Typically, incumbent members of Congress cruise through re-election cycles, especially through party-heavy districts like CD-5 in El Paso County and the surrounding area. But Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn may face a serious intra-party challenge this year, from a businessman who may be able to bypass the challenges of fundraising.
Robert Blaha, president of Human Capital Associates and vice chairman of the board of Integrity Bank and Trust, said Tuesday that he has formed an exploratory committee to look at a primary challenge to Lamborn, and will make an announcement sometime this month.
“Unless we weren’t absolutely serious about this, we wouldn’t be going down this road,” Blaha said Tuesday. “We’re in the process of examining a lot of information, polls, and focus groups and some other things. We’re doing some real hard ground work.”
A source in the county GOP party said Blaha could pose a real threat to Lamborn for two reasons: Lamborn is not universally loved among county Republicans, and Blaha is wealthy enough that he could likely self-fund his entire campaign.
“A third of the party loves him. He can do no wrong. A third of the party hates him and wants him out. And the other third is kind of on the fence–you know, he votes the way I want him to, he’s okay with me, et cetera,” the source said. “So all Blaha has to do is sway enough of that third, and he’ll win.”
An internal poll from the committee, however, found that of likely primary voters, 47 percent believe Lamborn deserves to be re-elected, 34 percent want “someone new,” and 19 percent have no opinion.
The poll was conducted by Magellan Strategies, and surveyed 632 Republicans in CD-5 on Nov. 7 and 8. Of those, 89 percent said they are “extremely likely” to vote in the primary. The poll has a 4 percent margin of error.
Human Capital Associates, which Blaha founded in 1993, is a consulting company that specializes in streamlining business and government processes, and on developing leadership skills, Blaha said. He said that’s a perfect background for a Congressional candidate.
“I would come from the outside, with a totally, totally different viewpoint on what it takes to effectively run, administer and be an overseer of our tax dollars,” Blaha said.
Still, the power of incumbency is difficult to overcome. Not only that, but Blaha is a political unknown. Colorado GOP party Chairman Ryan Call said Lamborn has voted consistently with the Republican party, and Blaha will have to give primary voters a good reason to uproot the congressman.
“Most voters want to see a track record before rewarding somebody with a high federal office,” Call said.
Two of Blaha’s top issues are improving education and setting term limits for members of Congress. He said he’s been involved in starting up several charter schools, and wants to promote school choice across the nation.
Term limits, which is not exactly a popular issue in Congress, is a hot topic for Blaha. Though he declined to set a number of years or terms, he said not having term limits has allowed members of Congress to sit on their hands on many issues.
“We’ve got a permanent political class, and we have to take a real hard look at it, and say, ‘What makes sense?’” Blaha said.
And he certainly sounded as though his mind was already made up about a run.
“Stay tuned. Excitement’s coming!” Blaha said enthusiastically.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Blaha is also the Chief Management Officer and Executive Vice President Director of Alpha Security Group Corp.