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Klingenschmitt: There’s a future for Lebsock in the Republican Party

Author: Erin Prater - March 6, 2018 - Updated: March 8, 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)

There may not be many mulling the political future of former Colorado state Rep. Steve Lebsock — especially after our report that he may have shot himself in the foot while switching from red to blue shortly before being expelled Friday.

But former Colorado state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt is — and he thinks Lebsock’s future could be bright.

“In the Republican Party, there is a libertarian wing that doesn’t believe the Bible like I do,” said Klingenschmitt, a controversial former Navy chaplain and host of PIJN (“Pray in Jesus Name”) News on YouTube.

“Steve Lebsock would fit in that wing, although he’s not a social conservative like I am.”

Klingenschmitt is quick to point out that he called for Lebsock to immediately switch from Democrat to Republican in a December 2017 op-ed published on Colorado Politics.

“I was the first voice asking Steve to switch to parties,” Klingenschmitt told Colorado Politics on Monday. “I’m not taking credit for his decision, but I’m glad that he did it.”

Kingenschmitt says he would have stood with the nine Republican legislators who voted against Lebsock’s expulsion Friday — politicians who are “far-right conservatives like myself who often vote no on these things.”

For starters, he doesn’t believe the accusations against Lebsock, which he thinks were politically motivated, more likely than not. (“There may be things I’m not aware of,” Klingenschmitt admits.)

“Steve was a moderate Democrat,” said Klingenschmitt, who met Lebsock in 2015 when both served on the House’s Local Government committee. “He was pro-gun, pro-liberty. He wanted smaller government. I think there were political reasons for him to have left his party the way he did.”

During his time working together with Lebsock, Klingenschmitt says he never saw behavior even remotely resembling what Lebsock was accused of.

“I am 100 percent against real sexual harassment,” Klingenschmitt said. “But even the allegations — which Lebsock denies — do not rise to the level of criminality.

“He’s basically accused of unsuccessful dating habits. He asked some women out and they said no — and that was it. That’s not even harassment, in my mind.”

As for the allegations of retaliation leveled against Lebsock: “I think Steve was probably trying to defend his honor, his reputation by saying (his accusers) are not above reproach — ‘I’m not above reproach, neither are they.’ That’s not a threat, in my mind.”

Lebsock was never the deepest shade of blue, according to Dr. Chaps — a quality that might help him more easily chameleon to some shade of red.

“The Republican Party is a big tent, and while there is no room for sexual harassment in our party, there is room for libertarian viewpoints on sexuality,” Klingenschmitt said.

But the chances of Lebsock re-entering the political arena are slim, he thinks.

“I don’t believe he’ll ever show an interest in running ever again,” Klingenschmitt said. “This experience has probably left him with a bitter taste in his mouth for politics, and I see why. It’s the same thing they did to my friend Roy Moore in Alabama.”

Erin Prater

Erin Prater

Erin Prater is Colorado Politics' digital editor. She is a multimedia journalist with 15 years of experience writing, editing and designing for newspapers, magazines, websites and publishing houses. Her previous positions include military reporter at The Gazette, general assignment reporter at The Huerfano County (Colo.) World, copy editor at David C. Cook publishing house and adjunct mass communication instructor at Pueblo Community College. Her bylines include The New York Times Upfront, The Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Military Spouse magazine and Omaha Magazine (Omaha, Neb.). Her syndicated bylines include The Denver Post, MSNBC.com, Military.com and wire services.