Acrimony lingers in Merrifield win

       A few days ago, Michael Merrifield was embroiled in sign-removal accusations that triggered national notoriety for him and his wife and uncertainty about how it would affect his re-election for District 18 state representative.
       And the effect was?... None at all. The Democrat incumbent won by a decisive margin over Republican challenger Kent Lambert in the Nov. 2 voting, and has since been awarded chairmanship of the Colorado Legislature's Education Committee as a result of the Democrats having won a Statehouse majority.
       He's looking forward to that leadership position. “Thirty years in a classroom gives me a sense of what really works,” said Merrifield, a former teacher, adding the contention that his Republican predecessor “had not set foot in a classroom.”
       The bitterly fought District 18 election, which included negative campaigning on both sides - but not, for the most part, from the candidates themselves - ended without hearts and flowers. Merrifield said Dan Stuart, the Republican he beat by just 112 votes in 2002, had been a “stronger opponent” than Lambert, who, the Manitou Springs resident said, “has done nothing for the community and has no past history of service.”
       Merrifield said he felt he had run a “positive campaign,” and that his 55 percent victory came from people seeing that “I've been working hard and I'm very accessible.”
       Lambert, a retired Air Force colonel who had been serving overseas until this year, said he disagreed about the “positive campaign” comment. He felt he had been especially damaged by “527” campaign ads (the number refers to an IRS code that makes it easier for unofficial political groups to advertise) that he said falsely represented his health positions.
       He also remained disappointed about Merrifield's responses to the sign-removal revelations - in part that the Republicans had been overblowing the incident (where his wife was caught on camera removing Republican signs in front of some townhomes) as an excuse to attack him. “He could have handled that better,” Lambert said, adding that it reflected a “nationwide pattern (by Democrats) of lack of respect for law.”
       Merrifield has had a continuing feud with Keith King, an incumbent Republican state representative who ran unopposed for District 21. The district includes the northern part of the Westside. King, a Cheyenne resident, was positioned to be speaker of the house, but that honor will fall to Andrew Romanoff (D-Denver) because of the Democrat majority.
       “At least I'll have more than a decent chance now of getting my bills through committee,” Merrifield said.

Westside Pioneer Article