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May 22, 2023 01:36 PM UTC

Republicans Reflect on Colorado Springs Mayoral Race

  • by: Heidi Beedle

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Pundits and politicos across the country have heralded the victory of Yemi Mobolade over Republican Wayne Williams in the Colorado Springs mayoral race as a great win for progressive Democrats in Colorado Springs, despite the fact that Mobolade is not a Democrat and has a history of union-busting and wage theft as a business owner.

“We figured it would be close, but we didn’t certainly expect it would be a landslide victory for [Mobolade],” said Colorado GOP Chair Dave Williams during a May 17 appearance on George Brauchler’s radio show. “That’s something that we should all be concerned with — a wake-up call for us.”

Williams credits Mobolade’s victory in part to dissension among Colorado Springs Republicans. “There was not a consensus Republican pick right after that first round,” he said. “I think that really did a lot of damage to Wayne. Then, of course, there was the negative campaigning that really beat up Wayne during that first round due to some internal, local, developer fights where they were picking sides. No one laid a finger on [Mobolade], so [Mobolade] got to benefit from just positive campaigning while Wayne was on its heels the whole time.”

Much of the opposition against Williams came not from liberals or progressives, but the rabid faction of election-deniers and “RINO hunters” who have supported Dave Williams and embattled El Paso County GOP Chair Vickie Tonkins. Wayne Williams’ ties to Runbeck Election Systems have made him, and his wife, El Paso County Commissioner Holly Williams, central figures in local election conspiracies and the target of perennial defamation lawsuit defendant Joe Oltmann, whose vocal support for fringe candidates like Tina Peters and Ron Hanks have proved disastrous for Colorado’s Republican party.

One of Oltmann’s attacks against Wayne Williams.

“I mean, doing a doing a commercial with [Colorado Secretary of State] Jena Griswold [D] as well, that didn’t help him amongst the base,” admitted Dave Williams.

Former Colorado GOP Chair Dick Wadhams was more direct in his assessment of mayoral race.

“Everything was falling in line for the effort for [Mobolade],” said Wadhams, who followed Williams on the same Brauchler radio show. “Frankly, the El Paso County Republican Party can be charitably called a dumpster fire for the last several elections. I mean, the divisions within the party, the lawsuits flying around and that didn’t help either. But [Mobolade] ran in many ways a perfect campaign. He did not run as a Democrat.”

Wadhams saw the writing on the wall after last year’s poor performance for Republicans in El Paso County, and credits Mobolade’s victory more to unaffiliated voters than Democrats. “In 2022, our candidates for U.S. Senate and secretary of state, and the attorney general and treasurer, only got 52% in El Paso [County],” he said. “When a Republican statewide candidate only gets 52% [in El Paso County], that is a huge defeat. Clearly, there has been a shift among unaffiliated voters. Right now in El Paso County — these are numbers as of May 1st — there are 86,000 Democrats, 147,000 Republicans. And get this: 228,000 unaffiliated voters.”

Wadhams blames much of the unaffiliated shift on Republican support for former President Donald Trump. “El Paso County is not a Republican stronghold any more,” he said. “As we’ve seen across the state, whether it be Jefferson [County], Arapahoe [County] or any part of the state, unaffiliated voters cut against us in the last three election cycles because of their antipathy to Donald Trump, and anybody who tries to disagree with that is they’re living in a dream world. I guess as long as our party is defined by Donald Trump, in Colorado, these unaffiliated voters are going to continue to abandon us, not only in this mayor’s race in the spring, but in every election in competitive legislative races and every other race up and down.”

Mobolade described his goals and vision as mayor during a Wednesday appearance on former Republican, but still a Trump supporter, Mandy Connell’s radio show. “What resonates with my leadership is a vision and ideas that transcend party politics and to put our quality of life ahead of party politics,” he said. “That is a starting point. We start from that place and we work backwards, and if the idea or the solution ends up being conservative, it is because that’s what our city needs, not because it’s conservative. Yes, we check that box, it’s conservative. And if the solution that benefits our city sounds more liberal. It’s not because it’s liberal, it’s because that’s what our city needs. And it just so happens to check that box. This is how I’m going to be leading our city.”


13 thoughts on “Republicans Reflect on Colorado Springs Mayoral Race

  1. To make the decline of the El Paso County Republican Party (and the state Republican Party for that matter) even more obvious, today’s edition of the Colorado Sun compared the registration percentages between 2013 and today:

    “As with the rest of the state, the number of active unaffiliated voters in El Paso County has increased to 48% this year from 31% at the end of April 2013. The percentage of active Republican voters declined to 31% from 46%, while Democrats saw a decline to 18% from 22%.”

    Those numbers speak volumes. The Republican Party in El Paso County is in steep decline and has all but become a neutral factor in a statewide election. With Jefferson, Arapahoe, and Larimer counties, all former Republican strongholds, already in the Blue column, it is now virtually impossible for the Republicans to win a statewide elected office unless the Democrats nominate a lunatic. To add to the Republican decline is the fact that Denver and Boulder counties are bluer than ever and Adams, Broomfield, and Pueblo counties remain in the Democratic column. Of the large counties, that leaves only Weld, Douglas, and Mesa in the Republican column and there are cracks in the firmament in Douglas. Simply put, there are not enough Republican strongholds left in Colorado to form a winning coalition in statewide elections. They have no one else to blame but themselves.

    1. They need a strategic partnership with the "No Labels" Party.

      If you can get No Labels to pull enough votes from the Democrats, then the Republicans (i.e. MAGA) can be elected.

    2. With the various changes in the registration process, after 2013 the "default" registration is "Unaffiliated." Add that the Unaffiliated get primary ballots from all parties and can choose which to return. 

      For everyone other than those who want to be involved in a party's machinery or run for office, there's no particular advantage to claiming an affiliation. 

    3. Insightful analysis. One of the main reasons I think Republicans have failed so miserably in the state is their reluctance or outright refusal to to admit that the state is no longer politically favorable to them. Most would use this moment to moderate their message and get more attuned with what Colorado voters actually want (you know, what Democrats have done since 20ish years ago). Instead the COGOP has become as MAGA as the GOP in deeply red states like Alabama or Mississippi. They instead double down on wanting to advance anti-abortion laws, anti-LGBT laws, anti-environmental and so much more when voters have loudly rejected such things for years now and where polls show that Colorado voters overwhelmingly support the things the state GOP wants to reduce or outright stop/ban. And when they are such a minority, you would think they would strike a note of bipartisanship and moderation but nope, they stonewall and purpose insane bills not even many of their constituents want.

      It also speaks volumes that the chair of the COGOP is an election-denier, a thing only found among fellow GOP chairs in red or purple states and even regulated to only some at that. The COGOP is basically a far-right party operating in a moderate blue state. As this rate, it's hard to imagine the GOP having any significant influence at the state capitol for the foreseeable future. I consider myself a moderate (and former ticket-splitter) but the shitshow that is the Colorado GOP and the GOP in general has made me stop voting Republican since 2016.

      1. True enough but the Dems figured out how to win elections even earlier than 2003.

        Even which Republicans outnumber Democrats in Colorado in the '70's, '80's and '90's, some Democrats figured out how to win: Dick Lamm (I know, he was a DINO), Gary Hart, Roy Romer (I know, another DINO), Tim Wirth, and Ben Nighthorse Campbell (truly a DINO until he dropped the act and came out as a Republican).

        They may not have qualified to be member of the Squad or otherwise pandered to the Give-Us-Free-Stuff constituency, but with the exception of Hart's opponent, Mary Estelle Buchanan, in 1980, they were better than their Republican opponents.

    4. Also wanted to add: it's very charitable to assume that Republicans would still have a shot in a statewide election if CODEMS advanced a freak show as if the COGOP won't advance even worse candidates. Recent history makes me doubt the GOP has plans to nominate sane people at any level much less a statewide one. Gardner was literally the best the GOP had at a state level, a success story you say, and he lost reelection by a very comfortable amount. If Gardner was considered the future of the COGOP, then things aren't good at all for them.

    1. Agreed. Now I believe some Republicans are capable of reflection. Wadhams is capable of reflection. But the idea of Dave Williams taking any time to reflect on the stances and ideals of the CO GOP? lolno.

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