced GOP primary challenger, State Senator Owen Hill, raised $225,000 for his campaign in the second fundraising quarter – the most contributions for any Fifth District candidate since Lamborn earned a tough primary win in 2006.

Last year, Lamborn beat a primary challenger by better than two-to-one, then defeated Democrat Misty Plowright, taking more than 62 percent of the votes; but Plowright garnered a respectable nearly 31 percent, followed by Libertarian Mike McRedmond with just shy of seven percent and beloved late local political crusader Curtis Imrie, as a write-in.

In July 2013, former Major General Irv Halter, a pilot and combat veteran, left his career to run against Lamborn as a strong Democratic candidate in 2014. He didn’t win, but raised a hefty $830,000 – more than any Democrat ever in the district and garnered 105,000 votes – which made both parties sit up and take notice.

Though the district has been historically labeled “safe” for the GOP, recent political events and a changing demographics in Republican strongholds such as Colorado Springs could mean change is in the air – perhaps.

While the daily drama of the Trump Administration endlessly plays out amid the sword of Damocles-style deepening Russian election involvement investigation, local voters also have an ever-more-interesting plate of savory local and regional politics to chew on.