Gordon Kingenschmitt

County commissioner candidate Gordon Kingenschmitt speaks during a candidate forum for city council sponsored by the NAACP of Colorado Springs at Sand Creek Library on Sunday, March 24, 2019. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

Former Republican state representative and conservative firebrand Gordon Klingenschmitt said Friday that he hasn’t given up on politics despite a recent defeat.

Klingenschmitt said he will seek a seat on the five-member county commissioners this November in District 2, which encompasses much of eastern Colorado Springs up to the edge of northeastern El Paso County.

“We need conservative leadership in our county to keep El Paso County free from the oppression that is coming from state government,” he said.

This year, Klingenschmitt ran unsuccessfully for at-large seat on the Colorado Springs City Council, finishing fouth behind the three candidates who won council seats.

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The close loss encouraged him to run for commissioner.

A former Navy chaplain and internet televangelist, Klingenschmitt hasn’t held public office since 2017, when he finished serving one term in Colorado’s House, representing District 15 on Colorado Springs’ east side. He lost a 2016 bid for a state Senate seat in District 12, won by Republican Bob Gardner.

Klingenschmitt hosts a conservative talk show called Pray In Jesus’ Name.

Klingenschmitt is no stranger to controversy. While in the statehouse, he accused then-President Barack Obama of being possessed by demons and claimed then-U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who is gay, wanted to “join ISIS in beheading Christians.” He later walked back that remark and said it wasn’t serious.

As commissioner, Klingenschmitt said he will prioritize lowering sales taxes, improving road maintenance, protecting “constitutional liberties” and prioritizing “religious conservative” issues.

“The Democrats are coming after El Paso County, and we need strong leadership to keep our county red,” he said.

When he ran for city council, Klingenschmitt said he would eliminate the $6,250 stipend that council members receive. He said commissioners, whose $120,485 annual salary is set by the state, should be cut, adding all county employees should have their salaries cut because they make far more than the median income of a Colorado Springs resident.

Klingenschmitt is running to replace Mark Waller, who is leaving his seat to run for 4th Judicial District Attorney. Waller was elected to the commissioners in 2016.

“In a county race, the district is far more conservative than the city,” Klingenschmitt said. “And I’m probably the best fit for the district. I think this is winnable, and I plan to win,” he paused, then added, “if the voters support me.”

Carrie Geitner, wife of Republican state Rep. Tim Geitner, also is running for the District 2 seat.

She said she’s a former high school teacher who runs a T-shirt and embroidery business. She’s worked as a consultant for candidates for local offices and is trying to help start a charter school in District 49 in Falcon.

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@evanochsner

Evan is a 2019 intern at The Gazette. He is a Colorado Springs native who is currently a student at Northwestern University.

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