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Colorado Democrats already fundraising off chance Gordon Klingenschmitt could run for office again

Author: Ernest Luning - January 14, 2018 - Updated: January 15, 2018

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Former state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, right, listens raptly as House Majority Leder Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, delivers remarks on opening day of the Colorado General Assembly on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in House chambers at the state Capitol in Denver. Klingenschmitt said the night before he was considering a run for another El Paso County House seat in the fall election. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Former state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, right, listens raptly as House Majority Leder Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, delivers remarks on opening day of the Colorado General Assembly on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in House chambers at the state Capitol in Denver. Klingenschmitt said the night before he was considering a run for another El Paso County House seat in the fall election. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

No sooner had word gotten out that former state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt was considering mounting a political comeback than the Colorado Democrats were sounding the alarm — and passing the hat.

In a fundraising email blasted out Wednesday, the director of the state Democrats’ House Majority Project warned supporters that Klingenschmitt, a Colorado Springs Republican, was floating the possibility of running this year in a different House district than the one he represented for a term filled with nearly constant controversy.

“We are going to fight with everything we have to keep Klingenschmitt out of the State House,” wrote Matthew McGovern, who heads the campaign arm of the House Democrats, in the fundraising email. “But, to fight against his network of rabid supporters, we need your support.”

Colorado Politics was first to report Tuesday night that Klingenschmitt was mulling a run against state Rep. Tony Exum, a Colorado Springs Democrat who represents House District 17, a seat that has changed hands between the two major parties every election since 2006. Klingenschmitt previously represented solidly Republican House District 15 but gave that up two years ago to run for an open Senate seat, only to lose in the GOP primary.

A former Navy chaplain known as “Dr. Chaps,” who  operates a ministry and hosts the Pray in Jesus’ Name News show, broadcast online and over satellite networks, Klingenschmitt is a veritable fountain of provocative statements, McGovern pointed out in the fundraising email.

“Do you remember Gordon Klingenschmitt? Here’s a reminder, he compared gay Americans to Isis and said they have something “inhuman inside them” and compared President Obama to a demon.

“But what has he been up to lately? Well, he campaigned for Roy Moore in Alabama and said that while he didn’t personally know those accusing Roy Moore, that they are accused liars and that Roy Moore isn’t (seriously, skip to 1:15 to hear it).”

Democratic staffers told Colorado Politics that a potential Klingenschmitt return provoked equal parts revulsion and glee — because, while the Republican’s ultra-conservative positions are about as far from the Democrats’ as possible, no one else in Colorado lights a fire under Democratic donors the way Klingenschmitt does.

“This is a fight we cannot afford to lose, we cannot have Klingenshcmitt back in the House,” the email concluded in text that linked to a site that accepts online donations.

Klingenschmitt told Colorado Politics he isn’t avid to return to the political arena but wants El Paso County Republicans to know he’d be willing to run against Exum if a strong candidate doesn’t step up for the seat by the time precinct caucuses roll around in early March. That’s because the district’s history suggests its voters could be poised to elect a Republican this year, he said, but they can’t do that if a serious candidate doesn’t run.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.