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August 07, 2023 07:55 AM MDT

Head, Meet Desk; Colorado Republicans Keep Keepin' On

  • by: Colorado Pols

[mantra-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”60%”]“I hope the media is not here, because we’re going to look terrible.”

     — State Rep. Anthony Hartsook (R-Douglas County), speaking at Saturday’s GOP Central Committee meeting.[/mantra-pullquote]

Voting members of the Colorado Republican Party’s “central committee” met over the weekend and decided against opting out of a system that allows Unaffiliated voters to participate in Republican Primary Elections in Colorado. 

Nevertheless, the State GOP will still move forward with a lawsuit it can’t really afford – employing an attorney who may soon be disbarred and/or preparing for a long prison stay – in an effort to overturn the same law that Republican voters just said they didn’t want to abandon. 

As Jesse Paul reported for The Colorado Sun over the weekend:

The Colorado GOP firmly rejected an amendment to the state party’s bylaws on Saturday that would have made it easier for Republicans to take the dramatic step of opting out of Colorado’s 2024 primaries.

The amendment was part of a push by the far right to block Colorado’s roughly 2 million unaffiliated voters from helping select Republicans’ general election candidates. Unaffiliated voters have been allowed to cast ballots in partisan primaries since the 2018 election.

The vote by the state party’s central committee on the bylaws amendment was 186.83 to 149.16 — well below the required two-thirds threshold of support, or roughly 221.76 votes, needed to pass. 

The roll-call tally was preceded by an hour and a half of fierce debate that often devolved into yelling and sometimes pitted sitting Republican state lawmakers against each other.

These four paragraphs are a perfect embodiment of the absolute shitshow that is the current Colorado Republican Party. And that’s without even trying to explain how the GOP can end up with a .76 percent of a vote or why it can’t even conduct a manual vote count correctly

None of this makes any sense, including the actual amendment that failed on Saturday:

The amendment, drafted by conservative commentator Chuck Bonniwell and supported by Colorado GOP Chair Dave Williams, would have made a nonvote by a member of the central committee on the question of whether to opt out of Colorado’s primaries an automatic “yes” vote. 

The unofficial slogan of the Colorado Republican Party.

In other words, if you didn’t cast a vote on Saturday, you were actually voting ‘YES’ on a measure to say ‘NO’ to participating in Colorado’s open primary system, which was enacted by the passage of Proposition 108 in 2016. For some reason, Republicans can still vote again in September to opt out of Colorado’s 2024 primaries; that vote will likely also fail, but it might not matter anyway. 

Why? Because the Colorado Republican Party is still moving ahead with an expensive lawsuit aimed at overturning Proposition 108 altogether – a lawsuit that it filed days before Saturday’s vote even began.

Saturday’s loss was another blow to State Party Chairman Dave Williams, who has devoted the bulk of his time since being elected in March to attacking fellow Republicans and generally not bothering to maintain basic functions of a state party (though former President Donald Trump still approves of Williams, FWIW). Things are going so well for Williams that central committee voters received campaign-style mailers ahead of Saturday’s vote attacking Williams for, among other things, trying to find a way to give himself more power regarding internal Party decisions. 

The State GOP is operating on fumes – with no paid staff and rumors that it may be kicked out of its longtime office space for not paying rent – but Williams is still trying to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars on a lawsuit to overturn Prop. 108. Williams and a cadre of other Republicans want to make it easier for the most right-wing Republican candidates to capture GOP nominations under the head-scratching belief that Colorado voters would elect more Republican candidates if only the people running were much crazier. 

As Paul notes for the Sun, this is definitely not a universally-accepted strategy among Republicans:

While blocking unaffiliated voters from the GOP’s primaries has been an objective of the far right, more moderate Republicans have warned that it could spell further disaster for the Colorado GOP by alienating the state’s largest voting bloc.

More than 434,000 Republicans and 231,000 unaffiliated voters cast ballots in the 2022 GOP primary. In some counties, more unaffiliated voters cast Republican primary ballots than registered Republicans. 

John Eastman speaking at the January 6th, 2021 protest to overturn the 2020 presidential elections.

Williams and his new administration are not interested in listening to dissenters, so they are plowing ahead with their lawsuit and trying to raise lots of money to fund the cause (instead of raising money to do things like, you know, actually helping Republican candidates in 2024). That money, if collected, will help pay for the services of one John Eastman, the disgraced former visiting conservative scholar at the University of Colorado and the legal architect of former President Donald Trump’s attempted coup in 2020-21. Eastman has been identified as “co-conspirator 2” in the indictment filed last week by the Justice Department that historians say could be the most consequential legal case in modern American history, but the State GOP thinks he is a fine choice to oversee their anti-Prop. 108 lawsuit. 

Did we mention that Republicans already tried to legally overturn Prop. 108 in 2022 and failed? But they didn’t have John Eastman then…oh, wait, yeah they did

We don’t truly believe that Dave Williams is actually a deep-cover operative working for Democrats in order to destroy the Colorado GOP once and for all.

But we can’t rule it out anymore. 


8 thoughts on “Head, Meet Desk; Colorado Republicans Keep Keepin’ On

  1. Was this proposed bylaw change applicable only to the vote of opting out of semi-open primaries or would the failing-to-attend-counting-as-yes-votes rule have applied to other votes of the central committee?


  2. Ultimately this is what happens with every party that advocates for fierce/rugged individualism or states' rights: fear of the collective prevents them from agreeing on anything.

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