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Eye on the Fifth

By Daniel Smith

The political season usually gets in gear in March of election years with local caucuses, district and state assemblies as well as primary balloting to determine who gets on the November election ballot.

In the Fifth Congressional District, thus far there are three Democrats and three Republicans lined up to challenge Republican incumbent Doug Lamborn. More candidates are possible before the March 20 filing deadline.

The Democrats include Stephanie Rose Spaulding, a Colorado College professor and pastor; Betty Field, a former non-profit director and local activist; and Lori Furstenberg, a recent candidate who is a retail store owner. All are relative political newcomers and residents of Colorado Springs, seat of the lion’s share of district influence because of its population size.

The Republican challengers consist of more politically experienced candidates, including State Senator Owen Hill, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, Bill Rhea, a former Texas district judge and missionary, and Lamborn, the ten-year incumbent.


Hill is considered a rising force in the GOP ranks while Glenn ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Senator Michael Bennet last election cycle.

Rhea describes himself as the “distinctly centrist” Republican candidate for the congressional race.

Lamborn is a hard-core Republican in a majority GOP district that is considered “safe” in some political assessments, but he has faced primary challengers often before, and even criticism from within his own party ranks.

Lamborn stood in opposition to the creation of Browns Canyon National Monument, stating at the time of the debate over the decade-long local effort to preserve the area that all interests, including extractive industries and ranchers, had not been fully represented.

His website carries statements of support for the recent Trump Administration rulings designed to drastically cut back Obama Administration monument designations, including Bears Ears in New Mexico.

“I support the President’s decision,” he said. “This rolls back harmful overreach by the previous administration. Instead of using the law to protect antiquities, it’s been wrongfully used to restrict development. It’s also made it more difficult to take care of our national lands.”

Whether the controversy and negative public reactions over shrinking or eliminating designated monuments has had an influence on the incumbent is an unknown (some experts say it remains a legal question whether a standing president can undo such designations by a previous president).

However, Lamborn recently sponsored legislation to add to the size of one other monument within the district, the Florissant Fossil Beds in Teller County, by some 280 acres over its current 5,992-acre size. A hearing on the proposal was held Feb. 6 by the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands.

A Teller County Commissioner said the addition would allow for critical wild land fire protection and hazardous fuel mitigation projects as well as providing a buffer from surrounding developed areas and more wildlife habitat.

We will look at the respective political stands of the District Five candidates in future issues of Colorado Central.

While the Secretary of State’s office and local county websites as well as political parties have more detailed information on procedures like caucuses or petitioning to get on the primary ballot, here are some of the important dates this political year:

Local Dates

March 5 – Check voter registration in case precinct was redrawn (registration deadline was Feb. 5).

March 6 – Democratic and Republican Precinct Caucuses. (Check with respective county party on times and places.)

By March 31 – Last day to hold County Assemblies. (Check with respective county party on times and places.)

April 14 – State Assemblies, one each for the Colorado Democratic Party and the Colorado Republican Party.


January 16 – Petitions circulate to get on primary ballot.

March 20 – Petitions due by 5 p.m.

June 4 – First day primary ballots can be mailed out to voters.

June 26 – Day of primary. Vote in person or drop off ballot at designated location by 7 p.m. that day.?

Former print and broadcast network journalist Dan Smith is semi-retired to enjoy freelance writing and getting overcommitted in volunteer efforts in the community.