(Bumped into Monday – promoted by Colorado Pols)
Respected Denver Post columnist Fred Brown published, we love him but we have to be honest, an exasperatingly Pollyannish op-ed about the state of Colorado Republican Party politics today:
The Republican Party, at least in Colorado, may finally be turning away from the wedge issues that have divided it in the past and may have cost it more than a few elections.
At a forum last weekend in Colorado Springs, the three candidates seeking the party’s nomination for governor said they will avoid being dragged into an argument over social issues. They all said they will focus instead on the economy. And they pledged not to be too enthusiastic in their attacks on each another.
…[T]hey took questions from the audience. And it was there that all three moved firmly but politely away from issues such as same-sex marriage.
They’re all social conservatives, they said, but it was “time to keep the bedroom out of the campaign,” in Maes’ words. “We can’t be the finger-waving party,” Penry said.
There was little enthusiasm for the old social agenda. An earlier speaker, who described an ugly encounter with some immigrant gardeners, was criticized…
Sounds good, doesn’t it? We’ve been saying for years that the wedge-issue fixated GOP had dug its own grave in Colorado, and we were proven right in election after election–now comes the new-and-improved “big tent” Republican Party for 2010, at least as far as keeping “the bedroom out of the campaign” persuades you.
Unfortunately, the Colorado GOP’s image makeover is taking place against the backdrop of a hard-right purge among Republicans nationally, and you’ll recognize some names–Brown continues:
In a congressional race in northern New York state, the official Republican nominee, Dede Scozzafava, is shunned by hard-line party members because she supports abortion rights and would tolerate same-sex marriage. One of those opposing her is Marilyn Musgrave, former congresswoman from Colorado, who told The New York Times, “This is the shot that needs to be fired to Republican leaders to wake them up.”
Brown concludes with an admonition about the Dede Scozzafava affair, warning that “it’s possible to get so ‘conservative’ that a more fitting label might be ‘radical'”–and expressing relief that despite Marilyn Musgrave’s divisive purging of Republican wedge-issue infidels elsewhere, “moderation” may be “making a comeback” in Colorado.
Folks, we really do wish this was an accurate assessment. Despite what critics allege, we would like nothing more than for the Republican Party to abandon manipulative games about the private lives of other people and focus on the things that matter. It would be game-changing electorally (meaning bad for Democrats) for Republicans to field more Don Marosticas and fewer Dave Schultheises, but it would be a wonderful development for the state of Colorado as a whole.
We just don’t see any evidence this is actually happening. Republicans can say that they need to stop focusing on divisive social issues, but they also know that they can’t win a primary if they don’t focus on divisive social issues.
In the case of now ex-candidate Dede Scozzafava, Colorado Republican leaders did everything they could to assist her purge, right-wing columnist Michelle Malkin says:
Received this statement from a group of conservative Colorado Republican legislators who are lending their support to NY-23 conservative candidate Doug Hoffman. They tell me they “hope the effect will be to energize other Republican state legislators around the country to do the same:”
Colorado Republican legislators Sen. Scott Renfroe, Sen. Kevin Lundberg, Sen. Greg Brophy, Sen. Dave Schultheis and Rep. Kent Lambert are pleased to endorse Republican Doug Hoffman, candidate for the 23rd Congressional District of New York. A liberal Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, is supported by the New York GOP in a contest that has not had the benefit of a primary election. Assemblywoman Scozzafava’s views do not reflect the conservative principles set forth in the Republican Platform.
The Republican establishment should stop supporting candidates that merely call themselves Republicans to get elected, and whose actions then undermine principled Republican legislation. We should represent our loyal Party members better by heeding their warnings against compromising Republican principles. Unlike Scozzafava’s views, the Republican Party Platform is pro-life, pro-capitalist, and pro-traditional marriage, and is opposed to radical leftist groups like ACORN…
You’ve got gubernatorial candidate Josh Penry, who has said that the Republican Party’s biggest problem is that there aren’t enough Tea Partiers. The same Josh Penry who refused to intervene as Minority Leader in members of his caucus wishing AIDS on babies or noting for the record the biblical death penalty for gay people. There’s fast-fading Senate candidate Ken Buck, who for all the angst among the GOP base over “DC Jane” Norton made the mistake of prosecuting the murder of a transsexual as a hate crime–bzzt! Disqualified. And isn’t this the same Colorado GOP that thuggishly muscled all competition out of hard-right Bob Schaffer’s way in the 2008 Senate race? We could go on and on.
All the way down to the Douglas County school board election this coming Tuesday, where the Republican Party has declared open war on a group of candidates, connecting them in robocalls to ‘prostitution-linked ACORN’ and ‘Obama’s socialist agenda’–conveniently omitting the fact that at least one of them is a registered Republican.
So, aside one obliging columnist, and as much as Ali Hasan would like for it to be true, where is the evidence for this new ‘moderate’ Colorado GOP? And if there isn’t any, indeed if a casual look at the state of the Colorado GOP reveals just the opposite–closer to what Brown said about the Scozzafava purge in New York?
The true “conservatives,” politicians who favor a more deliberative approach that includes occasional attempts to persuade those with other points of view – and even occasionally to cede a few points – seem to have been marginalized.
He should have stopped there, “but not in Colorado” doesn’t appear to correctly follow.