Publication:Colo Spgs Gazette; Date:Oct 27, 2006; Section:Metro; Page Number:18

GOP committeeman quits to back Fawcett

Republican official says such moves backfire


    The Republican committeeman for a Black Forest precinct resigned Thursday because he is supporting Democrat Jay Fawcett in the 5th Congressional District race.

    El Paso County GOP Chairwoman Terry Kunkel said an earlier defection increased support for the Republican candidate, Doug Lamborn, and this one could have the same effect.

    Precinct 240 Chairman Preston Cooper sent a letter Thursday to Kunkel and The Gazette stating his intention to resign. Officeholders within the party are not allowed to support anyone other than the GOP nominee as a condition of their positions.

    Cooper said he disagreed with the “extreme conservatism” shown by Lamborn, a state senator who has vowed never to raise taxes and talks often about introducing more antiabortion legislation than any other member of the legislature.

    Cooper said Lamborn is “ethically challenged,” a reference to a primary campaign in which groups that supported Lamborn rolled out negative ads against his chief opponents, causing a rift that still exists.

    Cooper said his decision to make his resignation public was partly just to vent his frustration. But he would not mind if it inspired other committee chairs who have similar feelings to come out and declare them publicly, he said.

    “I thought it would give you a barometer of how people are feeling in the Republican Party,” Cooper said, adding he knows several other chairmen who are struggling with how they will vote. “I’ve never voted for a Democrat, but now I think it’s about time.”

    Fawcett, a retired Air Force officer, has highlighted the Republicans supporting him.

    Lamborn has run several commercials trying to paint Fawcett as a liberal because of his stances on tax policy and his ties to more liberal factions of the party.

    Mary Ellen McNally, a former city councilwoman and longtime GOP official, resigned from her post earlier this year to support Fawcett.

    Kunkel said the tactic backfired because instead of galvanizing support for Fawcett, it inspired some Republicans to call and ask how they could help Lamborn get elected.

    Kunkel said there is no major division within the party. She does not anticipate that Cooper’s resignation will lead to a flood of followers.