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March 16, 2023 11:27 AM UTC

They Will Eat Dave Williams Too: A List of the Last 6 Poor Souls To Lead the State GOP

  • by: Jason Salzman

(Meat’s back on the menu, boys — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

When he decided not to seek another term as leader of the Colorado Republican Party, Dick Wadhams wrote in a 2011 good-riddance letter to fellow Republicans that he was tired of GOP activists who see “conspiracies around every corner.” (Emphasis: That was 2011.)

Poor Wadhams’ head is obviously spinning around his neck these days, as he furiously re-writes the same stuff — except in a fully blue state now, a dozen years later. You wouldn’t think Wadhams would have such stamina.


Over the weekend, election conspiracist and Trump booster extraordinaire Dave Williams won the election to lead Colorado’s Republican Party.

There’s no dispute that Williams is the type of Republican Wadhams loves to hate, now and 12 years ago.

Williams represents a faction of the party that’s turned not only against Wadhams, but against each of the last five leaders of the Republican Party in Colorado. All five have been run out after one, most after one term in office, four of them by angry right-wing grassroots forces within the party.

Will this happen to Williams as well, the most extreme right-wing conspiracist to lead Colorado’s Republican Party in memory?

If you look at the list below, and you examine the evidence objectively, you conclude that yes, the Republican right will turn against him too. It’s their culture.

Kristi Burton Brown. Burton Brown, elected to lead the state party in 2021, is clearly an extremist. She first made a name for herself trying to pass personhood abortion bans in Colorado and she managed Boebert’s campaign for a stint. She announced she would not seek re-election as GOP leader after she found herself in the crosshairs of fellow Republicans who said she wasn’t conservative enough. Late last year, about 100 Republicans — including indicted Mesa County’s Clerk Tina Peters — gathered in front of party headquarters and called for her ouster, due in part to her “treachery.” One rally speaker, Anil Mathai, said, “We have a Republican Party that is full of whores!”

Ken Buck. As a Freedom Caucus member from Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, Buck hasn’t been known as a squish among Colorado Republicans. But in 2019 when he took on double duty as the state chair of the party, his fate was sealed by two factors. As state GOP candidates continued to slide into electoral oblivion, the buck had to stop somewhere and it stopped with the head of the party. Also, Buck was centered in an intra-party spat concerning a primary election ballot dispute between candidates in an El Paso County district. Along with the state central committee, Buck intervened to force a local party officer to place a veteran party activist on the primary ballot despite that candidate’s failure to meet the required threshold. That episode ended with state courts ruling against Buck and the party in that dispute, staining Buck’s tenure as chair.

Jeff Hays. Hays won in 2017 with the backing of Wayne Williams, with his opponent supported by Anil Mathai (who called Republicans whores this year) and El Paso Republican Vicki Tonkins. The grassroots faction subsequently picked up steam and drove Hays from power after one short term.

Steve House. House resigned from his post after he was nearly deposed by fellow Republicans Cynthia Coffman, Becky Mizel, and Tom Tancredo in 2015, in part, it appeared, for not selecting raducak Republican Ted Harvey to serve as executive director. That controversy included accusations of blackmail and allegations of an affair contributing to the drama.

Ryan Call. Call was voted out of office in a GOP uprising after a tumultuous tenure, during which he was on the hot seat for creating a PAC that his GOP critics saw as a vehicle to attack fellow Republicans. He was also vilified by Republican activists for opposing the recall of a Democratic state senator in Westminister.

Dick Wadhams. Wadhams’ 2011 good-bye letter to Republicans sounded as if it could have been written today. He wrote that he was tired of GOP activists who see “conspiracies around every corner.” Wadhams possibly holds the distinction of being among the first Republicans to call fellow Republicans conspiracists.

Michael Lund is a co-author of this post.


5 thoughts on “They Will Eat Dave Williams Too: A List of the Last 6 Poor Souls To Lead the State GOP

  1. Of course, they will ditch Dave after they continue to lose seats in the General Assembly and with any luck, CD 3 as well.

    The Colorado GOP reminds me of the French Revolution where today's radicals are declared to be reactionaries tomorrow.

  2. Ryan Call's "tumultous tenure" included misappropriating more than $200k in donations to that PAC, leading to his disbarment and relocation to Utah.  At least Williams can't get himself disbarred.  Indicted? probably

      1. More like escape from Colorado.  I suspect he took the disbarment to avoid criminal prosecution, but that is just speculation on my part

    1. Call also didn't report a $1 million donation, as I recall.  So, I think he pretty convincingly torpedoed himself as an attorney and "treasurer." 

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