Speaking of Lamborn, wow. The debate was quite an experience, listening in with Fawcett campaign staff and volunteers and the Colorado Springs chapter of Drinking Liberally. Jay wasn't entirely on his game Monday, but he didn't need to be. Lamborn was an embarrassment, particularly when asked by the moderator what he was least proud of in his time in the legislature. "Hmmm . . . . [22 seconds of dead air] . . . . . I stand by my voting record." Add to that the fact that he repeated his opening statement verbatim for a closing and you get the impression that Lamborn isn't among Colorado's great thinkers.
The challenge for Jay isn't his challenger, it's the district itself, with a registration breakdown of 45.8 percent Republican, 21.5 percent Democratic, and 32.3 percent unaffiliated. In order to pull this off, Jay has to get a really big proportion of those unaffiliated voters, and a substantial portion of Republicans wouldn't hurt.
If anybody could do it in this district, it's Jay. The huge presence of the Air Force (Lt. Col. Fawcett is an Academy graduate, and a Bronze Star recipient for his actions in teh first Gulf War) makes Jay a good fit for the district. Add to that the fact that this district has the fourth highest concentration of veterans in the country. So Jay speaks the language of a huge portion of the districts residents, his would-be constituents. That has helped him make incredible inroads--he's been more successful than any previous Democratic candidate in both fundrasing and polling. This is the 18th most Republican House district in the nation, so that's a pretty significant achievement.
More on the flip.
Watching this exchange, and hearing the challenging questions that came from these voters (many of whom were Republicans) gave me the sense that we were in a pretty hostile room. But when the time came, almost everyone there opened up their checkbook.
The evening demonstrates what Jay told me was his most effective strategy in the campaign--reaching out to the reasonable, middle ground of voters in the district, be they Republican, Democratic, or unaffiliated. One thing he hopes to help hasten by building these inraods is the fracturing of the GOP in Colorado. The "extreme, right-wing, evangelical, Christian fundamentalist" Republican wing of the party (that's Jay's description, via Gary Hart) has hijacked the party in this district--home to James Dobson. (In fact, right there on the federal interstate highway driving into Colorado Springs is a big highway sign announcing the exit to the Focus on the Family visitor center.)
The GOP my be fracturing, they may have picked one of the worst, most extreme among them to replace Joel Hefley in this district (Hefley has called Lamborn's tactics in the primary "sleazy" and refused to endorse him), but this is still a Republican district through and through. They have a boatload of money to dump in against Fawcett, and that's what they're doing with a new radio ads starting today. The campaign is getting increasingly ugly as the GOP tries to land the final blow.
The Denver Post's most recently released poll has Lamborn leading by 7. From the outside, and the little bit of inside I've seen of Colorado, even in this incredible year with this incredible candidate, it's hard to imagine Jay pulling off this incredible upset. If any candidate could do it, it's him. If you're anywhere near the district, get out to one of his events on his barnstorming tour, and let him know what a phenomenal job he is doing.