Colorado Congressional District 5 Race: Lamborn, Plowright And McRedmond On The Issues

Photo: Plowright, Lamborn, McRedmond
From left: Democrat Misty Plowright, Republican incumbent Doug Lamborn and Libertarian Mike McRedmond.

Libertarian Mike McRedmond and Democrat Misty Plowright are challenging incumbent Republican Doug Lamborn in Colorado's Fifth Congressional District.

The district covers Colorado Springs, surrounding suburbs, and areas west including Salida and Buena Vista in the Arkansas River Valley.

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As of June 30, the Lamborn campaign had raised nearly $480,000. Plowright had collected $2,495 and McRedmond $0. Updated figures are due from the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 15.

Plowright and McRedmond answered the following questions about issues they may face. The Lamborn campaign decline to complete CPR's questionnaire. His positions are comprised of previous statements and news coverage that CPR News has compiled.

What areas of federal spending should be increased? What should be cut?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"Huge investment in infrastructure. Eliminate "use it or lose it" budgetary practices."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)In response to CPR's 2014 questionnaire, Lamborn said defense spending should be protected. He also called for reform to entitle spending programs, "to remove waste, fraud and abuse" and make them sustainable.
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"Congress spends too much. Cut spending."
Do you support the Paris climate change deal that the U.S. agreed to in 2015? Why or why not?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"More needs to be done. We need to completely rework our entire energy approach without destroying companies, towns, and people who rely on our current energy systems."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)Lamborn co-sponsored a bill that would have required President Obama get approval from the Republican-controlled Senate before agreeing to the Paris climate change deal. In a 2014 statement to CPR, Lamborn said he opposed government regulations designed to "curb the possibility of climate change hundreds of years in the future."
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"No, a one degree change in the next century time is not worthy of a wholesale change in our lifestyles."
What is the one thing the federal government could do that would have the biggest positive impact on Colorado's economy?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"High speed internet infrastructure investment."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)"The federal government should help create the most business-friendly tax and regulatory climate possible," Lamborn told CPR in 2014.
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"Cut federal departments. Let stay keep the money to spend as they see fit."
How should the federal government balance the need for affordable energy with its stated goal of shifting to higher-cost renewable sources?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"Shift fossil fuel subsidies and tax advantages to renewables."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)

Lamborn, while not totally opposed to renewable energy forms, generally supports the continued production of fossil fuels and coal to keep energy costs low.

Lamborn called wind power "one of the most expensive and least efficient forms of energy" in a 2012 op-ed that decried the federal government's tax credit for wind producers. However, he's also said he supports wind as a part of an "all-of-the-above energy plan" -- just without federal tax breaks.

Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"Federal should not be the business of setting energy policy."
Should western states, including Colorado, assume control of federally owned land? (See here for a good explanation of this issue.) Why or why not?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"No. In many cases the states do not have the resources to manage the land. I would however, like to see the Homestead Act make a return, though we still need to retain public lands availability for recreation and public use."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)

Lamborn voted for a bill in June 2016 that would direct the Forest Service to sell portions of national forest land to states, to be used for timber production.

Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"Absolutely, the land belongs to the states."
What are one or two changes you would like to see to federal gun laws?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"Universal background checks (no cost to consumers/sellers) & instant checks accessible online."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)Lamborn says he is "unwavering" in his support for the right to keep and bear arms.
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"Constitutional Carry."
Do you want to keep the Affordable Care Act and possibly make minor changes, overhaul it, or eliminate it? Please explain.
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"Replace in it's entirety. I'd like to see it replaced by a Medicare for all style system."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)

Lamborn supports repealing Obamacare and a replacement that would:

  • Encourage competition in the marketplace to reduce healthcare costs
  • Allow families to deduct healthcare costs from their taxable income
  • Create common-sense medical malpractice reform
  • Expand access to health savings accounts
  • Safeguard individuals with pre-existing conditions
  • Prohibit taxpayer money from paying for abortions
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"Eliminate it, Ease government regulations and increase competition by allowing purchase of health insurance across state borders."
College has become unaffordable for many Americans. What would you do to make it more affordable?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"Eliminate tuition & most fees at all public colleges and universities."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)Lamborn supports reforms to the 529 plan, which allows families to save for future college costs tax-free. He also co-sponsored a bill that would make college more affordable for Native Americans.
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"Anything that is subsidized increases in price. End college subsidies."
Should the federal government play any role in making housing more affordable in places like Colorado? If so, what should it do?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"This is a large part of the reason I would like to see the Homestead Act to make a return. Beyond that, I think Land Trusts are something that should be investigated for feasibility and cost."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)[CPR couldn't find any public comment from Lamborn on this issue.]
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"No, to make housing more affordable is as simple as changing zoning laws."
Do you believe adults who came to this country illegally should have a path to citizenship? Why or why not?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"If they have been working and have not committed a violent crime, yes. The bar for coming to this country legally is extremely high and often only available to those with connections or the money to buy their way in. Most here illegally came in legally and simply overstayed their visas."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)"I do not support amnesty of any kind," Lamborn said in 2014. "We must do everything possible to secure our borders before even considering extending blanket amnesty."
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"I believe in issuing work visas. This would eliminate calling people illegal."
What should the federal government do to address growing income inequality in America, and in Colorado?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"Invest in education and jobs programs (like infrastructure), create incentives for companies to create decent jobs here in the US and penalize companies that shift jobs overseas or evade taxes."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)"The best way to fight inequality is to make sure that the federal government works hard to ensure equality of opportunity. The federal government should not go from industry to industry picking winners and losers. I believe that the American people, when given a level playing field, achieve and succeed at improving their lives," Lamborn told CPR in 2014.
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"Simplify the tax code so that everyone can understand it."
Do you think the federal government ceded too much power to the states in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind? Why or why not?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"There should be specific standards that schools must meet, however localities and teachers should have the freedom to tailor curriculums to meet the needs of their students."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)Lamborn says he supports limiting the role of the federal government in classrooms in favor of localized, state-led systems. He supported the House's Student Success Act, but voted against the Senate's Every Student Succeeds Act that eventually became law in 2015. The Heritage Foundation said the Senate bill was a "retreat" from the conservative ideals in the House bill.
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"Education is solely a state responsibility. Not a federal one."
If elected or re-elected, what one piece of legislation would you focus on?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"I don't think I've ever been able to focus on ONE thing in my entire life. One of my top priorities however, is to end the deportation of veterans and bring deported veterans home. A simple piece of legislation that simply states anyone who has served honorably in our armed services automatically becomes a citizen and if they have been deported we will buy them a ticket home."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)[CPR couldn't find any public comment from Lamborn on this issue.]
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"Improve or replace the veterans administration. We need to think of out of the box solutions to fix an inadequate VA system."
Should marijuana be legalized across the country? Why or why not?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"Yes. Prohibition doesn't work, regardless what it is for. Legalize, regulate, and tax it. That eliminates the black market, organized crime around it, and provides new revenue streams. Additionally it creates new jobs, new industries, and new possibilities for medical research as well as making things safer for those who choose to consume (not to mention everyone else from reduction in crime)."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)"No," was Lamborn's one-word reply to the same question in 2014. More recently, Lamborn voted against a bill that would allow VA doctors to discuss medical marijuna with patients in states where it is legal.
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"Yes. I believe in self ownership."
What should the federal government do to improve the long-term financial viability of Medicare and Social Security?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"For social security eliminate the pay in cap. Additionally treat capital gains (except those in retirement and pension accounts) the same as income earned via labor. Expand Medicare to cover everyone and allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies.The increased pool of users and reduced administration and drug costs will keep it solvent."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)"Wasteful entitlement spending must be reformed so that we can ensure that these programs are solvent and stable for the people who truly need and depend on them," Lamborn said in 2014.
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"The government can not be trusted to hold the people's money in a lock box. I think the government should look in to buying out social security and paying out this money to the people owed. Eventually ending the program."
Do you support raising the federal minimum wage? Why, or why not?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"Yes, however the actual number should be determined based on regional/local cost of living or median wage. Arbitrary numbers don't work. Additionally, assistance should be given to small businesses so they don't get crushed by increased labor costs. Large companies paying wages so low that their employees must rely on public assistance should be charged for every dollar taxpayers have spent supporting their employees."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)"No. The CBO has estimated that this will cause 500,000 Americans to lose their jobs. Some employers simply won't be able to pay the higher wages and will have to let people go," Lamborn said in 2014.
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"No. The government does belong in the conversation between two consenting adults Raising the minimum wage kills jobs."
What changes should be made to the federal tax code?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"Simplified. Labor and investment income treated the same. Eliminate most deductions."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)Lamborn supports a flatter and more simplified tax code.
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"The tax code is over 73,000 pages. This complexity promotes corruption. Simplify the tax code to eliminate the influence of lobbyist and special interests."
What can Congress do to ensure timely medical care for veterans?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"Provide 100% coverage for all veterans to see anyone they wish. A system similar to Tri-Care, but for life & 100% coverage."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)Lamborn called for the Department of Veterans Affairs to "embrace the private sector" to try to address long wait times or enhance access to care, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported in March.
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"Thinking out of the box, eliminate the VA and give war veterans a government paid credit card so they can get the care needed when they need it."
The U.S. has admitted far fewer Syrian refugees than other countries. And President Obama has limited the American military's role in the Syrian civil war to an air campaign against ISIS. What should be America's role in Syria?
Misty Plowright (Democrat)

"We need to end our disastrous habit of trying to create puppet governments in the Middle East and toppling regimes we don't like. Syria is little more than a proxy war with Russia, and one that has completely destabilized the entire region and allowed ISIS to grow stronger. It's time to cut our losses. Let the people of that region decide what is best for them instead of us. We should focus on our allies and our own country. At this point, however, it is only right that we send humanitarian aid to try to make up for some of the suffering and death we've caused."

Doug Lamborn (Republican)Lamborn said Colorado and the U.S. "must be very cautious" before accepting refugees from Syria. He's also been critical of what he calls President Obama's "inadequate strategy" regarding ISIS.
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"None. We need to end the wars now. After spending over $4 trillion in the middle east, spending another $4 trillion will not fix the problem."
Do you support or oppose legalized abortion? Are there any exceptions? Please explain.
Misty Plowright (Democrat)"I want a solution where all sides win. Invest in research and technology to get us to where we can terminate a pregnancy without terminating a fetus."
Doug Lamborn (Republican)Lamborn describes himself as pro-life. He's co-sponsored bills that would prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion.
Mike McRedmond (Libertarian)"Abortion should be a state issue not federal issue."