In an email blast yesterday evening, old-school conservative carnival barker Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute announced the third finalist for the organization’s annual “Californian of the Year” award–given tongue-in-cheek to the politician who did the most in the previous year to “Californicate” the Centennial State.
Once again up for Caldara’s booby prize? Republican state Sen. Kevin Priola, one of just a few Colorado Republicans these days who could be considered on paper a viable candidate for higher office:
The Californian of the Year is the man, woman, non-binary, or gender-fluid person who has done the most to turn our once liberty-loving state of Colorado into the command and control, over-taxed, over-regulated, over-dependent, hypersensitive, politically correct, buzz-kill state of California.
Senator Priola answers the age-old question—can a Republican also be a communist? Priola proves the answer is a resounding YES!
The Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT) rated Kevin the lowest amongst of his Republican colleagues. This is an especially impressive achievement since he is a signer of the CUT pledge to uphold the spirit and letter of our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) AND to oppose any new net tax increases.
So Kevin had to go above and beyond to urinate on that pledge (and the taxpayers) by voting in favor of tax increases, now called fees—without asking for voter consent—on gasoline, delivery service, and about, oh, roughly $800 million of stuff…
First, let’s take a moment to acknowledge what a classy gentleman Jon Caldara is! Because we generally ignore Caldara and his loser ilk, we rarely get the chance to say so these days.
Caldara has called out Sen. Priola in previous years for his occasional willingness to show the reason enough Republicans used to show to get the vital work of running the state done in a bipartisan manner. Priola’s strong social conservatism, a product of his Catholic faith, apparently doesn’t matter to Caldara if you’re unwilling to support the much more important goal of drowning government in the bathtub.
At the same time, Caldara has a huge interest in the Republican primary field for the newly-created Eighth Congressional District, where Priola is getting the most mentions these days as a potential contender. In a primary contest between Priola and fellow Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, for example, the preference of the party’s fiscal conservative wing is crystal clear–and it’s anybody but Priola:
— Michael Fields (@MichaelCLFields) September 29, 2021
This is why “soft red” Republicans like Kevin Priola, who have tried to carve out a niche in the Republican coalition counter to the party’s prevalent political trends in recent years, are going to have so much trouble surviving in the electoral climate we expect in 2022. A candidate running on a platform that spites their traditional base is at an inherent disadvantage running against opponents who enjoy base support. As competitive as Republican strategists think Priola could be if he survived a GOP primary, the fact remains that Priola can’t win in this highly competitive district without the Republican base solidly behind him.
And that is not going to happen. Five years ago, maybe. But this isn’t the same Republican Party.