US Rep. Doug Lamborn will retire

· Jan. 5, 2024, 10:23 am
Doug LambornDoug LambornAP Photo
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., speaks during a House Committee on Natural Resources hearing on America's Energy and Mineral potential, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Colorado Springs Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn will retire at the end of this year. 

The Congressman, who has represented Colorado's 5th Congressional District for nine terms, made the announcement Friday morning on KVOR radio. 

In an interview with CPR News, he said a lot of thought went into the decision, including what he’s been able to get done over his career, like helping keep the Space Command headquarters in Colorado Springs

“That's the kind of thing that I feel like I've accomplished and can check off the list. And there's other things that I've accomplished. And I think it's now time to move on, let someone else have the opportunity,” he said. 

He added that with a year still left in office, he hopes to tick off a couple of more legislative priorities, focused mostly on his work as chair of the Strategic Forces subcommittee.

Lamborn added he will look for opportunities “to do good in the future” and spend more time with his family and thanked the people of El Paso county for opportunity to serve.

His retirement opens up another opportunity for Colorado Republican hopefuls in a reliably red district. Lamborn has faced primary challenges in the past, including last election from then-state Rep. Dave Williams, who is now chair of the Colorado Republican state party. 

The latest round of redistricting shrank Colorado’s 5th district from a multi-county seat to one just based in El Paso County. Past election data gives Republicans a 20 point advantage in the seat, making it Colorado’s second reddest district. Lamborn won his last race with 56 percent of the vote.

Lamborn, the longest serving Republican in the delegation, joins a list of almost 40 members of Congress who are stepping away, including GOP U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who represents the 4th congressional district. 

His move means there won’t be an incumbent running in any of Colorado’s three seats currently held by Republicans. In December, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert surprised political watchers by announcing she would not run again in her current district, but instead seek the seat being vacated by Buck.

“This is pretty strange,” said Cook Political Report senior editor David Wasserman. “It is almost as if tectonic plates are shifting underneath Colorado. This is a big year of change.”

In general though, this congress has seen a larger-than-normal number of retirement announcements, by both Democratic and Republican members, according to Wasserman. On the GOP side, he attributes that to the ongoing upheaval in the caucus, the inability to pass major policies and fears that Democrats could win back control of the House in the fall.

A career focused on military, and marked with controversies

Currently, Lamborn is the lone Coloradan on the House Armed Services Committee, which covers issues important to his military-heavy district and where he, along with the rest of the delegation, pushed to keep Space Command headquarters in Colorado Springs

In his retirement announcement, he pointed to work he did on that committee, from getting more than 200 provisions included in annual defense policy bills over the years to support for Israel. Among his other legislative accomplishments are the establishment of the Pikes Peak National Cemetery and getting land around the Manitou Incline officially designated for public use.

Lamborn also serves on the Natural Resources committee, along with Colorado Reps. Joe Neguse and Lauren Boebert.

Former Secretary of State Wayne Williams nominated Lamborn when he first ran and on Friday, wished him well in this next phase. 

From the creation of the Pikes Peak National Cemetery to securing Space Command, an ICE office, and improvements at our military bases, Rep. Lamborn has fought hard for our community and the security of our nation. I appreciate his dedication and service,” Williams said in a statement.

Lamborn's time in Congress was not without controversy. In 2011, he referred to then President Barack Obama as a “tar baby.” In 2013, he inadvertently read part of a classified report on North Korea’s nuclear capabilities during an open hearing. More recently, a former staffer sued Lamborn, alleging the congressman didn’t taking COVID-19 precautions seriously and had asked congressional staff to do personal tasks. The suit was settled.  Lamborn, along with Boebert, also voted against certifying the 2020 election results.

Lamborn was first elected to Congress in 2006, after former Rep. Joel Hefley announced his retirement. Prior to that, Lamborn served in the state legislature, first in the House of Representatives and later the Senate.

While the seat is likely to attract numerous Republican contenders with Lamborn out of the race, currently he is the only Republican who has filed to run in it. Five Democrats and three unaffiliated/minor party candidates are also in the race.

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