Colorado SpringsElection 2018FeaturedNews

California filmmakers throw their talents behind long-shot CD5 Democratic challenger

Author: Conrad Swanson - August 2, 2018 - Updated: August 23, 2018

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Stephany Spaulding, the Democratic candidate looking to unseat U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in the 5th Congressional District, speaks with friends and voters Aug. 1 as she is filmed. (The Gazette file photo)

An out-of-state group of all-female filmmakers is volunteering for Stephany Spaulding’s uphill race to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in Colorado’s conservative 5th Congressional District.

The group, Los Angeles-based political action committee One Vote At A Time, partially looks to the success of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for inspiration, executive producer Mara Tasker said.

Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old political novice, used a strong social media presence and aggressive supporter base to buck her high-level incumbent opponent, Rep. Joseph Crowley, in New York’s Democratic primary in June.

Tasker said the PAC coordinates with state Democratic parties across the country to find underdog progressive candidates who could benefit from a high-quality, informational campaign ad that can be shared online, through social media or more traditional avenues like television. About half a dozen filmmakers and producers interviewed and filmed Spaulding in Colorado Springs on Wednesday.

Over the next month Tasker said the group will cut and edit the video and pass it to Spaulding who can share it how she chooses.

This year, One Vote At A Time will perform the same service for 249 other candidates across the country, 17 of whom are in Colorado, Tasker said.

But Spaulding’s history, political stances, charisma and unique challenges earned her extra attention from the group, producer Kara Durrett said.

Lamborn has three times the campaign funds that Spaulding has and has outspent her five times over, according to recent campaign finance reports. If elected, the tenured professor of women’s and ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs would be the first Democrat, first woman and first African-American elected to the district.

Despite the challenging race ahead of her, Durrett said she believes Spaulding has a chance to win.

The country’s long-standing political norms are in a state of upheaval, she said, encouraging District 5 residents to vote for the individual candidate rather than along party lines.

“It’s unpredictable,” Durrett said. “Everything is possible now.”

Spaulding said she is thankful for the support and said the electorate is fed up with current political trends and wants new options. She pointed to high voter turnout in the June primary as evidence.

Off-year elections and primaries historically have lower voter turnout than presidential election years. But this year’s Democratic voter turnout in District 5 was the highest it’s been in the decade.

“For so long people have written this district off,” Spaulding said. “But now people are saying ‘Nope, we’re gonna work for this one.’”

Spaulding, who was opposed in the primary only by a write-in candidate, received 45,466 votes, more than twice the 19,207 Democratic votes cast in the district’s primary in the 2016.

Lamborn received 54,974 votes in this year’s primary, defeating four Republican challengers. In all, Spaulding received 30 percent of the total votes cast in the primary to Lamborn’s 36 percent.

Some have speculated that a blue wave of voters will turn out for the November elections, but Dallas Jamison, Spaulding’s media adviser, said she expects a “pink wave.”

“There are so many women who are so very, very motivated to get out there and make their concerns known,” Jamison said.

For the women filming and interviewing Spaulding, the biggest concern is common sense gun legislation, Tasker said.

One Vote At A Time seeks candidates who see gun safety as a public health issue and can prioritize new legislation over the interests of big donors like the National Rifle Association, Tasker said.

Spaulding has said she wants to bolster background checks to keep firearms out of the wrong hands and to lean on mental health experts to develop that system.

A native of Chicago’s south side, a career educator and a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, Spaulding said has said she’s no stranger to adversity and she’s hoping the work with One Vote At A Time will be enough to push her campaign ahead of Lamborn’s.

Even if Spaulding isn’t elected, Tasker said her group’s secondary goal is to better inform the electorate.

“We’re moved by her dedication, her commitment and her fortitude,” she said. “If we can help move the needle and expose people to new viewpoints and ideas, that will be a success.”

Conrad Swanson

Conrad Swanson