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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: Colorado

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February 7, 2012 at 11:34 AM

The road to the White House runs through … Pueblo, Colorado?

steel mill in Pueblo, CO

Pueblo, CO steel mill (Photo by Jason Gilmore / UW Election Eye)

PUEBLO — About an hour south of Colorado’s famous conservative mecca, Colorado Springs, we found the city of Pueblo hard at work. No flashy controversies here. No Focus on the Familys and no Ted Haggards. Just friendly, hard-working folks trying to help their city — like so many others in this country — recover from the recession.

It only takes a few minutes walking along downtown’s Main Street for one to realize that people here care more about what the next President can do to help Pueblo than who the new president is. Citizens have a chance to cast their votes on the Republican side in tonight’s state-wide caucuses.

The city has suffered job cuts from some major local employers. The biggest hit came when air conditioning company Trane downsized its Pueblo workforce by 37% in 2009. Even the city’s only daily newspaper, The Chieftan, had to reduce its staff by 5% (11 employees). According to some, this is indicative of a larger, negative economic trend in the area.

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Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, Chamber of Commerce, Colorado

February 7, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Fort Carson: Can a Gen. Patton be transparent?

Driving into Fort Carson (Photo by Corey Christiansen / UW Election Eye)

FORT CARSON — When one thinks of military leaders, an image of Gen. George S. Patton might come to mind. It does for me: A tough, no-nonsense, gruff leader.

When I went to Fort Carson U.S. Army post this afternoon, I expected two things: 1. That their head honcho would be like Patton, and 2. That I would get nowhere near meeting him.

I was wrong on both accounts.

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Comments | Topics: army, Colorado, Colorado Springs

February 7, 2012 at 5:24 AM

With a "purple" faith, evangelical Christians in Colorado defy easy stereotypes

COLORADO SPRINGS — It’s not just the electoral votes that are purple — that is, a mix of conservative and liberal — in this independence-loving mountain state. It’s the religiously minded voters, too, who seem to operate at a shade more subtle than in other places.

With some of its largest churches unaffiliated with distinct denominations, the Christian community here is theologically diverse, composed of a range of hard-to-summarize beliefs. This spectrum includes the fiscally conservative with the socially liberal, or, just as easily, the other way around.

Ted Haggard's congregation meets for service in Colorado Springs on Sunday morning, Feb. 5, 2012. The non-denominational church reflects the independent ethos of the state (Photo by Jason Gilmore / UW Election Eye)

“The rest of the world scoffs at us when we place our belief in a particular political [party] instead of Christ,” said Matt Heard, the head pastor at Woodmen Valley Chapel, one of the more influential “megachurches” in Colorado Springs, at Sunday’s evening service.

Christians ought to operate with a more heavenly focus, he said.

The state’s Republican voters attend caucuses this evening to cast ballots for the party’s presidential nomination.

A former evangelical fortress?

The state’s reputation as a center for modern-day American evangelicalism, based in Colorado Springs, is over-rated, said pastor Doug Olsen, also of Woodmen. It remains the national headquarters for Focus on the Family, Navigators and other evangelical groups, but the city’s religious leanings are more complicated.

“We’re an ordinary city with human people that happens to have Christians living in it,” Olsen said, adding that his church works with the local government on outreach efforts to the large military community in the area, as well as to its homeless population.

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Comments | Topics: Caucuses, Colorado, Colorado caucus

February 6, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Ted Haggard, forgiveness, and renewal in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS — I didn’t want to go. To Ted Haggard’s new church, that is.

In 1984, Haggard founded New Life, a nondenominational church in Colorado Springs that grew to 14,000 members under his leadership. He gained national stature and became president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an organization of 45,000 churches. But in 2006 he admitted he had an affair with a male prostitute, and resigned his positions as New Life pastor and head of the NAE.

In recent years Haggard has made something of a spiritual comeback, founding St. James, a new church that first met on the Haggard’s property in a barn and now assembles in a local middle school.

As a person of faith, and a scholar, and a journalist, I sometimes find my various roles colliding. Although I was not interested in rehashing Haggard’s history, I was interested in the complicated relationship Protestant Christianity sometimes has with its spiritually wounded.

So I went, albeit reluctantly, to Haggard’s new church Sunday.

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Comments | Topics: Colorado, Colorado Springs, conservatives

February 5, 2012 at 3:06 PM

Tim Tebow Country: Football and faith now, politics perhaps to come

COLORADO SPRINGS — This is Tebow Country. America that is, not just Colorado.

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow strikes a prayerful posture that has become known as "Tebowing." (Screenshot from website of Ted Haggard, pastor in Colorado Springs and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals.)

Tim Tebow is the only college sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, and he led the University of Florida’s football team to national championships in 2007 and 2009.  He is in his second year as quarterback of the Denver Broncos, and turned a Broncos team with a 1-4 record into a NFL playoff team. They won a first-round game before being eliminated by the New England Patriots, who lost a nailbiter to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Tebow is far more than a quarterback, though. He’s a cultural icon.

He is beloved among evangelicals for being outspoken about his Christian beliefs and because he infuses faith demonstrations into his on-field behavior. Most prominent is Tebow’s touchdown celebration ritual of taking a knee, bowing his head, and praying — a posture now known as “Tebowing.” He has become such a cultural icon that Saturday Night Live did a skit about him.

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Comments | Topics: Advertisements, Colorado, Evangelicals

February 5, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Gallery: On the ground in Colorado, Romney stakes his claim

COLORADO SPRINGS — While our colleagues covered yesterday’s caucus in Nevada as Romney pulled away with a solid win, UW Election Eye reporter Jason Gilmore and I arrived in snowy Colorado to lead our coverage of the Centennial State’s caucuses on Tuesday.

Our first stop was the evangelical stronghold of Colorado Springs, where Mitt Romney flew in for a “plum-packed” (in the words of one volunteer) rally late Saturday afternoon and quickly staked a confident claim to the Republican voters there.

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Comments | Topics: Colorado, Colorado caucus, Mitt Romney

February 2, 2012 at 6:37 AM

On the road to Nevada and Colorado caucuses: Sin City, Super Bowl Weekend, Ted Haggard, and Tim Tebow

(Courtesy of flickr/John Wardell)

LAS VEGAS — Call us crazy. Our friends and families certainly do.

This morning we hit the road for another week on the ground of the presidential three-ring circus — er, campaign.

Our first stop is in the bright lights here to chronicle three days of Republican Party campaigning and Saturday caucuses in what are high holy days in the Sin City — Super Bowl weekend. To kick it off, Donald Trump will make a “major” announcement today at 12:30 pm at his eponymous Trump Hotel and Towers on The Strip. We’ll be there — not to see The Donald, but to see what surrounds him. Epic. Absurd. America.

In Vegas, we plan to report on the housing crisis in the nation’s worst-hit city for foreclosures, to examine how people of the Mormon faith thrive in a state known for gambling and legal prostitution, to get some up-close insight into famously inexpensive Las Vegas culinary culture, to shed some light on Newt Gingrich’s largest benefactor and Las Vegas hotel mogul Sheldon Adelson, and to unpack the Nevada Republican Party’s decision to release the caucus results via twitter.

On Saturday we’ll be tweeting results and commentary from caucuses all across Clark County, which houses 60% of the state’s Republican population. The final caucus of the day will be held at a school named for Adelson, which should be interesting.

At dawn Sunday morning we head to Colorado to spend three days exploring conservative (Colorado Springs) and liberal (Denver and Boulder) strongholds in a politically purple state. Mitt Romney has the GOP nomination momentum and is likely to do well in Nevada, but on Tuesday Colorado joins Minnesota and Missouri in voting, so it’s a test of whether Romney can cement national support.

We plan to attend former National Association of Evangelical president Ted Haggard’s new church, which began in a barn after his fall from grace following a sex scandal, and his former church, which meets in a building the size of an airplane hangar. We are set to talk to Air Force Academy cadets and other military members who populate the region. We will hear what Latino Republicans think about their candidates. We want to know what the Obama campaign is doing in this crucial swing state. And we won’t be stunned if we see Tim Tebow somewhere on the campaign trail.

On Tuesday evening we’ll be tweeting results and commentary from various points up and down Interstate 25, which runs from the border of New Mexico to Wyoming, smack through Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver, and alongside Boulder, Loveland, and Fort Collins. We’ll probably sing a particular John Denver song while we’re at it.

Please join us here for our posts. Crazy? Maybe. Compelling? Absolutely.

Continue after the fold for some scene-setting information on Nevada. We’ll provide similar context for Colorado on Sunday morning when we catch our breath.

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Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, Caucuses, caucuses

January 29, 2012 at 7:30 AM

Herman Cain's endorsement of Newt Gingrich makes it Establishment vs. Tea Party

The Herman Cain — as he’s known on Twitter, Facebook, and around the web — endorsed Newt Gingrich last night in West Palm Beach, Florida. It’s likely too little, too late for the Florida primary, which tallies all votes on Tuesday but has allowed early voting since Jan. 21. Several polls show Mitt…

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Comments | Topics: Colorado, Election 2012, Endorsement

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