BROOMFIELD – The GOP anticipated a primary race to replace Rep. Cory Gardner in the 4th Congressional District, but unexpected challenges in the 3rd and 5th districts resulting here Friday at Republican State Assembly would be costly and unnecessary, complained some delegates.
“You can quote me on this – more primaries are the last thing we need,” said Cheri Ofner, a Republican delegate from Colorado Springs.
The biggest surprise Friday was state Sen. Scott Renfroe of Greeley winning top line on the 4th CD primary ballot over Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who abandoned his second bid for the U.S. Senate when Gardner entered that race.
Renfroe captured 54 percent of the delegate votes and Buck garnered 46 percent. Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer and Steve Laffey of Larimer County are petitioning onto the ballot.
In the 5th district, Congressman Doug Lamborn gained top line on the ballot with 63 percent of the vote, but he was unable to shut out a challenger, retired Air Force Gen. Bentley Rayburn who received 37 percent.
“I believe in Christian, conservative and Republican values,” said Lamborn. “That’s what I always said I would stand for and that’s what I’ve always stood for.”
“Go with someone who walks the walk, not just someone who talks the talk,” said Lamborn, who is seeking a fifth term.
Rayburn pitched his military experience and told delegates, “you might lose some skirmishes along the way, you might lose some battles. But you will never achieve victory unless you step out onto the battlefield and fight.”
This is Rayburn’s third attempt to beat Lamborn in primary battles; in 2006 and 2008 the retired general placed third behind Lamborn and challenger Jeff Crank, a political consultant and KVOR radio talk show host. Crank endorsed Lamborn last week.
In the 3rd district, Congressman Scott Tipton will face primary challenger David Cox, a libertarian-leaning Republican supported by tea party activists on the Western Slope. Tipton, who is seeking a third term, captured 71 percent of the vote compared to 33 percent for Cox.
Ofner and other party activists expressed concerns that the primary battles will drain money and campaign volunteers from their top goals – electing candidates to defeat Democrat incumbents U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Candidates traveling the caucus to assembly route will ask delegates for their votes Saturday. In the race for governor, Republican candidates include former Congressman Bob Beauprez, state Sen. Greg Brophy, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, businessman Steve House, former state Sen. Mike Kopp and Roni Bell Sylvester.
Former Congressman Tom Tancredo petitioned successfully onto the primary ballot, but will attend the state assembly. Unknown is whether Beauprez, who has also submitted petitions, will opt out of the assembly process.
Bets are on that Gardner will emerge as the top contender in the U.S. Senate race over challengers state Sen. Randy Baumgardner and Tom Janich, former school board director in Adams County, to take on Udall.