Frazier top lines CD 7 assembly, Sias close behind

By Jimy Valenti
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

If the number of campaign signs lining the road into the Jefferson County Fairgrounds were indicative of the Republican 7th Congressional District assembly winner, then Ryan Frazier would have run away with a landslide victory. That may have been the case had it not been for Lang Sias who went from long shot to serious contender in the course of the last few months.

GOP State Chairman Dick Wadhams introduces CD 7 candidate Ryan Frazier during the state assembly two days later.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

Frazier’s supporters lingered in the late afternoon sun eating hotdogs grilled by the two-term Aurora City Councilman’s campaign before the start of the assembly Thursday night.

“Republicans eat real beef,” said one Frazier campaign volunteer. “None of that liberal tofu stuff here!”

Across the parking lot donning bright red t-shirts, Sias supporters encircled the candidate unheard of just a few short months ago, snapping photos and bestowing words of encouragement to the Fed Ex pilot and former John McCain staffer.

Holding a ‘Sias for Congress’ sign and dressed in a flashy white suit and large white sunglasses, Jimmy Lakey stood out from the crowd of supporters. The conservative radio personality dropped out of the congressional race last March and immediately endorsed Sias’ candidacy. Lakey said Sias will ensure that his son’s citizenship is worth the same in 20 years as it is now.

“Lang and I have different styles,” Lakey said. “Once, while campaigning, he called me flashy and flamboyant, but I really believe that Lang wants to go to D.C. for the same stinking reasons that I wanted to go.”

Former congressman Bob Beauprez, left, and candidate Lang Sias shake hands before the Republicans’ CD 7 Congressional Assembly on May 20 in Jefferson County.
Photo by Jamie Cotten/The Colorado Statesman

Mike Sheely’s copy of the U.S. Constitution protruded from his shirt pocket while he stood outside the fairground’s convention hall, shaking hands with many delegates already wearing a Sias or Frazier t-shirt. The Bennett school board member’s family clad in cowboy boots and ten-gallon hats, mingled on the lawn behind him. Sheely said his afternoon was going great until he was pressured by one of the candidates to drop out of the race.

“It’s part of the code of the West,” Sheely said. “You don’t quit something you started.”

Michael Deming was easy to miss. The engineer coyly greeted and talked with delegates holding Sias signs or wearing “I’m with Ryan’” buttons.

Inside the convention hall candidates for statewide races meandered up and down the aisles shaking hands with delegates in an effort to garner last minute support for the state assembly just two days later.

Ryan Razier addresses delegates at the GOP’s state assembly a couple days after receiving top line designation at the CD 7 assembly held at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

Fifth-time delegate G. Stanley, 77, from Arvada, wearing an ‘I’m with Ryan’ pin, was one of the first to sit down. Stanley said because Frazier lives in the district’s east side, an area Republicans always have trouble in, he believes Frazier can beat Democrat U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter. Stanley said Frazier’s experience fighting labor unions and the Democrats make him the best Republican candidate.

“I’m very confident that we’ll win this seat, because the guy we have now couldn’t find his way home in bright daylight,” Stanley said.

Nathan Hatcher, the 7th Congressional District Chair, gaveled the assembly to order echoing a common theme throughout the race.

“Tonight we will nominate someone to defeat Ed Pelosi-mutter,” said Hatcher comparing the incumbent Perlmutter to Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi.

Sheely was the first candidate nominated. Surrounded by his family, he opened his speech by recalling a dream where his two granddaughters appeared to him 20 years in the future. They asked him, “What did you do?” Sheely replied that he ran for Congress.

Campaigners for Lang Sais watch and cheer as the candidate speaks.
Photo by Jamie Cotten/The Colorado Statesman

The crowd roared for Sheely’s “back porch talk,” the name he gave his speaking style.

“I want you to know that I know what’s in this document,” said Sheely while holding up a copy of the U.S Constitution. “I will challenge Ed Perlmutter to defend it. Talk about somebody with stones, I’ve got some. I don’t back down from a fight and I don’t quit!”

If elected, Sheely said he would not cower in the face of Washington insiders.

“Who is gonna stand up for you?” asked Sheely. “Who is gonna spit in the eye of anybody who asks me to change my values. I aint gonna change ‘em! I am who I am!”

Deming’s nomination came next. He said he was the only candidate who would work hard to pull the U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan and get the country out of debt. He said nowhere in the Constitution does it call for the U.S. to police the world. These remarks were met with a cold response. The only applause he received was after he promised to abolish the I.R.S.

Campaigners for Lang Sais (center top) stand in support as the candidate speaks at the Republicans’ CD 7 Congressional Assembly on May 20 in Jefferson County.
Photo by Jamie Cotten/The Colorado Statesman

Beverly McAdams of Arvada nominated Frazier. She said she and her husband always voted, but were never politically active.

“Then Obama became president,” she said. “And I want my country back!”

Former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown and state Rep. Kevin Priola seconded Frazier’s nomination.

“I believe that Ryan Frazier is strong enough to stand up to special interests,” Brown said. “I believe Ryan Frazier can stand up to the ‘go along to get along’ philosophy dominating Washington.”

The Rocky III theme song Eye of the Tiger and nearly 40 screaming supporters ushered Frazier and his family to the stage.

“It’s time for Republicans to be Republicans again!” declared Frazier.

Frazier said that he is the only candidate ready to challenge Perlmutter. He said his 2,000 volunteers have already made 30,000 phone calls and that 97 percent of his donors are from Colorado.

Along with the other candidates, Frazier positioned himself as a Washington outsider. And reiterated his campaign’s theme of “a new way forward.”

“We as Republicans cannot afford to send more of the same to Washington,” he said. “I’m not more of the same!”

He laid out plans to improve the economy, to reform immigration and to fight terrorism abroad.

“We need folks in Congress who will look at the bailouts and say no, who will look at Obama-care and say no, who will look at cap and trade and say no!” Frazier said. “But it’s not enough to just say no, we need a voice that will offer better solutions based on free-markets, self-government and personal responsibility.”

Fifty-nine-year-old Lee Lusk from Golden cheered loudly when it was time for Sias’ nomination. Lusk said Sias and Frazier are both good candidates who would reduce spending, secure the borders and limit government, but Lusk said his turning point was Sias’ powerful endorsements.

Sias showcased these heavyweight endorsements by having six-time former Aurora Mayor Paul Tauer, former CD 6 Rep. Tom Tancredo and former CD 7 Rep. Bob Beauprez nominate him.

Tauer said that he knows how to win in Aurora and knows Sias has what it takes. When Tancredo took the stage to second Sias’ nomination he received one of the longest standing ovations of the evening.

“I love primary season,” Tancredo said. “This time of year everyone sounds like Ronald Reagan, but once the election moves forward, who knows what you’ll hear? I did a gut check and I picked Lang Sias.”

Sias’ 23-year military career where he served in both Iraq conflicts and as a Topgun instructor has been a focus of his campaign from the start. His Web site features a large photo of him smiling in an Apache helicopter and delegates routinely cite his military career as their reason to support him.

Sias opened his speech with a story from his time in Iraq. He said a solider coming out of surgery reached up, grabbed his arm and pulled him down. The solider said, “Major Sias, please help me get back to my guys.” Sias said he wondered what Washington would look like if politicians had that soldier’s same attitude and passion towards service.

“I want you to come on a mission with me to rebuild this economy the right way with a balanced budget, a strong private sector, and most of all I want you to come with me to secure our borders, secure our borders, secure our borders,” Sias said.

As the votes were being tallied U.S. Senate Candidates Ken Buck and Jane Norton, State Treasurer candidates J.J. Ament and Ali Hasan, and Secretary of State candidate Scott Gessler addressed the crowd.

Then the results of 355 delegate votes were announced. Deming and Sheely failed to get the required 30 percent to make the ballot and failed to reach the ten percent threshold required to petition onto the ballot. Deming received one vote and Sheely received 29 votes, or 8 percent.

Deming said he was not disappointed and now he has more time for his children. Sheely said he can now go on a trail ride up in the hills.

Sias and Frazier both earned enough support to qualify for an August primary. Sias received 154 votes or 43 percent, and Frazier received top line on the primary ballot with 171 votes or 48 percent.

Frazier and Sias embraced on stage after the results were announced. Frazier saluted the crowd as Hatcher held up both men’s fists like they were two prizefighters who just won the heavyweight title.

“We came here with two goals: make the ballot and make top line,” Frazier said. “We did both those things. Now we get ready for a spirited and vibrant primary. This is good for our party and I’m excited to be apart of it.”

Sheely officially endorsed Sias after the assembly. Sias said he wished the endorsement came earlier. According to Sias, if Sheely had dropped out and endorsed him before the assembly, he would have won top line with 51 percent of the vote.

Both Sias and Frazier said a primary will not hurt their chances to defeat Perlmutter. Sias said the competition will only make him stronger and Frazier said as long as both of them stay positive and focus on the issues then a primary will not hurt Republicans in the November election.

Sias has a long way to go in order to catch up with Frazier’s fundraising totals. Sias raised $110,201 through the first quarter of the year. Frazier, who first ran for U.S. Senate before switching to this race last October, has raised $668,427. 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.

Beauprez said making the primary ballot is a huge credibility step for Sias that will help him to raise money. Beauprez is confident he and Tancredo will be able to raise enough for Sias to compete with Frazier in the primary.

Jayne Schindler, 65, from Brighton, jumped for joy after learning Sias made the ballot. She said Sias would not be changed by Washington politics.

“How can I trust him?” asked Schindler. “How couldn’t I trust a military man?”

Jimy@coloradostatesman.com