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September 07, 2023 01:26 PM UTC

CO GOP Leaders Want To End Primary Neutrality Rule So They Can Oppose Their Own Candidates

  • by: Erik Maulbetsch

(There is no Colorado GOP anymore, it’s the Dave Williams Club now — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP Chair Dave Williams, parliamentarian.

If Colorado GOP leaders get their way, the party could campaign against some of its own candidates in next spring’s primary election.

The party’s Bylaws Committee is recommending an amendment that would alter the longstanding primary neutrality rule to permit GOP entities to oppose those candidates who avoid the assembly/convention route and instead petition onto the ballot. The proposal will be voted on by the state central committee at its Fall Meeting at the end of this month.

The bylaw currently reads: “No candidate…shall be endorsed, supported, or opposed by the CRC, acting as an entity, or by its state officers or committees, before the Primary Election, unless such candidate is unopposed in the Primary election…”

The proposed amendment would add:

“…Or the candidate has gained access to the primary election ballot but has not participated in the applicable authorized Republican assembly/convention. Additionally, the CRC, and the various Republican county and district central committees, have no obligation to support, and may oppose, any candidate who has gained access to the primary election ballot outside of the assembly/convention process. Personal contributions of time or money to candidates by CRC officers or CRC committee members shall not be considered to be “endorsements” or “support” or “opposition” in violation of this Section unless the officer or committee member uses their official position to encourage other people to support or oppose a pre-primary candidate going through the Convention/Assembly process.After the Primary Election is over, nothing in this Section shall impair the CRC’s obligation to support the Republican nominee to the General Election.

Screenshot of proposed bylaw amendment circulated to Colorado Republican Party Central Committee members.

The proposed amendment marks yet another rift between the grassroots MAGA faction currently in charge of the party and the so-called “establishment” or donor wing which has supported more moderate candidates such as construction magnate Joe O’Dea, last year’s Senate hopeful. O’Dea petitioned onto the primary ballot, thereby avoiding a risky assembly fight with state Rep. Ron Hanks, an election denier and Jan 6 participant whom O’Dea subsequently defeated in the primary.

Had this amendment been in place last summer, it would have dramatically changed the nature of the race, as various GOP county parties and individual leaders would have been free to publicly discourage their members from voting for him. In fact, the issue of party endorsement did impact the race, as O’Dea’s campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over anonymous mailers claiming the state party had endorsed Hanks.

The meeting is scheduled for Sept. 30 at 9 a.m. at The Rock Church in Castle Rock.

Adding further intrigue to the vote, the proposed rules for the meeting incorporate another change that would likely help its passage: the party is limiting to three the number of proxies voting members may hold to vote on behalf of committee members who are unable to attend.

GOP Chairman Dave Williams did not respond to an email requesting comment. This article will be updated with any response received.

Reached for comment, former El Paso County GOP chair Eli Bremer, who was also a 2022 U.S. Senate primary candidate, offered the following statement:

“While everyone else in the political world is playing chess, the State GOP is playing Hungry Hippos. But I have to hand it to them… Just when I think they have reached the apex of their stupidity, they come up with another ludicrous plan in a pathetic attempt to consolidate power and give the middle finger to Republican voters,” says Bremer. “The fringe group that has taken over the Colorado GOP knows they can never win over Republican voters, so they are continuing to try to change the rules to mitigate the wisdom of the primary electorate. If they spent half as much time actually doing the job of supporting Republicans as they do trying to rig the system, maybe they would be able to raise money and create a functional organization. As it stands, the Colorado GOP is a laughingstock nationwide as they tilt at windmills rather than do anything that resembles a constructive effort for a political party.”


2 thoughts on “CO GOP Leaders Want To End Primary Neutrality Rule So They Can Oppose Their Own Candidates

  1. Looking forward to this passing so that we can have this scenario:

    – Colorado GOP campaigns against a Republican candidate in the primary to back a MAGA extremist.

    – The MAGA extremist loses in the primary so the Colorado GOP has to choose to support the Republican candidate in the general election they campaigned against or… wait, what is the "or"?

    These folks can't even be trusted to play Hungry Hungry Hippos. They'd just stick the balls up their noses.

    1. There is precedent for the CO GOP ditching its nominated candidate and – drum roll, please – supporting the American Constitution Party (“ACP”) candidate.

      Remember way back in 2010 when GOP voters nominated Dan Maes for governor? He was about as popular a general election candidate as an outbreak of genital herpes on a singles cruise, so GOP voters fled to the ACP en masse. The ACP, of course, had to dump its unknown nominee and install Tommy “Tank” Tancredo as its replacement candidate. Tank ended up with 37% of the vote to the hapless Maes’ 10%.

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