Conservative Republicans are already talking about trying to knock U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner out of Colorado’s 2020 senate race, with one local talk-radio host floating the name of State House Minority Leader Patrick Neville as a “great choice” to take on Gardner.
Neville didn’t return a call seeking to know if he’d challenge Gardner or if he knew about KNUS host Chuck Bonniwell’s suggestion that he run.
Whether it’s Neville or another Republican, David Flaherty of Magellan Strategies told a libertarian radio host last month that he thinks there “very well may be a primary” challenge to Gardner.
Asked for details, Flaherty said today, “With the sting of the defeat, there is a wide array of opinions and viewpoints on where to go from here. Obviously, some of those are going to be arch conservatives, if you will. And they have their voice and their opinion, just like you and I.”
“We’ll see what spirited conservative Republicans may emerge. I don’t know of anything in particular,” Flaherty told the Colorado Times Recorder, adding that he personally backs Gardner and the chances are “minuscule” that a primary challenge to Gardner would succeed.
“Cory is going to have $50 million at his fingertips after coming off his job at the NRSC,” said Flaherty. “And he’s going to have plenty of money to do whatever he needs to, if there is challenge in the primary.”
KNUS host Chuck Bonniwell, who’s the publisher of newspapers in Cherry Creek and Glendale, floated Neville’s name in a radio conversation this with Dick Wadhams, the former chair of the Colorado Republican Party.
Asked by Wadhams to name a person who would be a better candidate than Gardner, Bonniwell screamed, “Pick out a Neville! Patrick Neville!”
“Patrick Neville?” responded Wadhams. “Are you starting the Patrick Neville draft program?”
“Yeah,” said Bonniwell. “He’d be great…. Tim [Neville] has lots of time on his hands. He’s also a great conservative.”
Wadhams adamantly said no Republican will have a better chance in 2020 than Gardner.
“Start the primary process for Cory Gardner NOW.”
Writing on the Arapahoe Tea Party Facebook page, Republican gadfly Marc Zarlengo also tried to fire up anti-Gardner minions with a call to replace Gardner.
“Does GOP want to keep the US Senate seat?” wrote Zarlengo. “Start the primary process for Cory Gardner NOW. Get the most Conservative candidate who will appeal to the base and defeat Gardner. Otherwise we will have Senator Hickenlooper.”
Former Chair of the El Paso County GOP, Eli Bremer, wrote that Zarlengo’s comment was “ridiculous.”
Eli Bremer: The only word I can come up with for this is ridiculous. Gardner is the only Republican who has demonstrated he can win. He has Trumps support and will campaign with him in two years. We can not afford to lose our majority in the Senate which would completely derail the outstanding work of placing originalist judges in courts.
Republicans lost because unaffiliated suburban women hated us in the election. That’s shown clearly in the data. It was literally in every district in the state. We need to find a way to talk to these voters and figure out what our shared values with them are rather than infighting and primarying the only Republican left statewide.
Zarlengo, who’s widely known anti-establishment Republican in Colorado, responded with:
Marc Zarlengo: “Uhh…Walker Stapleton and Wayne Williams won state wide election too, and they just got their asses handed to them. So I guess that theory is already out the door.”
Bremer, then wrote:
Eli Bremer: They were down ticket to Cory’s up ticket race. The data were clear: unaffiliated suburban women moved strongly against Republicans in Colorado. That is fact and not opinion. If we want to win, we have to deal with reality and not fantasy.
Will Republicans Switch Registration and Vote in Democratic Primary?
Flaherty is so convinced that Gardner will be the choice of Republicans in 2020 that he said on the radio he’d register as an Unaffiliated voter to manipulate the Democrats’ efforts in 2020.
“I wouldn’t affiliate with the Unaffiliated Party because I no longer want to be associated with the Republican Party or anything like that,” said Flaherty today.
“I would switch to Unaffiliated because I’d rather play around with the Democrats, because there are going to be so many of them. I very well might become unaffiliated just to vote in the Democrat presidential primary. And perhaps the [Democratic] primary for the senate too, because I expect that to be pretty spirited.”
How many Republicans might do this?
Flaherty took the January 2017 voter file and compared it to the the Oct. 2018 voter file and found that 100,000 voters switched and became Unaffiliated from a prior party. Turns out, it was about 50,000 Democrats and 50,000 Republicans, he said.
“I wouldn’t expect it to be overwhelming but who knows? I’m sure there are going to be other Republican voters like myself who say, ‘You know what, there isn’t going to be any action on our side. I may want to weigh in on the Dem primary because it’s going to have all the attention. You know what I mean, why not.”
“If I really felt my vote was needed for Cory, that would factor into my decision, although I think the odds of that are just minuscule.
“Honestly, I’m looking forward to seeing that Dem primary,” said Flaherty, insisting that Gardner can defeat some Democratic candidates. “The bottom line is, the candidate makes a difference.”
Listen to Flaherty on KHOW’s Ross Kaminsky Show March 31 here: