We’ve said many times in this space that the Republican bench in Colorado is basically a phone booth. For years, the Colorado GOP has had a hell of a time trying to find decent candidates for any number of important races. Things are as bad for Republicans in 2022 as they have ever been; the GOP has an awful candidate for Governor and a room full of nitwits and nobodies competing for the Republican Senate nomination.
On the local level, the news isn’t much better. Take Jefferson County, for example, which has long been understood to be Colorado’s bellwether county when it comes to statewide outcomes. Several Jefferson County government offices are on the ballot in 2022; most of them will be occupied on the Republican side by retread candidates who have embarrassed themselves repeatedly over the previous decade.
Democrat Lesley Dahlkemper is running for re-election as a county commissioner. Her opponent will be Republican Don Rosier, a former county commissioner who quit that job halfway through a second term in 2017 in order to embark on a different trail of #FAIL (you might also recall Rosier’s brief foray as a U.S. Senate candidate in 2016). Rosier left Jeffco before the end of his term for a job heading up a new development community in Douglas County; he was out on his ass after less than six months. In 2020 he ran for the state legislature (HD-25), losing to Democrat Lisa Cutter by nearly six points. Now he wants voters to elect him to the same job HE LITERALLY QUIT in 2017.
Former Republican county commissioner Libby Szabo, meanwhile, is running for Jeffco Assessor in 2022. Szabo was a member of the State House in 2015 when she abruptly resigned (two months after getting re-elected) in order to take a vacancy appointment in Jeffco and the keys to a special tiny car. Szabo was elected to a full term in 2016 but pummeled in her 2020 re-election effort by Democrat Tracy Kraft-Tharp.
But wait…there’s more dots to connect. Szabo’s 2015 resignation from the State House allowed Republican Lang Sias to finally win something (Sias was on the ballot in Colorado five times in the last decade; he was only successful once). Sias served in HD-27 until he heard the siren call to be GOP gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton’s running mate in 2018. That campaign failed, and Sias is now seeking the GOP nomination for State Treasurer.
Sias is connected to another 2022 Jeffco candidate. When he dropped out of the race in HD-27 in 2018, he was replaced on the Republican ticket by Vicki Pyne, who ran a blatantly-homophobic campaign against Democrat Brianna Titone. Pyne lost a fairly close race, and Titone went on to win re-election in 2020. Pyne is now running for the open Clerk and Recorder seat in Jeffco.
As recently as the early 2000s, Jeffco was home to more Republican elected officials than Democrats. This started to change in the 2010s, speeding up considerably following the 2013 election of three controversial school board members — Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams — who angered the entire county from the first day they took office. Witt, Newkirk, and Williams were recalled by huge margins in 2015, a seismic event that presaged Jeffco’s shift to a blue county. Republicans in Jefferson County government, meanwhile, kept racking up terrible headlines for seat jumping and general corruption/incompetence, which only hastened the Party’s demise. Today, the only Republicans elected to non-municipal offices in Jeffco are State Rep. Colin Larson and Sheriff Jeff Shrader, who is term-limited this year.
Jefferson County Republicans will look to win back seats in 2022 using candidates who have been soundly rejected by voters in recent elections. If you like watching re-runs, you’ll love this GOP ticket.