UPDATE: The Washington Post's Abby Ohlheiser keeps the national spotlight on "Dr. Chaps":
A Republican nominee for a Colorado statehouse seat responded to criticism on Monday over his claim that U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) would “join ISIS in beheading Christians.”
Gordon Klingenschmitt, a longtime conservative figure in the state, said in the video embedded below that the statement e-mailed to supporters was just “hyperbole” and that “some Democrats do not have a sense of humor” before offering up an apology to Polis…
In his apology video, Klingenschmitt maintained that he thought policies supported by Polis would “persecute” Christian business owners in the state, adding: “I would never compare you to the ISIS rebels who behead Christians, right? Of course, you would never go in for something like that.”
The state Republican party distanced itself from Klingenschmitt’s remarks, and not for the first time…
Meanwhile, local progressives join the call for Klingenschmitt to withdraw from the HD-15 race:
"Gordon Klingenschmitt's extreme homophobic slurs have no place in any civil discussion of American politics," said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. "There is absolutely nothing that can justify these outlandish statements, certainly nothing in Rep. Jared Polis' record of fighting for equality for all Americans."
"Like it or not, Klingenschmitt is the Republican Party's nominee for Colorado House District 15," said Runyon-Harms. "His extreme rhetoric dishonors not just the Republican Party, but other Republican politicians who have endorsed his campaign either directly or indirectly. Sen. Bernie Herpin, who invited Klingenschmitt to deliver a prayer at his recall victory party, should disavow Klingenschmitt–or explain why he will not."
"For years, Colorado conservatives have turned a blind eye to irresponsible extremism," said Runyon-Harms. "Now, one of their worst offenders is receiving national attention just before a major election. Is Gordon Klingenschmitt the new face of the Colorado Republican Party? If Klingenschmitt refuses to withdraw, and his Republican colleagues refuse to ask him to do so, he must be."
As the Colorado Springs Gazette's Megan Schrader reports, the story of GOP HD-15 nominee Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, whose every pronouncement since winning his Colorado House primary has been an absolute disaster for the Republican brand. They were before, of course, but now he's official. Klingenschmitt's Democratic opponent Lois Fornander is now calling for "Dr. Chaps" to pull out of the race:
Lois Fornander is calling for her opponent for the state House of Representatives to withdraw from the election after what she calls "a homophobic attack on Congressman Jared Polis."
Fornander, a Democrat, is set to face Republican Gordon Klingenschmitt in November for the eastern Colorado Springs and El Paso County House District 15 seat…
"Such a statement is far beyond 'hyperbole,' it is inflammatory, irresponsible and repulsive," said Fornander in an email. "Klingenschmitt's attempt to pass off this reference to an ISIS beheading as an attempt at humor is not only disingenuous, it's perverse."
It's interesting to see Fornander call for Klingenschmitt to exit the race, since arguably "Dr. Chaps" represents Fornanders best shot at actually winning the safe Republican HD-15 seat this November. We assume that Fornander and those advising her have considered this, and simply concluded that calling for Klingenschmitt to withdraw from the HD-15 race is the altruistically right thing to do.
On the other hand, there's really nothing that Fornander or Republicans can do to force Klingenschmitt out. As we learned when Rep. Jared Wright's campaign in 2012 went off the rails, leading to not-so-subtle attempts by fellow Republicans to get him out of the HD-54 race, safe Republican seats like HD-15 leave candidates with little to fear no matter what they say or do–within reason, of course, but neither Wright's embarrassing career and financial troubles nor Klingenschmitt's penchant for bug-eyed insanity appear to rise to the proverbial level.
And that could be a problem for Republicans in more than just this one House seat. The next logical step in the Klingenschmitt story, which hasn't been anywhere near fully developed, is his close ties to GOP SD-11 Senator Bernie Herpin. Herpin's recall victory last yearover Sen. John Morse in a district that leans Democratic has made him a major target this year. Herpin's ties to Klingenschmitt include a genuine "Dr. Chaps" prayer at Herpin's victory party, and the subsequent endorsement of Klingenschmitt's House campaign by Herpin's Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition.
Even before this latest, there was a vast wealth of "Dr. Chaps" lunacy on video to make Herpin dearly regret it.