GOP primary heats up in Douglas County commissioner race

Supporters from both sides have slung accusations

Elliott Wenzler
ewenzler@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/16/20

The Republican primary for the District 2 Douglas County commissioner seat has developed into an intense race between Clint Dorris and George Teal, with accusations being hurled back and forth by the …

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GOP primary heats up in Douglas County commissioner race

Supporters from both sides have slung accusations

Posted

The Republican primary for the District 2 Douglas County commissioner seat has developed into an intense race between Clint Dorris and George Teal, with accusations being hurled back and forth by the candidates’ backers.

The GOP winner will face unopposed Democrat Lisa Neal-Graves in November’s general election. Ballots were being mailed to voters starting June 8.

Supporters of Dorris have accused Teal, a U.S. Army veteran, of lying about his military record.

In a letter to Castle Rock Mayor Jason Gray dated May 19, David Stone, state commander of the Colorado chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars, said Stone objected to Teal describing himself as “a veteran of Operation Desert Storm,” adding that Teal served in Germany during the operation. An email sent from the Veterans of Foreign Wars showing that it terminated Teal’s membership has circulated on social media.

Teal, a Castle Rock town council member, told Colorado Community Media that the accusations are a “smear campaign” that has been “blown out of proportion.”

Ryan Lynch, a spokesman for the Teal campaign, said the candidate has never lied about his military record.

“That is categorically unfounded,” Lynch said. “He’s never once said ‘I was in combat in Iraq.’ He does say he’s a veteran of Operation Desert Storm.”

Teal believes he has a medal that makes him eligible for the VFW but has not been able to access the appropriate records at the National Archives due to COVID-19 closures, Lynch said.

“We do not know if he was eligible for the VFW or if he wasn’t, but what we do know is that he never lied about it,” Lynch said. “There is no doubt that he served honorably for 10 years.”

Dorris, who received about two-thirds of the vote in the March 28 online Republican assembly, says the military accusation is an important part of the election because it calls into question his opponent’s honesty.

“It’s applicable here because if someone is lying to dishonor the military and themselves ... to elevate themselves, what does that say about them relative to running for county commissioner or being an elected official,” he said. 

However, Dorris calls Teal a friend and says he doesn’t see this election as being overly contentious.

“This is small-ball pettiness,” he said.

Lynch, a political strategest in the state, said he’s not surprised at the level of contention in the election.

“Primaries are often contentious but I’ve never seen one where there is a concentrated effort to smear an honorable veteran,” he said.

A group called the Campaign Integrity Watchdog, whose director Matt Arnold is the designated filing agent for the Teal campaign, has filed two complaints against Dorris in the election, according to the state’s campaign records. 

Both complaints claim that the Dorris campaign failed to include appropriate financial disclaimers on its website and in other materials. In the website complaint, the Elections Divisions of the Secretary of State’s Office recommended that it be dismissed. 

In the second case, alleging that the Dorris campaign didn’t disclose the finances behind a packet of materials handed out to delegates, the Elections Division filed a complaint with the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts. That case remained open as of press time, according to state campaign records.

“They have filed frivolous claims against me,” Dorris said of the complaints.

The Teal campaign has had three penalties for late filings of major contributor reports.

Roger Partridge, who currently holds the commissioner position, endorsed Dorris at the county assembly after watching him orchestrate the school safety committee that was formed following the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting on May 7, 2019, he said.

“He was a very active chair of the school safety committee and I saw how he operated himself and how he operated with others,” he said.

Partridge sees the contention within the election as run-of-the-mill.

“Both of them want it and short of calling each other names, that’s what you see as a common thing,” he said. “We also saw this this year with the Democratic presidential primary.”

According to finance reports submitted June 9, the Dorris campaign has so far raised about $12,700 and spent about $11,500. The Teal campaign has raised nearly $43,900 and spent about $51,000.

Elected county officials who donated to the Dorris campaign include Sheriff Tony Spurlock, Undersheriff Holly Nicholson-Kluth and Renee Anderson, a Highlands Ranch Metro District director.

State Rep. Kim Ransom, R-Acres Green, along with county Treasurer Dave Gill and Parker Councilmember Jeff Toborg, donated to the Teal campaign.

District 2 encompasses southern and western Douglas County, including Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Larkspur, Perry Park and Roxborough. (While they represent different parts of Douglas County, commissioners are elected at large.)

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