The former Chief of Staff for the Republican House caucus issued a terse press release on Wednesday announcing his resignation. That Jim Pfaff felt he was important enough to send out a press release about his employment is a different topic altogether, but the content of Pfaff’s missive is another striking reminder that Colorado Republicans are stuck in a very bad place after a second straight drubbing at the polls.
First, let’s take a look at Pfaff’s weird multi-voice press release, which was issued directly from Pfaff himself from an @msn.com email address:
Today, Jim Pfaff, the former Chief of Staff for the House GOP Caucus under Rep. Patrick Neville, announced his reasons for leaving the House Republican Caucus. After numerous inquiries asking Jim Pfaff after people began to learn he had left the position of Chief of Staff, Mr. Pfaff decided to make a statement.
“I left my position as a Chief of Staff in Washington, DC to return home to Colorado for Pat Neville. Pat is a strong leader whom I was honored to serve. I was unlikely to continue on in my position without Rep. Neville at the helm of the Caucus. But I waited to see who would replace him as leader. That person was Hugh McKean a man whom I refuse to serve. Rep. McKean and others raised and spent about $3 million to take out Republicans in primaries in 2020 instead of focusing on General Election races which would have expanded our caucus. As it turned out, many good GOP candidates in winnable districts could not match Democrats in fundraising. That is the losing strategy which has been plaguing Republicans for a decade-and-a-half now. I decided I would not use my skills and expertise to support losing strategies.”
When Pfaff says that he issued this release “after numerous inquiries” about leaving the position of Chief of Staff, what he really means is that he fielded questions from somebody he met in the elevator and, later, one of his neighbors. Pfaff was one of former House Minority Leader Pat Neville’s top lieutenants, so when Neville announced in October that he wouldn’t seek re-election as Minority Leader, Pfaff was already updating his resume. New leaders almost always bring new staffers with them. If you didn’t suspect that Pfaff was on his way out, then you probably didn’t know that Neville wasn’t going to be Minority Leader anymore; if you didn’t know that, then you weren’t really paying attention to any of this anyway.
It is the second paragraph of Pfaff’s release that is more instructive. You can skip past the first few sentences in which Pfaff rubs some extra shine on Neville’s rear-end. The key piece is when Pfaff denigrates Minority Leader-elect Hugh McKean as “a man whom I refuse to serve” because of these grievances:
Rep. McKean and others raised and spent about $3 million to take out Republicans in primaries in 2020 instead of focusing on General Election races which would have expanded our caucus. As it turned out, many good GOP candidates in winnable districts could not match Democrats in fundraising. That is the losing strategy which has been plaguing Republicans for a decade-and-a-half now. I decided I would not use my skills and expertise to support losing strategies. [Pols emphasis]
Okay, so, here’s the thing: Pfaff is complaining about a strategy THAT HE AND HIS FORMER BOSS EMPLOYED FOR YEARS. Neville and his friends at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) always spent a good deal of time and money playing in nasty Republican Primary races — including in the June 2020 Primary. In fact, we pointed out in this space in July that the Neville Clan’s embarrassing Primary losses likely meant the end of Patrick Neville’s hold on the GOP caucus. Alex Burness of The Denver Post wrote something similar a few weeks later.
Pfaff’s complaints would be like President Trump bellyaching that another Republican elected official was being mean to people on Twitter. McKean and friends did the same things that Neville and Pfaff have done for years, only they did it better (not that there was a particularly high bar to clear).
Colorado Democrats won an historic majority in the State House of Representatives in 2018. Democrats maintained that 41-24 seat advantage in 2020 and picked up another seat in the State Senate. It didn’t help Republicans that there were so many nasty Primary battles last summer, but that’s not the reason they did so poorly in early November; the truth is that Republicans had bad candidates and ran bad campaigns, while Democrats did the exact opposite.
Interestingly enough, Pfaff’s revisionist history is actually not all that dissimilar from the approach that McKean appears to be taking in his new role. Last week, McKean declared that he doesn’t “believe for a second” that Colorado has become a blue state. As we wrote at the time, it doesn’t much matter whether McKean “believes” this or not. The numbers speak for themselves.
McKean’s statement and Pfaff’s vitriolic press release show that while Republicans may have rearranged a few positions on the boat after two bad election cycles, they’re still just rowing in circles.