A newly elected Republican state representative is drawing enough criticism and ridicule that he may hurt the Republican Party in Colorado, say political observers in the state.
Gordon Klingenschmitt cruised to victory November 4 in heavily Republican Colorado Springs, where his Democratic opponent had essentially no chance to win, despite widely publicized comments from Klingenschmitt during the campaign that might have turned away voters in a more competitive district.
Bizarre video clips and quotes from Klingenschmitt, mostly from web-based “Pray in the Name of Jesus Ministries,” have been spotlighted by local and national reporters since the former Navy chaplain, who calls himself “Dr. Chaps,” prevailed by a 3,472-to-3,128 margin in the June Republican primary over more moderate Republican Dave Williams.
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Klingenschmitt airs a regular “Prayer in Jesus News” show in which he frequently addresses abortion and reproductive health issues. In an April episode, he described GOP Sen. Rand Paul as his “friend,” and the activist chaplain said:
Abortion is always deadly, even if the mother doesn’t commit suicide later on. And we discern a demonic spirit of guilt and murder and self-murder and self-hatred and everything that arises out of [abortion]. And the left-wing politicians want [women] to kill their babies. …There is hope. There is forgiveness. If you’ve had an abortion, you can be forgiven. God loves you. And we want to proclaim the love and forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ. That’s the only solution to the grief that you feel. And the guilt and depression can be wiped away through forgiveness.
“If he continues to be outspoken and takes very conservative positions on social issues such as abortion and gay and lesbian rights, he probably will be damaging to the Republican Party,” said Bob Loevy, political science professor emeritus at Colorado College, located in Colorado Springs. “Assuming far-right positions on social issues simply has not worked for the Republican Party in Colorado. Astute political observers have known that for a long time. But we’ll have to see how he behaves when he gets to the legislature.”
Klingenschmitt, who takes office next month, did not return emails or calls seeking comment for this article.
Colorado Republicans took a U.S. Senate seat, as well as control of the state senate, from Democrats on Election Day. But in doing so, many Republican candidates in competitive districts disavowed extreme positions on social issues they had taken in recent years.
In a YouTube video and biography posted on his website, Klingenschmitt outlines his career starting as an Air Force Academy graduate and continuing through his court martial by the Navy for disobeying prayer guidelines and, later, his honorable discharge. His disputes with the Navy led to the formation of his web-based ministry and his life as an “activist,” Klingenschmitt explains in his video.
“My story proves, perhaps, if there is one thing. That is, if one person will stand up for Jesus, that together we can wake up a nation,” Klingenschmitt said in the video.
We can reclaim our government. We can reclaim our children. We can reclaim our nation. We can take back territory from the devil. And I wonder, what can you do? Do we have any activists in this crowd? If the government came to you and threatened to take away your job and your pension and your home, if you wouldn’t just deny the name of Jesus. Would anyone stand up for Jesus with me and take back our government and take back our nation? Let’s pray for a revival in America and for standing with me as I stand with Jesus Christ.
Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert said last week that Klingenschmitt’s campaign was “reminiscent of the positive campaign the villagers ran to elect Frankenstein.”
Klingenschmitt has promised to respect the rights of his Colorado Springs constituents. He told the Colorado Springs Gazette, “I love the people of my district, I love the people of Colorado and I love America. I will defend everybody’s First Amendment rights, and I have a track record of doing that.”