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February 29, 2024 10:59 AM UTC

Nobody Seems to Like Dave Williams, So How is he Still State GOP Chairman?

  • by: Colorado Pols

As Bente Birkeland and Caitlyn Kim reported Wednesday for Colorado Public Radio:

Former President Ronald Reagan famously quipped that the Eleventh Commandment was, “thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.”

As Colorado GOP chair Dave Williams approaches his one-year anniversary in the job, it’s a commandment he regularly breaches. Under his leadership, Williams is just as likely to attack Republicans who don’t hew to his belief of what the party should represent, as to take on Democrats.

This effort to police fellow party members and elected officials highlights the broader divisions among Trump supporters and more traditional conservatives in the Republican ranks. And it comes at a difficult time for the party; Republicans have had anemic election results in recent years, losing most statewide races by double digits…

…Williams has defended his tenure, blaming ‘RINOs’ — Republicans in Name Only — for the party’s recent string of losses and saying they “can’t stand seeing conservatives who support (Donald) Trump leading the party.”

Dave Williams always makes sure that Dave Williams gets paid.

Since his first day on the job, State GOP Chair Dave Williams has devoted much of his time to attacking other Republicans — particularly his past and future political opponents in CO-05, where he is once again running for Congress:

Williams used the state party email distribution list to announce his run for the seat, reassuring members that while he planned to remain as chair through the primary, “nothing will change for the Colorado Republican Party.”

But subsequent party emails have taken aim at one of Williams’ most prominent primary opponents, radio host Jeff Crank.

This week, the state party attacked the Koch-backed group, Americans for Prosperity for its support of Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley. The email featured a photo of Crank standing next to Haley at the top.

“Together, we can overcome the ‘Never-Trump’ phony hypocrites like Americans for Prosperity and their sell-out lobbyists like Jeff Crank,” the email read. Crank is a regional vice president for AFP and hosts a podcast for the organization.

“Don’t give AFP or Jeff Crank your money or contact information,” the email urged.

Dave Williams

We openly wondered earlier this month whether or not any Colorado Republican would step up to put a stop to Williams’ pillaging of party resources. While plenty of Republicans will criticize Williams’s performance as GOP Chair — including former House Minority Mike Lynch telling CPR that “I don’t trust the state party anymore” — it appears that none of them are willing to do more than just complain.

Perhaps this is because Williams has been careful to cultivate at least some level of mutually-assured protection when he’s not using state party resources to promote his congressional campaign or extorting GOP Presidential campaigns for money. In January, Williams conspicuously voiced his support for efforts to remove Mike Lynch as House Minority Leader — another example of violating Reagan’s infamous “11th Commandment” — which pleased at least one loudmouth Republican lawmaker. Back to the CPR story:

Republican state Rep. Scott Bottoms of Colorado Springs, who helped lead the effort to remove Lynch from leadership, believes it’s absolutely appropriate for Williams as party chair, to weigh in on Republican officials.

“He was doing that as the state party chair when somebody had really violated our ethics and who we are as a party,” said Bottoms.

Bottoms said he was happy with Williams’ overall leadership of the state party, saying he has brought vision and true leadership and returned the GOP back to a more “conservative context.” [Pols emphasis]

He’s also fine with Williams running in a competitive primary race while serving as chair.

“I do feel strongly that he should be able to run.” Bottoms said it would be Williams’ decision on whether to step down. “I think that’s his personal call. I don’t want our state party to not have leadership,” he said. “Now, does he need to be neutral in primaries? Obviously he has to be, but he’s also running, so he has to be able to run his campaign.”

The “Unambiguously Lame Duo” of Reps. Scott Bottoms and Ken DeGraaf

It’s interesting to see such high praise from Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms, a freshman lawmaker who has quickly cemented himself as one of the GOP’s foremost lunatics. Bottoms believes that he is the “real” leader of the House GOP caucus and fancies himself as something of a behind-the-scenes puppeteer.

Bottoms was the main voice behind the attempted ouster of Lynch, the latter of whom survived an initial vote to remove him as Minority Leader but eventually resigned under pressure. Efforts to remove Lynch as caucus leader happened just after longtime Congressman Doug Lamborn announced that he would not seek re-election in CO-05. Why is this important? Williams tried unsuccessfully to defeat Lamborn in a 2022 Primary Election and was quick to start a new campaign with Lamborn out of the way in 2024, but there were other Republicans interested in CO-05 as well. Freshman State Rep. Rose Pugliese was among those eyeing Lamborn’s seat; she would have been a significant problem for Williams in part because she could have positioned herself as the first female to represent CO-05.

Following Lynch’s departure, the hot rumor at the State Capitol was that Williams had struck a deal to help Pugliese get enough votes to become the new Minority Leader (which was at least a somewhat-logical transition) if Pugliese would stay out of the race for Congress in CO-05. Since there are only 19 Republicans in the State House, even a small number of defections would be a problem for Pugliese — which is why she needed help get her over the hump. We don’t know how each Republican voted in that secret ballot for Minority Leader, but it’s likely that Bottoms helped Pugliese win the Minority Leader position by whipping votes away from Rep. Matt Soper and Rep. Ken DeGraaf. Since DeGraaf and Bottoms are buddies, it’s also possible that DeGraaf’s entire purpose for seeking Minority Leader was to leech enough support away from Soper so that Pugliese could triumph.

Williams succeeded in keeping Pugliese out of his way in CO-05, while Pugliese got what she wanted by becoming House Minority Leader. And Bottoms? He got to play puppet master and was elevated from “pointless loud annoyance” to “somewhat respected loud annoyance.” You could see this benefit for Bottoms in an Op-Ed in mid-February that ran in the Greeley Tribune; the opinion piece was signed by both Pugliese and Bottoms, an obvious way for Bottoms to start to earn more credibility among a wider range of Republicans. You can also see how this deal comes full circle with Bottoms’s full-throated support for Williams in the CPR story noted above.

What Williams lacks in moral conviction he makes up for with shrewd political maneuvering — not unlike his idol, Donald Trump. We wouldn’t at all be surprised, for example, if Trump endorses Williams for Congress ahead of the June Primary Election after Williams directed the State GOP Central Committee to endorse Trump well before “Super Tuesday.”

Dave Williams doesn’t care about what happens to the State Republican Party because becoming Chairman was always a means to another end for him (again, you can see the Trump comparisons). Nobody in the Republican Party is stopping Williams because there are enough individuals who stand to benefit from his “open for grafting” policy. And this is now the Colorado Republican Party spirals away into total irrelevance.


4 thoughts on “Nobody Seems to Like Dave Williams, So How is he Still State GOP Chairman?

  1. The reason he's still chair is "tribal purity" in the Colorado Republican Party.

    In their minds, if they are against any one thing that Williams does and believes then they must be against EVERYTHING that Williams does and believes to take actuion but if they were against EVERYTHING that Williams does and believes then the wouldn't be Republicans so they just… do nothing.

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