By John Schroyer
The Republican race for Congressional District 5 is now officially a two-man race.
At the 5th Congressional District assembly on Friday, incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn stomped challenger Doug Bergeron, a Colorado Springs insurance salesman, 532 to 84. His only primary opponent now is businessman Robert Blaha, who petitioned onto the primary ballot last month.
Many of the 626 delegates who voted in the morning at the Colorado Convention Center stuck around for several hours to hear vote results for the congressional primary, and the congressman's supporters cheered when the tally was announced.
Still, Lamborn faces the first substantive one-on-one campaign in his congressional career.
When he was first elected in 2006, he beat a bevy of GOP would-be congressmen, after longtime U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley announced he was retiring. In 2008 he beat two other candidates. In 2010, he had no primary race, and easily won re-election in the heavily Republican district.
But if delegates at the assembly are any indication, Lamborn doesn't have much to worry about. Dozens wore Doug Lamborn campaign stickers, and even many who didn't said the incumbent is the likely victor, mainly because of his voting record.
"Lamborn has the upper hand," said 28-year-old Matt Rogers, a Colorado Springs property manager. "It's his track record. He's done very well by conservatives."
The congressman made that argument to delegates Friday morning during a speech in which he painted himself as one of the most conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives. And though he didn't mention Blaha by name, the congressman slammed him as an opportunist, and said he was misrepresenting his record.
Blaha has criticized Lamborn repeatedly, calling him ineffective and a weak leader. One of his mantras is that Lamborn is "0 for 37," referring to the number of bills Lamborn has sponsored. Lamborn has rejected that as deceptive.
"Effectiveness is not only passing bills. It's also killing bad bills," Lamborn said, to a roomful of applause.
Blaha said after the results were in that he's "thrilled" that Bergeron is out of the race.
He said Republicans in the district are fed up with the congressman.
"I've heard that same speech five or six times before. It's not very inspiring," Blaha said. "If I was a voter, I'd be pretty depressed."
He has a shot, said Monument resident Bruce Nygren.
"One of the things that attracts me to him is his business experience," Nygren said. "I'm keeping an open mind. I like the idea of a little bit of turnover."
Six delegates and alternates to the August national Republican assembly in Tampa, Fla., were selected Friday. The main delegates are Attorney General John Suthers, state Senator Kent Lambert and district resident Robin Coran. The alternates are El Paso County Treasurer Bob Balink, and district residents Charles Aligaen and Joseph Burke."