Congressional candidates slam Lamborn letter about AFA religious freedoms
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Bentley Rayburn.

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Bentley Rayburn, a retired Air Force major general, said Monday that he will run for the 5th Congressional District, saying he can do better than incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn.

"I think that the delegates and the alternates deserve to have an option at the assembly," Rayburn said.

The GOP assembly for the Colorado Springs-based district is April 11, and Rayburn will have to get the support of at least 30 percent of the delegates to get on the ballot for the June primary.

"Right now the conversation we're going to have is really inside the party, inside the family with our delegates and our alternates," he said.

Monday was the deadline for candidates to turn in signatures if they wanted to petition onto the ballot, so Rayburn is at the mercy of the delegates.

Lamborn spoke to many of those 444 delegates Saturday at the El Paso County Republican Assembly, where he took the stage to applause and pledged to continue to fight in Washington, D.C., against Obamacare and for his heavily military-centered district.

Lamborn has held the office since 2006, when there was a crowded Republican field for the vacant seat. He won that year with 12,801 votes, and Rayburn came in third with 9,077.

"I had never done it before and we didn't have much time at all but we put together a campaign ... and we ended up in third place ahead of some of the longtime local politicians," Rayburn said.

He ran again unsuccessfully in 2008.

If there's a primary, the winner will face Irv Halter, a retired Air Force two-star general, who entered the race as a Democrat months ago and has raised a significant amount of resources in his bid to unseat Lamborn.

"There's always a concern of somebody from the other party in the race," Rayburn said.

"I know Irv. We're colleagues and friends, so once we get past the primary - the assembly first - then we'll focus on the competition from the Democrats."

Halter's campaign manager, Ethan Susseles, said the challenge shows Lamborn's weakness within the GOP.

"It is clear that he has never solidified his base, and even members of the Republican Party are looking for an alternative," Susseles said.

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