Letters to the Editor

Let’s stick to the facts: Crank-Rayburn poll was deeply flawed

Dear Editor,

In an earlier edition of The Statesman, Leslie Jorgensen wrote a lengthy article — three entire pages — on a polling agreement made between Major General Bentley Rayburn and Mr. Jeff Crank. That article portrayed one campaign’s side of the story. In the best interest of accuracy and in light of a recent statement from the poll sponsor, the Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association, which stated, “… the implementation and the process for this effort were flawed so we agreed that the [problems] … invalidated any agreement …,” here are the facts.

In late April the HBA approached both parties suggesting an arrangement to determine which candidate should face Doug Lamborn in the upcoming 5th Congressional District primary. After much negotiation, an agreement was reached. The agreement stipulated the following: 400 Republican Primary voters would be polled on the evenings of the 27, 28 and 29 of May. Although the agreement was not signed until the afternoon of May 28, both teams were assured by the vendor, Western Watts (a data collection company suggested by the Crank campaign’s polling company, David Hill Research) that the calls could be accomplished.

On Friday, May 30, following the District Assembly, though we were expecting to receive the results of the poll, the Rayburn campaign was notified that only 106 calls were made by the deadline of the agreement. Both campaigns agreed to suspend the polling and re-evaluate the situation the following week. On Saturday, the Rayburn campaign was contacted by a voter who had received a polling call earlier that day, in violation of the agreement. When Western Watts was questioned about the apparent polling calls, the Rayburn campaign was repeatedly assured that no calls had been made over the weekend. Discussions then continued on Tuesday and Wednesday about the resumption of polling, with reassurances that, again, no polling had been conducted over the weekend.

On Wednesday afternoon, the decision was made to resume polling on Wednesday night. Later that evening, and after the Rayburn campaign had agreed to a resumption of the polling, a HBA representative notified the campaign that — contrary to what they had been told — polling had indeed been conducted over the weekend in clear violation of the earlier agreement not to do so. The Rayburn campaign raised their serious concerns about the conduct of the poll to this point with the HBA.

On Thursday morning, the HBA again notified the Rayburn campaign that “someone” had told Western Watts to poll up to 600 voters. When asked for an explanation, the Rayburn campaign was told that David Hill Research had unilaterally authorized extra calls to be placed without proper authorization. At that point — and before any results were compiled or released — the Rayburn campaign notified the HBA that they had completely lost confidence in the administration of the poll and considered the original agreement to be voided. The HBA agreed.

The following Tuesday, the HBA conducted a Political Action Committee board meeting where the poll was discussed. At that time, the HBA notified both campaigns that it considered the poll to be HBA property and that the results were not to be released by either campaign. On June 24, the HBA released a press release that said in part, “Unfortunately, the implementation and the process for this effort were flawed, so we agreed that the results of our efforts and the problems in its implementation invalidated any agreement that had previously been in place.”

It was extremely unfortunate that General Rayburn’s integrity was called into question over an agreement that clearly had not been fulfilled. Those who have served with General Rayburn over his 31-year military career can attest to his integrity, his character and his leadership, which is so desperately needed in this state and our country.

Subsequently, the Rayburn campaign has moved forward with its positive message of experienced and proven leadership, relying on scientific polling data gathered earlier that maps out a path to victory. The feedback from voters in the 5th District tell us that certainly Major General Rayburn is a great match for the 5th Congressional District with its five major military installations and large veteran population. The voters seem to understand that our country at war needs more military experience in Congress, which currently has the smallest number of members with military experience since before WWII. The fact that he is not a lawyer, lobbyist or professional politician is also very attractive to the voters in the 5th District.

Mike Hesse
Campaign Manager
Rayburn for Congress