With primary ballots arriving in mailboxes this week, The Gazette editorial board offers the following endorsements in contested Republican primaries after vetting candidates in key races.
The Gazette has no intention of dictating how anyone votes. The board has no such authority. We share our preferences and ask readers to consider them as part of their personal due diligence in voting decisions.
The Gazette chooses candidates after reviewing literature and news coverage. We observe some at forums and debates and meet personally with as many as possible. Some candidates we have known for years and met with on multiple occasions. Others we met and acquainted ourselves with only after they made it onto this year's ballot.
We favor candidates who support business, free market economics, education outcomes, better transportation infrastructure, families, health care innovations, and anything else that helps more people avoid poverty and enjoy prosperity.
The term-limited state treasurer, Stapleton has a proven record of standing up for hard-working Coloradans. His work benefits middle-class families — struggling to provide food, shelter and clothing — and the working poor. Though holding a statewide public office for two straight terms, he is the rare politician who consistently crusades against the "establishment" of decision makers moving in packs.
Examples of Stapleton's bold leadership:
- Led crusade to defeat a $1 billion tax increase. Though pitched as a plan to benefit schoolchildren, Stapleton exposed it as a ploy to backfill lucrative retirement pensions for public employees.
- Called out the Department of Transportation for claiming poverty while spending $150 million on new offices.
- Led the charge against a socialized health care plan to raise annual taxes $25 billion and impose a 10 percent income tax.
- Serves as lone voice of responsibility on the board of the state's Public Employees Retirement Association, doing the hard work of protecting public pensions and taxpayers.
- Spent eight years holding a variety of state agencies accountable for responsible stewardship of taxpayer assets.
As a young, articulate professional with proven leadership skills, Stapleton can appeal to urban and rural voters of all demographics. The electorate mostly wants good results, and Stapleton delivers them. He is the Republican most likely to defy odds and win the general election.
Congressional District 5
Doug Lamborn’s sixth term has been remarkably good for Colorado Springs and the rest of the Fifth Congressional District.
This year, Lamborn celebrated three major developments for the region's military and veterans communities. He began crusading for the new Pikes Peak National Veterans Cemetery upon assuming office in 2007. Development began this year.
A ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, Lamborn played a key role in landing a tank brigade at Fort Carson this year. In addition, he successfully lobbied the Pentagon to choose Colorado Springs for 800 additional troops, bringing Fort Carson's troop population to its highest level since the Vietnam War.
A routine succession of primary rivals have raised questions about Lamborn's effectiveness in office since his election in 2006. It becomes a difficult case to support, as Lamborn's seniority continues paying off for the Pikes Peak region. His accomplishments speak for themselves. To maintain this momentum, re-elect Doug Lamborn.
The 28th sheriff of El Paso County, Elder took over a department in peril after then-Sheriff Terry Maketa came under serious accusations of misconduct, none of which led to convictions.
Elder improved morale and directed the office back to running a jail and keeping the peace. A seasoned law-enforcement professional, he continues moving the office in the right direction.
Elder began his career volunteering with the Sheriff's Office in 1978.
Elder relentlessly fights drug cartels and hundreds of illegal marijuana producers that raise violent crime rates and jeopardize children. His anti-drug work has landed him on national TV, warning other states about Colorado's poorly regulated pot industry.
We met with contender Mike Angley. He appears capable and brings relevant experience. But, he doused our positive impression with a desperate campaign mailer communicating scurrilous and unfounded accusations directed at the Sheriff's Office. It sounded nutty.
Elder saved the Sheriff's Office and improved public safety. Another term benefits our county.
County Commissioner District 1
This was our most difficult decision and will be a tough choice for informed voters. District 1 has two strong candidates, with a race pitting Vargas against former El Paso County Public Trustee Holly Williams.
Both candidates are competent, likable conservatives ready and eager to serve.
In an unusual move for someone seeking our support, Vargas criticized the editorial board for supporting county government's retention of a taxpayer refund to improve I-25. She opposed the measure.
"We have millions of dollars of road needs in the county that could have used that money," she said. "We have an unsafe Highway 105 cutting through Monument. Law enforcement needs money for marijuana enforcement. Yet, we gave $6 million to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Now, CDOT wants tolls on any new I-25 lanes this money was for. We should have controlled that money and used it here."
Vargas sold us on impassioned concerns for water, public safety, smart growth, and transportation. She promises to spend time at the Legislature, "getting feisty" in her defense of El Paso County.
"Our authority, as county commissioners, comes from the state Legislature," she said. "Legislators count on us to show up and tell them how they can better serve the interests of county residents. As a county commissioner, you better be there and be there often. I will be everywhere, defending the people of this county."
District 1 will win with either candidate. Voters who want a millennial buzz saw, chewing through dysfunction and passivity, will choose Calandra Vargas.
County Commissioner District 5
Her campaign slogan is "pragmatic leadership," and she offers realistic solutions to serious concerns.
A fiscal and social conservative, Bremer lists fixing the I-25 gap between Monument and Castle Rock as a top priority.
To reduce homelessness, she offers a plan to better coordinate efforts of the county, nonprofits and private businesses.
"Government cannot solve these problems alone," she says.
She emphasizes public safety, efficient use of taxpayer money and other conservative goals among priorities.
Our support for Bremer should not convey disapproval of her primary contender, Vickie Tonkins. Both candidates are solid conservatives with similar values. We based our decision mostly on each candidate's knowledge of community affairs and ideas for moving us forward.
House District 14
A former police officer, incumbent Sandridge is a stalwart conservative who advocates public safety, gun rights, and other liberties.
He fights like few others to widen I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock.
Sandridge has A+ scores from Principles of Liberty and the NRA. To keep a proven, results-oriented conservative in office, District 14 voters will choose Sandridge.
House District 21
Incumbent Landgraf is a competent, seasoned public servant with a deep knowledge of issues. She exudes willingness to listen and work with anyone who can help advance the interests of her constituents. She supported a bill to provide tax exemptions for veterans. She has worked to make it easier for retirees to remain in Colorado, even as the cost of living continues going up. She cares about people and gets results.
Senate District 2
As a former county commissioner and longtime local public servant, Hisey has a proven record of helping constituents. He is notably personable and approachable. District residents can expect a responsive senator who returns their calls and listens.
EDITOR'S NOTE: As of deadline for this editorial, The Gazette had met with three of four Democratic gubernatorial primary candidates. The editorial board plans to share insights and observations this week.