By Jimi Valenti
THE COLORADO STATESMAN
Once a shoe-in for the Republican Party’s nomination to challenge CD 7 Democratic incumbent Ed Perlmutter, Ryan Frazier may have someone to worry about. Lang Sias just picked up a significant endorsement while his fundraising continues to improve.
Four Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination in the 7th CD, which covers all or parts of Arapahoe, Adams and Jefferson counties.
Two-term Aurora City Councilman and military veteran Ryan Frazier, Navy veteran, Fed-Ex pilot and former John McCain staffer Lang Sias, Bennett school board member and self proclaimed cowboy Mike Sheely, and engineer Michael Deming are competing for at least 30 percent delegate support at the May 20 7th Congressional Assembly, which would get their name onto the August Primary ballot.
Two Republican Colorado congressmen — one current, the other former — recently picked sides in the battle. Mike Coffman, R-CD 6, threw his support to Frazier while Bob Beauprez, the former two-term representative for CD 7, endorsed Sias.
“Congress is full of overly self-impressed, unprincipled people obsessed with the title and trappings of the office,” Beauprez said in a statement endorsing Sias. “Lang has already achieved more than enough titles, promotions, and awards. He’s a grown-up. He knows who he is and what he believes in. He actually wants to go to Congress to serve us — not himself.”
Sias said he treats potential endorsers the same way he courts delegates: sitting down and discussing the issues. Sias has been spending upwards of three hours a day discussing issues with delegates in their homes. Former Aurora Mayor Paul Tauer, former CD 6 Representative Tom Tancredo and Arizona Senator John McCain have joined Beauprez in his endorsement of Sias.
“He’s the only Republican in this race who has the proven ability to earn Coloradans’ financial support, and he is the right candidate to take on the special interests and tax-and-spend liberals in Washington,” Coffman said in statement endorsing Frazier.
Frazier said his grassroots support throughout the district, as well as support from numerous elected officials across the state, puts him in good shape in the intra-party race. Coffman joins former Governor Bill Owens, former U.S. Senator Hank Brown, Attorney General John Suthers and State Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, along with 20 state legislators, in his endorsement of Frazier.
Frazier, who first ran for U.S. Senate before switching to this race last October, has raised more than any other Republican candidate in the race, with $668,427 through the first quarter of the year. Sias came in second with $110,201. Deming reported $590 and Sheely did not file a report with the Federal Election Commission because he had not raised the minimum $5,000 threshold. Still no Republican is close to Perlmutter’s war chest of $1,250,801 cash on hand, though Frazier comes the closest with $378,628.
Sheely said relying on a candidate’s bank account instead of their ideals is what’s wrong with politics.
“If one candidate has ten times the amount of money automatically, in political speak, that is the number one candidate,” Sheely said. “That’s the only one anybody wants to talk about. Nobody considers me a serious candidate. I am dead serious.”
Sheely decided early on in his campaign not to solicit funds. He said he is committed to the assembly process and will not attempt to petition onto the ballot if he can’t convince roughly 150 delegates that he is right man for the job. Sheely said the defeat of three-term Utah Republican Senator Bob Bennett gives him hope. If he does not secure a spot on the primary ballot he said he has a CD 7 candidate in mind to endorse, but would not share his name.
Frazier said he has been speaking with as many delegates as possible and will continue knocking on doors and making phone calls right up until the congressional assembly. He said signs are
increasingly telling him that he has a great opportunity to defeat Perlmutter.
Frazier, however recently encountered a stumbling block. The Denver Post reported on May 8 that Frazier had the worst attendance record of any of the 10 city council members from May 2006 through April 2010. The story said Frazier missed 16 council meetings and 12 executive sessions out of 100 meetings during that time. Frazier said what the story missed was the fact that he did attend city council meetings more than 85 percent of the time.
Frazier said this has not affected his campaign because people realize that he had to miss meetings in order to support his family.
“Most people understand that I have had to work,” Frazier said. “City council is not a full time position and I have to provide for my family.”
Sheely said Frazier’s attendance record is a non-issue. He said he knew about it for months, but said the real issue is finding a Republican who has the stones to call it like it is and take back Washington.
According to Sias, Frazier’s attendance record is a legitimate subject for discussion. He said the voters want to know if a representative paid by the taxpayers is giving voters their money’s worth.
Two days before the Jefferson and Arapahoe county assemblies e-mails were sent to Republicans in the district, including delegates and Beauprez, that said the Navy had once charged someone named Sias with rape. Lang Sias proved he was not involved in the case and released his U.S. Navy fitness reports that provided countless positive officer reviews during his time in the Navy.
Sias said he is confident going into this week’s Congressional Assembly. Sias garnered 48 percent in a four-way straw poll following a CD 7 candidate forum on Tuesday sponsored by the Colorado School of Mines College Republicans. Frazier came in second with 41 percent. Sheely garnered nine percent and Deming two percent.
“In any organization that I’ve been in I may not have started off as the most charismatic guy, but over time I usually wind up in some sort of leadership position,” Sias said. “It just kind of happens. I have had a lot of faith in that in this process, as well.”
Deming was unavailable for comment and did not return multiple phone calls.