12:05pm

Wed September 26, 2012
A WORD WITH THE CANDIDATES

Over Before They Started, Colorado’s 1st and 5th Congressional Districts

  • Ben Markus reports on the "safe seats" in this year's congressional race for Morning Edition.

This week we’re looking at the issues and candidates in Colorado’s 7 Congressional districts. Five of the races are competitive, but two were over before they started. 

The 1st Congressional District, which covers Denver, hasn’t voted for a Republican since the 1970s. And the 5th District in Colorado Springs has never sent a Democrat to Congress.

With less than six weeks till Election Day, you’d be forgiven for not knowing who Republican Danny Stroud is.

“Hi, my name is Danny Stroud, and I’m running for Congress.”

Stroud recently spent an afternoon introducing himself to would be voters at Arapahoe Community College. He’s running against 9-term Democratic incumbent, Diana DeGette, for the 1st congressional district seat in Denver.

He’s well aware of the odds against him.

“Sure, everybody tells me that every day, I hear that 10 times a day.”

Stroud believes that a change is needed in congress. To him DeGette has been a rubber stamp for President Barack Obama and thinks government spending is out of control. He also thinks that Obamacare must be repealed. The West Point graduate says that’s worth fighting for.

“If you don’t fight, and you don’t defend then you have no backbone. It’s about moral courage; it’s about fighting for what you believe.”

"Hi, my name is Danny Stroud, and I'm running for Congress."

The problem is registered Democrats outnumber Republicans here 2-1. A Republican hasn’t held this seat in 40 years and that was for only one term. As of the last campaign finance reports Stroud had less than $400 in cash on hand. That is compared to DeGette’s $164,000.00.

Those advantages don’t stop DeGette from campaigning a little. At a Town Hall meeting Monday, DeGette rattled off a list of bills she sponsored that passed; one helps alleviate drug shortages, another gets experimental drugs to patients in need.

“That’s why I’m happy to say I actually had accomplishments this year in congress, and they were all bipartisan accomplishments.”

She has no big TV ad blitzes planned though, nor is she a target for well-financed SuperPACs.

CU Boulder Political Scientist Scott Adler studies congress and says the safe seat affords DeGette some luxuries. Like her laser focus on the relativelyobscure issue of stem cell research.

“She has been able to pursue this issue, in some ways freed from the constraints that she might otherwise have if she was running for re-election in a more competitive seat.”

And since she doesn’t need all the campaign money she raises, she’s formed a PAC, originally called the Stem Cell Action Fund.  She says it allows her to donate to other candidates.

“Well, if I can help people who agree with my ideas, like supporting stem cell research, elected then that helps me push those ideas through the congress.”

Farther south in Colorado Springs, Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn doesn’t appear to be campaigning at all right now. This is what you get when you call the campaign headquarters.

“The mailbox...is full and cannot accept messages at this time...goodbye.”

Lamborn’s campaign website lists no events through Election Day that's part of what inspired Dave Anderson to run as an Independent against Lamborn. He says the three term congressman has been nonexistent in the district since winning a hard fought primary this summer. Anderson says he and the green party candidate, Misha Luzov, attended recent energy symposium in Woodland Park.

“Of course congressman Lamborn was invited, and did not.”

Anderson has only about $6,000.00 cash on hand. Lamborn has 5 times that.

Lamborn is a tried and true conservative. He regularly receives the highest ratings for his conservative voting record whether it is for gun rights or cutting federal spending. That’s probably good enough to win a congressional seat that no Democrat or Independent has ever held.