El Paso County GOP goes surfin' USA

Republicans swarmed to the El Paso County GOP’s beach party and caught the political wave in singing and surfboard-riding contests backed by Beach Boys’ tunes played by the Kahuna Beach Party Band.

“Surfing USA” dude? Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Landlocked Colorado Springs, practices his moves for the surfing to music contest last weekend.
Photo by Tatianna Gruen/The Colorado Statesman

More than 200 Gidgets and Moondoggies attended the May 30 beach party at the El Paso County Fairgrounds in Calhan. Statewide GOP candidates cruised for votes, gave speeches and tested their popularity in a straw poll.

Courting votes were U.S. Senate candidates Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, and businessmen Cleve Tidwell, of Denver, and Mark Van Wyk, of Castle Rock. Also on the prowl for supporters were GOP gov candidates Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, and Evergreen businessman Dan Maes, Scott Gessler, candidate for secretary of state, and Walker Stapleton, candidate for treasurer.

The U.S. Senate straw poll results were: Frazier, 43 percent; Buck, 39 percent; Tidwell, 13 percent; Van Wyk, four percent, and KHOW talk radio host and attorney Dan Caplis, one percent. That adds up to 100 percent, leaving no percents for former 7th District Congressman Bob Beauprez, a possible contender whose name also was on the ballot.

“Tax-Us Ritter” message from Republican Reps. Mark Waller, left, Marsha Looper, Kent Lambert, Amy Stephens and Sen. Bill Cadman.
Photo by Tatianna Gruen/The Colorado Statesman

More surprising were poll results in the governor’s race: former Congressman Scott McInnis received 64 percent of the votes, despite being absent from the beach party. Penry captured 35 percent and Maes, one percent. Candidate Brian Watson, like Beauprez, was listed on the ballot but didn’t show up in the results.

If there had been a contest for best-dressed surfer dude, the award would have gone to Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs. Instead of his typically conservative hairstyle and suit, Lambert sported wind-blown hair and wore sandals, baggies and a T-shirt.

The crowd laughed hysterically when Lambert donned a knit cap and dreadlocks, kicked off his sandals and gyrated on a surfboard.

Rivaling Lambert’s catch-the-wave showstopper was Buddy Gilmore, director of the party’s fundraisers, who belted out “Surfin’ USA.”

Republican Reps. Mark Waller, of the Springs, and Amy Stephens, of Monument, took first and second prizes, respectively, in the chili cook-off.

Does a kiss come with a lei? Rep. Mark Waller watches state Board of Education member Peggy Littleton give an “Aloha” welcome to El Paso County Commissioner Jim Bensberg.
Photo by Tatianna Gruen/The Colorado Statesman

What’s the secret of Waller’s winning concoction?

“My wife!” exclaimed Waller, who asked the crowd to thank Jennifer Waller.

Peggy Littleton, a member of the State Board of Education and candidate for the El Paso County Board of Commissioners, asserted that the secret ingredients were beer in Waller’s chili and bourbon in Stephens’ dish.

In addition to chili, the cookout menu included soda pop, chips, barbecued pork, hot dogs and hamburgers. The grill was supervised by Lynn Looper, husband of Rep. Marsha Looper.

Before introducing the candidates vying for the party nomination to challenge Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter in 2010, a group of Republican lawmakers conveyed a message to the incumbent.

“Tax-Us Ritter” was printed above a caricature of the governor on a banner held by Republican Reps. Lambert, Looper, Stephens and Waller, and Sen. Bill Cadman, of Colorado Springs.