Colorado

Republican activists call for a different approach, new leadership at the helm of the Colorado GOP | news

A group of Republican activists on Wednesday urged grassroots conservatives to take control of the Colorado GOP after Republican candidates suffered a historic blow in this month’s election.

“Our Republican Party leadership has let us down,” said Aaron Wood, organizer of a news conference held across from the GOP state headquarters in Greenwood Village.

Wood, founder of the conservative group Freedom Fathers, and a dozen others took turns speaking from the back of a pickup truck in the parking lot of a western clothing retailer as about 100 supporters braved the freezing temperatures to make their pleas for the state to be restored Republican party to its conservative bases.

Some of the speakers called for the state GOP to pass a rule requiring the party to nominate its candidates at party conventions, rather than giving voters who are not registered Republicans a say. The state’s semi-open primary electoral system allows non-party voters, who make up a majority of the state’s electorate, to vote in the two major party nominating contests.

“We’re just regular people, tired of losing everything, feeling insecure, watching the destruction of Colorado under Democratic Gov. Jared Polis,” Wood said. “The Polity’s total control of our state and Republican partnership in name only must end. We have enough.”

Polis won the Nov. 8 election for a second term, defeating Republican challenger Heidi Ganahl, a University of Colorado regent, by nearly 20 percentage points — the largest difference in a Colorado gubernatorial race in two decades.

Speaker after speaker at the press conference blasted state GOP Chair Kristi Burton Brown, whose two-year tenure as head of the state party ends in March.

Through a spokesman, Burton Brown declined to comment. Earlier on Wednesday, she said she plans to announce by the end of December whether she is seeking a second term as state leader.

A potential party candidate blamed Burton Brown for Republican losses in the November election.

“Our lands are being taken from us,” said Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who powered the pickup truck with the speakers that served as the podium. “It begins with the GOP’s betrayal of our state. You know, there are these speakers that are going to speak about Kristi Burton Brown’s transgressions, Kristi Burton Brown’s failure to stand up and inform the chairmen in every county on how to deal with voter fraud.”

Peters, who lost the GOP secretary of state primaries by a wide margin this summer, is due to be tried in Grand Junction in March for 10 felonies and misdemeanors stemming from allegations that she tampered with voting equipment in her office last spring . On Wednesday, former county Elections Commissioner Sandra Brown pleaded guilty to two charges related to the case and agreed to testify against Peters.

Peters has denied all allegations against them, arguing they are politically motivated.

Peters told Colorado Politics after addressing the crowd that she was ready to run for the state party’s presidency.

“If people ask me to do it and it’s the right thing to do, then I will do it,” she said. “But it has to come from the people.”

State Representative Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs and former congressional candidate Erik Aadland are also weighing bids for the party’s top job, they told Colorado Politics on Wednesday.

Peters told the crowd that the GOP candidates lost in Colorado in part because Burton Brown insisted they don’t talk about unsubstantiated claims that the Colorado election was rigged.

“We need to take back our state,” Peters said. “We must do it now. We have to involve and inform every single person.”

Peters added: “We are not a blue state. We’re not even a purple state. We are a red state.”

Colorado, once considered a top battleground state, has shifted sharply toward the blue end of the spectrum in recent years. Its constituents have elected just one Republican to run the state in the past decade — former U.S. Senator Cory Gardner in 2014 — and have voted for Democratic candidates in the last four presidential elections.

After the Democrats’ march through earlier this month, Republicans in Colorado have less power at the state and federal levels than they have since the 1930s.

Addressing a theme repeated by other speakers at the press conference, Anil Mathai, a former Adams County GOP chairman, bemoaned that the state GOP has handed its destiny over to political advisors, who are paid whether Republican candidates win or to lose.

“We have a Republican Party that’s full of whores,” Mathai said. “You’ve been listening to the advisors, right? They keep telling you about messaging, right? They are liars – they did something else. They have not adhered to the Republican platform, which is conservative. They have not obeyed the US Constitution. And then you wonder why these ads can’t win a race.”

Mathai drew some of the loudest cheers of the event when he said Colorado Republicans would need to opt out of the state primary so non-partisan voters could not participate, as some Republicans have tried unsuccessfully in recent years.

“It’s time we win back our party of state,” Mathai cried. “And first of all, whoever wins – end the stupid open primaries! It’s up to Republicans to pick a Republican candidate, right? What the hell were we thinking, letting the Democrats choose our candidates? Get rid of all those consultants because the only thing they care about is money. It’s party principles and personalities, right? We can turn this thing around, but it requires everyone to stand up and fight.”

Several of the speakers urged their supporters to run for local party offices in the coming months so they can participate in the state party leadership election this spring.

Dick Wadhams, a leading Republican strategist and former three-year state party leader, told Colorado Politics he was struck by how “nonsensical” the activists’ arguments sounded after watching the press conference online.

He added he was impressed that none of the speakers mentioned former President Donald Trump and the role the unpopular former president had played in the state’s changing constituency.

“Not once have I heard the words Trump or MAGA. Not once,” Wadhams said. “Trump is the looming presence in the Colorado election that led to the defeats we’ve had in the last three election cycles.”

Instead, Wadhams said, activists at Wednesday’s news conference appear to be scapegoating Burton Brown for the party’s inability to win elections.

“‘It’s all Kristi Burton Brown’s fault, it’s all Republican leaders and advisers from Colorado,'” he said. “It’s kind of startling that people are so little in touch with what’s been going on in Colorado over the last 10 years in terms of a changing electorate, an electorate that’s largely opposed to Trump and Republicans wholeheartedly in favor of it blamed Trump.”

“The problem is that so many people don’t understand the role of the state party and the limited power it has,” Wadhams continued. “These allegations that Kristi Burton Brown single-handedly defeated the candidates she supported are just nonsensical.

After a pause for laughter, Wadhams added: “If Kristi Burton Brown has tried to undermine the process, she’s not very effective because her people won the state assembly. It’s hard to keep track of all the nonsensical, contradictory, and bizarre claims they’re making and how contradictory they are. The same people who lament that Kristi Burton Brown should have done this, should have done this, then accuse her of abuse of power.”

Wadhams said the groups could succeed in taking over the party but indicated it will not bring the success they envision.

“I have no doubt that they will be a very powerful force in the state central committee and they could win this,” he said. “If they win it, I hope they have fun and continue to propel the Colorado Republican Party into insignificance and defeat.”

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