It’s a Thing: Republicans Going Underground To Survive

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman with “Mini-Mike” City Council candidate Dustin Zvonek.

If you don’t already subscribe to the Colorado Sun’s Unaffiliated newsletter, you’re missing out on one of the better periodic updates on local political news produced today. In today’s Unaffiliated, the Sun’s political team takes a look at an unusually public campaign by Colorado Republicans to support conservative activist candidates in nominally nonpartisan municipal elections:

Denver Post columnist and think tank fellow Krista Kafer announced she’s running for an at-large seat on the Littleton City Council. She joins Dustin Zvonek, a former Americans for Prosperity director and Republican campaign worker who is running for Aurora City Council.

Conservative groups are also discussing the need to support school board candidates and participate in the Nov. 2 election as poll watchers or election judges, even though there are no federal races…

Colorado school board and city council contests are nonpartisan. Still, in a July 6 email, Colorado Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown wrote: “In order to combat the Democrats’ devastating policies, please choose a local candidate you can adopt for the November 2021 races. Whether it’s a mayor, city council, or school board race — each of our good candidates needs your help. Please jump in, and we’ll also be jumping in as the state party.” [Pols emphasis]

It’s neither news nor scandalous that nonpartisan municipal elected offices regularly serve as incubators for future leaders, who will in due course shed their “nonpartisan” cloak and run for higher office as partisan candidates. But it’s odd and risky for Colorado Republican Party chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown to publicly declare that the GOP has a slate of “our good candidates” she wants the party faithful to support, particularly given the growing unpopularity of the Republican brand in populated areas of the state. In Grand Junction last April, a similarly explicitly GOP-backed slate of city council candidates was defeated in a turnabout that raises serious questions about the wisdom of this strategy.

In Aurora, former staffer for now-Mayor Mike Coffman Dustin Zvonek is gambling in his race for City Council that voters either won’t hear about or will actually be attracted to his Republican bonafides. After Coffman himself barely prevailed in his election for Mayor in 2019, that’s not a bet we would ourselves take. After Coffman sued the city to make sure he could be directly involved in supporting Zvonek’s campaign, though, it’s arguable the game was up. The Republican brand has only declined in popularity in Colorado since 2019, and instead of being an asset to Zvonek, his race may tell us whether usual-suspect Republicans can live down their party’s toxicity under these thinnest of pretenses.

If the answer turns out to be no, maybe don’t be so obvious about it next time.

8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. 2Jung2Die says:

    I hope Littleton media will give full vetting to what they'd really get with an operative like Kafer on their city council. The campaign announcement story in the Littleton Independent did give a couple paragraphs to a listing of the think tanks she's worked for, which is good, but maybe not descriptive enough for folks who can't or won't read between the lines.

  2. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    This type of campaigning, as encouraged by Burton-Brown, is part of the combined agenda of Trumpist Republicans and evangelical/Christian Nationalists. The agenda is to take control of the grassroots.

    Or as I now refer to them: the non-conservative, far right wing, Bolshevik Republicans.

    Kafer by herself doesn’t sound so bad, especially in wanting to clean up vagrancy and homelessness. Back in the early 1980s, as I got active politically in Denver, I met a number of homeless advocates. Some of those people have been drawing salaries for 35 years and the homeless problem is still here. Maybe there is a need for them to retire in favor of new blood and new ideas.

    • Voyageur says:

      "The poor you shall always have with you."

    • JohnInDenver says:

      Saw a neologism about those who aren't conservatives — Reocons … Someone named  Laura K. Field on the Niskanen site called it this way:

      Today, a growing number of prominent conservative intellectuals have joined Anton and are planning openly for America’s illiberal future. Though they typically maintain a genteel collective persona – Anton actually wrote a book called The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men’s Style – there is an ugliness to their anti-liberal message and a deceptive vagueness to their political vision that make for a destabilizing brew. And unlike Trump, their influence among conservatives is likely to continue and grow regardless of what happens in the election. I call them reactionary conservatives, or Reocons, and they are only getting started.

      She names names and has got the quotes to prove it:

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