Challengers lining up for Colorado’s new Congress members |

Challengers lining up for Colorado’s new Congress members

Kristen Wyatt
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Colorado’s two newest members of Congress haven’t even started freshman orientation on Capitol Hill, but they already have challengers for the 2010 election.

In suburban Denver’s 6th District, GOP Representative-elect Mike Coffman had less than 24 hours to savor his win before David Canter, a lawyer and a Democrat, filed papers to run in two years.

In northern and eastern Colorado’s 4th District, where Democrat Betsy Markey knocked off three-term Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, several GOP officials have indicated they might run for a seat that had been in Republican hands for 36 years.

It used to be a joke that members of the U.S. House are always campaigning because they face voters every two years. Now it’s reality.

“You’ve got to hit the ground running,” said Canter, a Highlands Ranch lawyer who filed his candidacy on Nov. 5, the morning after Coffman was elected to succeed retiring Rep. Tom Tancredo.

The district has been held by Republicans since its creation in 1972. So Canter figured an early start wouldn’t hurt.

“The earlier we get in, the greater the likelihood we could raise the funds we think are necessary to get our message out,” Canter said.

No one has filed election papers in the 4th District, but at least three Republicans say they’re considering it.

“Running for office is a tremendous undertaking,” said one of them, state Sen. Greg Brophy of Wray.

Another, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, said it’s understandable why the 4th District is attracting a lot of GOP interest. Though Markey won Weld County, the county also voted for John McCain for president and is considered friendly territory for Republican candidates.

Also thinking about challenging Markey is Republican state Rep. Cory Gardner of Yuma, who’s already talking like Markey’s campaign opponent.

“The 4th Congressional District is a conservative district that will no longer be represented by a conservative,” Gardner said.

Why so early? It’s not cheap to run for Congress. Challengers face months of fundraising and handshaking before they can even be considered serious contenders.

Brophy explained challengers need to talk over the possibility with family and employers. Then they must float the idea by political activists and local officials whose support they’ll need. Then comes the actual fundraising.

“To run for Congress these days, you have to be prepared to raise about $200,000 in your first quarter” or risk becoming a long-shot candidate who can be ignored, Brophy said. “You don’t run for office and then decide if you have the resources.”

What did the future incumbents have to say? Neither could be reached Friday, possibly because they’re busy preparing for orientation next week. New House members haven’t learned yet where their offices will be.

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