Much has been written of Bill Armstrong’s contributions to the Colorado Republican Party and to the Colorado Christian University. But he was also a major influence in Washington D.C. during the late 1970s and the Reagan Era.
In 1972, he was elected to Congress from the new Colorado Springs-centered congressional district (5th) and represented it until he defeated Democratic Senator Floyd Haskell in 1978. I worked for U.S. Congressman Frank Evans, his Democratic neighbor to the south (Pueblo and the 3rd district), after graduating from the Georgetown Law School. Armstrong worked closely with Evans on Colorado-based issues, such as funding and authorizing water projects.
But while Armstrong worked in the historic fashion of representing a small state that both benefits from, but also is intruded upon by the U.S. government, his most high-profile leadership was on a balanced budget, entitlement reform and the spiraling federal deficit. Indexing federal tax rates was his most prominent legislative accomplishment. Often, it was Armstrong who took on presidents Carter and Reagan and the D.C. establishment as a deficit hawk.
He preceded and shaped the Reagan Revolution and was one of the political leaders who brought a deep sense of religious values to the party. Armstrong also mentored most of the top Republican leadership in the state for nearly 50 years.
I had the privilege of joining with his former top staffer, Dick Wadhams, and Hank Brown and others in a tribute video recently shown at the Western Conservative Summit. Times change, and not always for the better. Some aspects of Armstrong’s legacy are less visible today. There is little discussion of deficits in the current presidential or congressional races, and his willingness to work with the other party is out of fashion. But Armstrong was his own man with a vision and determination.
Former Democratic Party chairman, top fundraiser and Colorado economic development advocate Howard Gelt passed away this weekend.
Howard had a positive outlook and a generous spirit. He was dedicated to using the political system to make things better. A major passion was transportation and transit, and much of RTD’s success in recent years was shepherd by Howard. My sympathies to his family, especially Susan, Ben and Anna.
Denver Post: Gelt made state “a better place”
SOS.state.co.us: Howard Gelt: An unsung force
Denver Post: Western Conservative Summit pays tribute to Bill Armstrong
Colorado Christian University: In Memoriam: Bill Armstrong
Sign the Bill Armstrong CCU online message book here