"When they allow a talk show host to play them like a two-dollar banjo, they demonstrate what kind of backbone they'll bring to the job later on, if we elect them. After they get elected will they continue to allow Jeff Crank to put a nickel in them and wind them up every Saturday morning?"

Barry Noreen, former columnist, Colorado Springs Gazette

Friday, July 24, 2009

The El Paso County Bench

Eventually the Republican candidates for governor will have to pick a running mate. Running mates are typical chosen to either balance out the weaknesses or underscore the strengths for the top of the ticket. With that in mind, I offer an examination of each elected official from El Paso County under the light of how they would play as a potential running mate for either of the two major candidates. Given the number of officials, the list will be broken down between two weeks. This is meant to generate discussion based on my views, so feel free to agree, disagree, or point out what I’ve missed.

County Commissioner Jim Bensberg- The soon to be former County Commissioner from District 5 has a solid resume and a good electoral history but doesn’t offer anything obvious when it comes to underscoring the strengths or balancing out the weaknesses of either of the major candidates.

State Senator Bill Cadman- Cadman has represented El Paso County since 2000 and has established a conservative voting record. Cadman might offer balance if Republicans nominate a moderate (which I don’t consider either McInnis or Penry to be moderates), but there are a lot of people from El Paso County who offer that who might be better known.

County Commissioner Sallie Clark- As a County Commissioner from and a former city council woman, on paper Clark offers balance with her gender and politically moderate image. She might also help balance out Penry’s experience. But it is difficult to gauge how her nomination would go over with conservatives and how well known she is outside of El Paso county.

State Representative Bob Gardner- Rep. Gardner is well known and would underscore both candidates conservatism. Gardner would offer balance to Penry in the area of experience, but Gardner might be more comfortable behind the scenes.

County Commissioner Dennis Hisey- This quiet conservative underscores either candidate’s conservative view points, but doesn’t appeal to any specific demographic.

State Senator Keith King- Sen. King’s conservative bona-fides and stance on school choice would allow him to shore up the base should the primary be too divisive. But what could be gained by party unity may not play well with the crucial group of independents that the election will hinge on.

State Representative Kent Lambert- Rep. Lambert would also underscore either candidate’s conservatism , hails from an entirely suburban district, and would balance either candidate with his prior military experience, but might not play well statewide.

County Commissioner Amy Lathen- This new county Commissioner would underscore McInnis and Penry’s conservative stances, and offers gender balance to the all male field. Lathen wouldn’t contribute much on the experience front, which would be a drawback should Penry cinch the nomination.

State Representative Larry Liston- Representative Liston is an able legislator from a suburban district in the heart of El Paso County who’s conservative credentials are solid. He offers business experience that would underscore McInnis and offers balance to Penry. But how would Liston do state-wide?

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