Larson Drawing Line in Sand With Right-Wing of Party

As The Durango Herald reports, the bad blood between Rep. Mark Larson and other Republicans

If the recent statewide breakdown of the Republican Party was a quake, then La Plata County might well be the epicenter. In an e-mail exchange this week, an active county Republican traded barbs with state Rep. Mark Larson, R-Cortez, calling the lawmaker a “backstabber” and comparing his criticism of party leaders to Benedict Arnold “carping about George Washington’s leadership.”

“In addition to being a traitor to your party and constituency, like most bullies you are also a coward,” John H. Lopez wrote to Larson in an e-mail. The message was copied to dozens of others, including Attorney General John Suthers, former state treasurer Mike Coffman and County Commissioner Sheryl Ayers.

Lopez is a former special assistant to the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., under Alan Greenspan. On Wednesday, he declined to comment on what he considered private e-mails. Lopez helped found the Republican Club of the Four Corners, based in Durango. The Web site of the La Plata County Republican Party lists his wife, Diana Johnstone Lopez, as president of the Southwest Republican Women’s Unit. Both also are involved with the county party’s central committee.

In his e-mail to Larson, Lopez said the county party had promised to fully support him in a state Senate bid if the lawmaker apologized for his controversial endorsement of Democrat Ken Salazar in the 2004 U.S. Senate race. “This you promised to do in a face-to-face meeting with (county chairwoman Shannon Richardson) and me,” Lopez wrote. “You lied. We are well rid of you. Now act like a man and put a cork in it.”…

…On Dec. 21, Larson abruptly withdrew from the 6th District state Senate race against incumbent Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus. Fallout from Larson’s departure has rippled through Colorado political circles. A Larson victory was widely considered the party’s best chance of reversing the Democrats’ 18-17 margin in the state Senate.

Again Wednesday, Larson accused hard-line right wingers of purging party moderates, even if it means losing races. Another La Plata County Republican, former U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Ignacio, echoed Larson’s criticism. On Tuesday, he flatly ruled out a run for governor on the GOP ticket, citing the “absolute obedience” demanded by powerful conservatives.

After Campbell’s announcement and Tuesday’s resignation of respected moderate state Sen. Norma Anderson, R-Jefferson County, there was no letup to battling in Southwest Colorado. In a prior e-mail to Lopez’s wife, Larson accused county chairwoman Shannon Richardson of conspiring with state GOP leaders to form a “Republicans for Isgar” organization.

“I have been the best candidate I could be, worked as hard as I possibly could (to the detriment of my own health), getting results for a great many people on a great many issues,” Larson wrote this week. “But that was never enough for some and now they can find whomever they want to fit their mold. Backstabbing, indeed.”

On Wednesday, Larson blamed the local meltdown on conservative transplants from out of state who are muscling moderates from the party. “They say I’m dividing the party. Well, I’ve been here a hell of a lot longer,” he said. “It’s a fight we’re having for the life of the party, and I hope the moderates will stand up.”

Wow. This looks like it is only going to get worse. We’ll support you if you apologize for supporting Ken Salazar? That sounds awfully theocratic.

27 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Soundin’ ugly out there in La Plata.  This argument is beginning to happen across the country, too.  There’s a lot of discontent among the GOP side of the Congressional aisle as well…

    I left the Republican Party about 6 years ago now, and I haven’t regretted my decision much lately.  It no longer stands for conservatism; now it seems more interested in laissez faire cronyism and cynical use of religious reactionaries.  It’s good to see moderate and true conservative Republicans standing up.

  2. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    PR, I am stunned at the thought that you were ever a Republican.  I guess it’s true about the fervor of converts.

  3. Kevin Jones says:

    Wow. This looks like it is only going to get worse. We’ll support you if you apologize for supporting Ken Salazar? That sounds awfully theocratic.

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  4. Stunned at the thought that I was a Republican, or stunned at the thought that my views haven’t changed that much since I was a Republican, and my representatives at the time were pretty representative…

    Republicans from Teddy to Tricky were envrionmentalists.  As I was growing up, government that was responsible with my money was Republican.  Non-intrusive government was Republican.  Military support was Republican  Now, twenty years on, the GOP wants more police powers, more moral restrictions, more deficits, more imperialist wars, while caring less about the environment, less about military support, and less about workers than about corporate profits.  The Democrats have gained a sense of budgetary propriety, have refined their social programs stances (Welfare Reform is Okay now), and are back to their original job of defending the Bill of Rights (at least part-time).  Why exactly should I be supporting the Republican Party again?

  5. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    Unless you were around in Thaddeus Stevens time, PR, or at least with George Norris and the LaFolletes, your views were NEVER representative of the Republican party.  I was simply stunned to discovered that you once sailed under that banner, kind of a political Q-ship.

  6. More like, I just didn’t used to live in Colorado.  Republicans in the East north of the Mason-Dixon line tend a lot more towards moderation.

  7. BadMoonRising says:

    “More like, I just didn’t used to live in Colorado. Republicans in the East north of the Mason-Dixon line tend a lot more towards moderation.”


    Wasn’t that the Whig Party?  *wink*

  8. BadMoonRising says:

    “More like, I just didn’t used to live in Colorado. Republicans in the East north of the Mason-Dixon line tend a lot more towards moderation.”


    Which explains why the NE has so many liberals being elected.

  9. It’s a different set of expectations in the East.  I like the freedom of being out here: in New York, the State Parks had fences and walls anywhere they thought someone might get hurt.  But they’ve had an extra century or so to contemplate civilization in the East, too; their towns are older, more developed, and they have had to live with each other a lot more closely than here.

    That means they get the good and bad of having more history: more opportunities to think of social restrictions, more requirements for conservation.  No Republican I knew when I lived out there longed for the privatization of Federal Public Lands, at least not in public.  No Republican I met would step up and say Social Security needed to go; even Reagan fixed it instead of demolishing it.

  10. Gecko says:

    I’m sure the east as far as weather goes is similar to Chicago. And Chicago is a good place to be from. Freezing ass cold (especially if you have to work outside), hot and miserably humid in the summer, and mosquitos as big as finchs. Whoopee……..
    And then there is the weekend activities…..drinking…..say, what’s wrong with that?

  11. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    PR, the reason no easterner of whatever party talks about privatizing public (i.e., federal) lands is that there are virtually no federal lands in the east.  The 13 colonies that joined together to form this nation didn’t turn over their property to the new federal government, the minor exception of DC from Md. and Va notwithstanding.  As the Louisiana Purchase and Mexican War added vast new tracts, states were slowly formed from them, but giant stretches of federal land were retained in federal ownership.
    In a sense, the western states are thus second-class citizens in terms of controlling our own destiny, dependent on the whims of our Congressional landlords.  It does make for a different outlook on the lands issue.
    As for Social Security, what can I say?  Some Rs just have a death wish, but then the Ds have the same problem with their far-left Blame Amerika First wing, the Cindy Sheehans and Michael Moores who alienate patriotic Americans because they don’t really even understand that such strange, to them, creatures exist.

  12. Maybe you see Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan as the “Blame Amerika First Wing”, but they are doing their patriotic job in questioning our leadership.  Moore is a self-aggrandizing jerk, but his documentaries are solid pieces of work.  Sheehan just wants to know one thing, and she’s not getting an answer: why was [her] son sent to Iraq, where he died?  That question should be asked until someone is willing to answer it.  Where, for example, is the report on the status of Phase II of the Senate intelligence investigation, that was promised some time ago now?

    Patriotic means making your country the best it can be, not kowtowing to the current leadership agenda.

  13. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    If Michael Moore’s vision of America is as good as it can be, I’m going to have to rethink my decision not to move to Australia.

  14. Gecko says:

    First off, what the hell is with these pop ups all of the sudden? Is it just my computer or is everyone getting them? Everytime I click the mouse I get an ad pop up.

    Cindy Sheehan is a puppet for the ultra liberal left and a ding-a-ling. Her son died, unfortunately, because he joined the military. Period. Sometimes that happens when people join the military. Get over it. He knew that going in as does anyone that joins. If they thought they were going on a field trip, they were mis-informed.

  15. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    Her son not only served voluntarily, he chose to go back, knowing full well the risks, and proud to serve in the long line of heros who have defended America, a line stretching from Baghdad all the way back to Concord Bridge.  I only wish his mother would honor his legacy as much as a grateful nation does.

  16. Gecko says:


    Patriotic: “a person who loves and loyally or zealously supports his own country”
    Nothing is mentioned about kowtowing in the dictionary…

  17. Patriotism: “a feeling of love, devotion (and sacrifice) for one’s country”  I can find no definition which lists zealotry; do you have the Right Wing Dictionary, 2nd Ed.?

    Thank goodness kowtowing isn’t in the definition…

    If you mean the word isn’t in your dictionary, try: k?u t?u (??), the act of deep respect shown by kneeling and bowing so low as to touch the head to the ground; the Anglicization is to bow and scrape in a servile manner.

  18. George says:

    Gecko, Voyageur. Jingoism is good word. Please look it up.

    Voyageur: Most of the young American men and women dying or being terribly maimed in Iraq were heroes to their friends and families long before they put themselves in harm’s way because Dubya just had to have himself a little war based on lies and deceipt and the shameless ego of the village idiot–that he is–who sent them there. To compare the Iraq debacle to the essential significance of Concord Bridge is probably the most ludicrous statement of yours I’ve read on this site.

  19. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    I fail to see your point, George, per usual.  You are saying you despise the sacrifices American troops are making in Iraq because you despise George Bush?  Unfortunately, soldiers normally don’t get to decide which wars we serve in.  I would obviously have preferred to stand at WWII, or even with Chamberlain at Little Round Top, rather than serve in the Vietnam unpleasantness.  But the fact I was born when I did didn’t make my service in an unpopular war any less honorable than the service my ancestor, on my mother’s side, performed in the American revolution.  Hate Bush all you want, there’s a lot of that going around.  But when you let that hatred goad you into mocking the service our men and women are making in Iraq, you dishonor yourself even as you deride your country.

  20. What spate of blindness has struck you over the past day or two, Voyageur?  How hard is it to separate support of troops from support of a President or support of a war?  George, I, and others support our troops – we support ensuring that a President doesn’t misuse the lives which are placed at his service.

    If we fail to question the circumstances which led to a war in which more than 2200 Americans have died, in which more than 15,000 have been permanently and severely injured, in which we have killed between 30,000 and 100,000+ Iraqi civilians as “collateral damage”, and in which we have yet to determine an honorable way out, then we are in no way being supportive of our troops.  If we fail to question why a President whos information should have contained at the very least a boatload of caveats and disagreements to the arguments for war  – and evidence so far says he had at least that much – then we are supporting a future, indeed a present, where any President may present any story whatsoever to send and keep our troops in harm’s way.

    Every day the insurgency is in its “last throes”; every day on average more than two American soldiers die for a war that Congress approved based on the imminent threat of Saddam’s WMDs falling into the hands of a closely-linked al Qaeda – for lies or at best willful ignorance.  Every day we pay with the lives of our friends, neighbors, and family for having solid plans thrown out the window before the invasion.

    What good is blind allegiance to the Bush Administration doing us?  What exactly are we accomplishing by going to war with Iraq?

    Larson’s fed up with the blind obedience thing, and he’s not the only one.  Good for the lot of them, and it will be good for the GOP, too.

  21. George says:

    Don’t presume to tell me what I am saying, Voyageur. What I said is clear, even to the most muddle-headed, jingoistic neocon who posts on this site. Of course, as usual, Phoenix Rising is significantly more articulate than I in espousning sanity in the context of this polemic.

    How dare you suggest I’m “mocking” or “deriding” our servicemen or women and my country. Yes, voyageur, MY country. I know that one sticks in your craw. But, hey, stuff happens!

    Keep pushing those neocon “hot buttons” for your arguments. Don’t tell anyone, but I think they’re losing a wee bit of their credibility.

  22. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    Oh, I get the message, PR.  You and George “support” the troops by mocking everything they do, deriding their mission, belittling their successes and turning everything in sight into ammunition in the only war that counts for you, the war against George Bush.  Tell it to Cindy and Michael Moore, they’ll applaud you.  The last time we had a media figure like Moore, he went under the name Lord Haw Haw.  Somehow, I think you would have loved his broadcasts.

  23. George says:

    You just don’t get it, do you, voyageur. If you’re brave enough, you might want to read what the father of a dead Marine had to say recently in the Washington Post: (No, this isn’t Michael Moore or Cindy. This is a grieving father.)

  24. Gecko says:

    PR, the definition I gave you is from Webster’s New World Dictionary. Not a right wing publication or one of yours or George’s anti government versions. Kowtowing is not included in the definition of patriotism. I’m thinking you two are looking at a socialism dictionary version perhaps.
    I can’t help but think if the president was a Democrat that you two wouldn’t be so vocal with your anti government speeches. Is this true? Or is it that anybody that doesn’t agree with you is a war monger. I do not believe that Yoyageur is a war monger as at least he served his country. I did not, as the Vietnam war just ended when I turned 18, but I still believe that anyone that volunteers for service should know that he might be asked to fight in a war. Undeclared or not. Right or wrong. Popular or not.
    Give it a break with your higher than thou attitudes.

  25. Gecko says:

    Republican party split in Colorado?

    It looks like the Colorado state Republican party is starting to split due to pressure fromthe party’s ultra-conservative members:
      …On Dec. 21, Larson abruptly withdrew from the 6th District state Senate race against incumbent Jim Isgar, …

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