The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter published a useful in-depth look this weekend at the candidates running to succeed Rep. Ken Buck as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, who participated in a candidate forum last Thursday night in the town of Hudson about 30 miles northeast of Denver in Weld County. As Wingerter reports, of the five contenders nominally in the running the real choice for Republicans has effectively narrowed to the current vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown versus notorious former Secretary of State Scott “Honey Badger” Gessler.
As for any rational discussion about what has happened to the Colorado GOP in recent years, leading to the least amount of power in the state since FDR was President? You’re not going to find it from either of the frontrunners:
[Jonathan] Lockwood was the only candidate to say unequivocally that the 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Two other candidates, Rich Mancuso and Casper Stockham, said it was stolen. Two others, Colorado GOP vice chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown and former secretary of state Scott Gessler, said or suggested it may have been. When pressed by the debate moderator to show evidence of a stolen election, none did… [Pols emphasis]
Gessler and Burton Brown verbally sparred on several occasions. Burton Brown criticized Gessler for installing Dominion Voting Systems — the Colorado election software and hardware company that was a frequent target of baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and has filed numerous defamation lawsuits — when he was secretary of state.
Gessler went after the current state of the Colorado GOP, of which Burton Brown is vice chair.
“If you want the same lack of creativity, if you want the same lack of initiative, if you want the same problems in the Republican Party, then keep the same people,” Gessler said.
Although vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown agreed with Gessler in denial about the outcome of the 2020 elections, we were somewhat favorably surprised and impressed by Burton Brown taking responsibility in this forum for the disastrous failed 2019 recall attempt she personally initiated against Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial. That misguided campaign played a large role in helping discredit the backlash over the GOP’s losses in the 2018 elections, and the fact that Burton Brown can admit today it was a mistake is a sign of at least some amount of political maturation on her part.
Although Gessler is generally considered to be the frontrunner in the race to be the next chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, Gessler’s long fixation with discredited claims of election fraud may be giving Republicans who would like to see the party move on from Donald Trump some discomfort. Do Republicans really want to spend the next two years relitigating the 2020 elections, or should they focus on recovering some respectability in 2022? With both frontrunners believing (or at least preaching) the Big Lie of the stolen 2020 election, the chances of honest lessons being learned to avert another electoral catastrophe in two years are not good–but Gessler’s lack of credibility after fixating on this false scapegoat for defeat for years is a matter of record. That being the case, there’s an argument that Burton Brown is better suited to making the pivot Republicans so desperately need.
Either way, it’s clear at this point that Colorado Republicans will not be turning over any new leaves. This is a party held together by a false narrative, seeking answers that confirm their own biases rather than solve their problems.
Democrats should be very pleased by this.