El Paso County Democrats meet at assembly

By: Jesse Byrnes jesse.byrnes@gazette.com
March 23, 2014 Updated: March 23, 2014 at 8:30 am
photo - Democrats gather at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs campus in the Berger Hall for the The El Paso County Democratic Party Saturday, March 22, 2014. Photo by Mason Trinca, The Gazette
Democrats gather at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs campus in the Berger Hall for the The El Paso County Democratic Party Saturday, March 22, 2014. Photo by Mason Trinca, The Gazette 

A couple of hundred El Paso County Democrats assembled in Berger Hall on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus Saturday to show support for Democrats in upcoming county-level races.

Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke early at the event before leaving for the Pueblo County Assembly. He mentioned Coloradans' ability to push through adversity like fires and floods, the importance of jobs and the need to vote.

Hickenlooper, who is running for re-election, said he would campaign again without negative campaign advertisements - and that there would be no shower commercials this year, a reference to his 2010 ad in which he took several showers fully clothed in criticism of negative ads.

Regarding November's general election, there seems to be a mood shift in some areas, said Lois Fornander, nominated for House District 15, which is now held by Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs.

"It's a tough House district," said Fornander, noting the district is 50 percent Republican and 20 percent Democrat.

"It's not even a hill to climb," she said. "It's a cliff."

Fornander will face the winner of the June 24 GOP primary. Four Republicans have thrown their names in to replace Waller, who is running for attorney general.

"They're going to have to stake out their positions and show how extreme they are," Fornander said.

No Democrats will face primary challenges.

Incumbent Democrats Rep. Tony Exum and Rep. Pete Lee were nominated for re-election in House Districts 17 and 18, respectively, along with newcomer Glenn Carlson, who will face Republican incumbent Rep. Dan Nordberg in House District 14.

"I want to make sure we don't reach for the emotional answer in either direction," said Carlson on the issue of gun control, one of the campaign issues he mentioned, including reliance on Department of Defense funding, jobs and student loan debt.

Instead, Carlson said, the focus should be on mental health, which he described as the "elephant in the room."

Irv Halter, a retired two-star Air Force general, received more than 75 percent of the votes Saturday, flying past fellow Democrat Leslie Summey to face GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn for the 5th Congressional District in the November election.

"This is a guy that would rather shut down the government than get together and talk about some minor fixes for the health care law," Halter told delegates Saturday.

Lamborn and Halter raised nearly the same amounts in the fourth quarter, based on numbers released at the end of January.

Lamborn raised $56,658, spent $13,624 and had $113,674 in cash on hand, while Halter raised $55,213, spent $28,640 and was left with $109,739.

"I wouldn't be in this if I didn't think I could win," Halter said. "It's going to be a tough race, but we are going to give (Lamborn) the best competitor he's ever had."

Betsy Markey, a former congresswoman for House District 4 who lost to Cory Gardner in 2010 and is now running for state treasurer, was present at the assembly, along with Joe Neguse, Democratic candidate for secretary of state, and Don Quick, candidate for attorney general.

The Democratic state assembly will be held April 12.

"We've got to get more people involved," said Mark Knight, a delegate in House District 17 since 2000. Knight, who did not attend the state assembly this year but has gone a handful of times, said it was "kind of frustrating" more haven't gotten involved.

El Paso County Republicans will hold their convention at UCCS on Saturday.


Connect on Twitter: @jessebyrnes

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