Election Watch: Race for the fifth congressional district

Posted at 3:26 PM, Jun 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-26 17:26:18-04

Incumbent Doug Lamborn will face a significant primary challenge in the race for Colorado’s Republican nomination for one of the safest Republican congressional districts in the state.

Lamborn is facing four candidates Tuesday night looking to unseat the six-term congressman: Darryl Glenn, Owen Hill, Bill Rhea and Tyler Stevens. Lamborn almost wasn’t even included on the ballot after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that some of the signatures gathered by the firm Kennedy Enterprises were gathered by people who weren’t Colorado residents. That put him below the 1,000 vote minimum needed to have his name on the ballot. 

However, a U.S. District Court ruled in early May that the portion of Colorado law that required residency in the state to gather signatures was unconstitutional, putting Lamborn back on the ballot.

Rep. Lamborn has run his campaign to show he is closely aligned with President Trump, calling for increases in military spending and taking a strict approach to immigration.

Lamborn also directly criticized challenger Darryl Glenn for revoking his support for then candidate Donald Trump following the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape.

Glenn currently serves as an El Paso County Commissioner. He has since complimented President Trump on his policy goals, especially tax reform. During a debate in Woodland Park last month, Glenn said he would work to pass more bills to advance the president’s agenda.

"You know, this country elected a wrecking ball," Glenn said in a debate in Teller County. "And I’m proud to elect him. I voted for that wrecking ball. I support his agenda, and I’m tired of Congress not putting a bill on his desk and actually implementing the agenda."

That has also been echoed by Owen Hill, a state senator who represented the northern part of Colorado Springs at the state capitol in Denver. Hill is calling for more tax reform, and for more security along the border.

Hill has also worked to position himself as a pro-gun candidate. co-sponsoring bills in the state legislature to remove bans restricting ammunition magazines. He also said schools should have more resources on hand to prevent school shootings and that efforts to reduce gun violence at schools should not include guns.

Tyler Stevens, the current mayor of Green Mountain Falls, agreed with that assessment during the Woodland Park debate. Stevens holds many of the same positions on the issues as the other candidates. On his campaign website, Stevens lists regulatory reform and fiscal conservatism as his primary goals. 

However, not all candidates in the race said they were as closely aligned with would pledge their support to Trump.

Bill Rhea, who served as a judge in Texas before moving to Colorado Springs, has billed himself as the "wild card" in the race. Rhea criticized Trump in the debate, calling some of his actions "divisive."

"We will not stand if we continue the political wars that we regularly engage in," Rhea said during the Woodland Park debate. "We even vilify one another."

On the home page of his campaign website, Rhea said he’s committed to engaging in "reasoned, respectful bipartisan debate."

Lamborn’s challengers argue the district needs new representation and a new voice in Washington.

A poll from Magellan Strategies in May showed Lamborn leading the race for the nomination with 37 percent of likely voters saying they would vote for him. Glenn had 27 percent, while Hill had 10 percent. Stevens and Rhea lagged behind those three.

For the Democrats, Tuesday should be a simple procedure as their candidate, Stephany Rose Spaulding, is running uncontested. On Spaulding’s campaign website, she said the International Women’s March in Washington D.C. helped inspired her candidacy. 

According to her campaign website, Spaulding is an Associate Professor of Women’s and Ethnic Studies at UCCS and a licensed minister. 

On the issues, she takes a markedly different approach than many of her possible opponents. She calls for increases to school funding, support and reform to the Affordable Care Act and differences when it comes to tax cuts.

Spaulding will have a tough race ahead of her. No Democrat has won the 5th district since its formation in 1972.