Archive for Thursday, February 1, 2007

LHS grad at home in Congress

February 1, 2007

A Leavenworth County native has packed up his Midwestern values and taken them to Capitol Hill.

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, a 1972 graduate of Lansing High School, in November earned a place in the 110th Congress with his election in Colorado's 5th District.

Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado Springs, also served in the Colorado House and Senate from 1995 through 2006.

The son of Robert Lamborn and the late Madeline (Brockman) Lamborn, Doug Lamborn grew up on the 160-acre family farm near 163rd Street and Gilman Road, south of Lansing.

He attended Fairmont Elementary, Lansing Junior High and then LHS, where his former American history teacher Errol Logue remembers a "personable and smart" young man.

"He's definitely a kid that's going to go a long way," he said. "I would not be surprised to see him in the Oval Office some day."

Logue recalled a bet Lamborn made with him at the advent of the Watergate investigation.

"He said he bet (President Richard) Nixon would resign. He was adamant. This was before the tapes even," Logue said.

Logue took him up on the wager.

"I still owe him that $5," Logue said with a chuckle.

Political blooms

After graduating from LHS as class valedictorian, Lamborn attended the University of Kansas, where he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and a juris doctorate in law.

He was introduced to his future wife, Jeanie, at church when he lived in Lawrence. They married 30 years ago. Together they have raised four sons and a daughter.

"Church became a very important thing to me after I went off to college, when I found my faith, and I regret that I didn't do that earlier in my life," said Lamborn, 52.

In 1976, Lamborn developed a thirst for politics when he attended the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Mo., and watched Ronald Reagan lose a close contest to Gerald R. Ford for the nomination.

Four years later, Lamborn witnessed a Reagan victory at the polls.

"That really cemented my desire to be involved in politics at some indefinite time in the future," said Lamborn, who served as a GOP precinct person when Reagan won election to the White House. "For the first time ever, conservatives had a place at the table."

In the beginning

Robert Lamborn remembered his son vying for a Kansas House seat in 1982 during a tough race against Democratic incumbent Betty Jo Charlton, of Lawrence.

"He wore out three pairs of shoes," said the elder Lamborn, adding that his son may have lost, but his effort was tremendous.

Robert Lamborn said he never imagined the son he often calls "Dougie" would grow up to become a politician though.

"He was sensitive," he said.

"We had a 4-H Club nearby, and Doug and his best friend were nominated for president. So Doug beat him - Doug got to be president - then he cried on the way home because he beat him," Robert Lamborn said through giggles.

He also remembered an intelligent youngster on a constant quest for knowledge.

"One day, Doug was down there waiting for the bus, and I saw him there, and he was reading a book. I said, 'Doug, what are you reading?' He said, 'It's a Russian book, Dad. I'm learning Russian.' He was only about 6 years old," Robert Lamborn recalled.

A tough fight

Robert Lamborn, 87, waited out Election Night 2006 in front of the television in his living room on the farm where he and his wife, Madeline, raised their four sons.

"I called my oldest son, Bobby, out in western Kansas that night," he recalled. "The election returns were coming in. I said, 'Bobby, it don't look too good for Doug, because the Republicans are taking a whippin'.'"

Doug Lamborn said winning the congressional seat didn't come easy, especially in the beginning.

"It was a tough-fought primary because most people knew that the primary was the whole election and everyone pulled out all the stops," he said.

In the general election, Lamborn defeated Democrat Jay Fawcett, capturing 59 percent of the vote.

"I really feel I can make a difference here. I want to stand up for Republican and conservative values," he said. "I want to cut taxes and government. I'm very pro-life, and I want to strengthen our national defense through supporting issues like missile defense."

He said the years he spent in Leavenworth County were formative and positive. When he can, he returns to the area, where he said he garnered a great deal of wisdom and knowledge that has served him well in his career as an attorney and a legislator.

"When you grow up on a farm, I think you develop good work habits," he said. "We still come back, and when we do, we love to come back through town and see what things are new and what things have changed."

Robert Lamborn said he couldn't be prouder of his son, the congressman.

"I told Doug to remember that Madeline is with him in spirit. She'd have been real proud of him too."

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