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August 21, 2013 12:03 PM UTC

Colorado GOP: It's Time To Party Like It's 2009

  • by: Colorado Pols


The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza has a great post up this morning, citing a number of political incidents leading him to the conclusion that despite whatever "momentum" and circumstantial advantages they can claim, today's Republicans "are their own worst enemy."

“The party is acting as if the entire world is a GOP primary,” said Mike Murphy, a prominent Republican campaign consultant. “That is a very dangerous way to operate. We have massive image problems with the greater electorate, and the silly antics of the purist wing are making our dire problems even worse.”

Cillizza cites a number of news stories from Tuesday, including the humorous flap over right-wing Sen. Ted Cruz's citizenship, red-on-red attacks on southern GOP U.S. Senators, and the resignation of a GOP county chair in Iowa, saying the party "has declared war on science and common sense." But locals will especially note his fifth and last example:

Weld County (Colorado) got approval on Tuesday to secede from the rest of the state. The move was in reaction to the Democratic-controlled legislature’s action on guns and oil exploration. [Pols emphasis]

Taken one by one, none of the above developments is all that big a deal. Taken together, they illustrate that the Republican party is on the verge of splitting in two. Now, to be clear, that split won’t happen. The two major parties are the two major parties for a reason. Disputes work themselves out. The pendulum swings.

But, for now, Republicans are caught in the midst of an increasingly public battle between establishment and, for lack of a better term, tea party wings that is — more than anything Democrats have done — complicating the GOP’s path back to power in 2016.


It's very difficult to find a Republican in Colorado today who isn't extremely bullish on the party's "resurgence," citing two main storylines: the recall elections underway against two Colorado Senators, and the "movement" among some rural counties in Colorado to secede from the rest of the state. The secession "movement" is mostly the work of obscure county-level politicians exploiting traditional rural resentments, while the recalls underway against two Colorado Senators are taking advantage of a low threshold for reaching the ballot–followed by massive infusions of usual-suspect GOP campaign cash to manufacture legitimacy around an effort now openly in pursuit of what were once ulterior motives.

For the purposes of firing up the conservative base, both of these storylines are great for Republicans. But at least in Colorado, and elsewhere as national observers like Cillizza are better able to see, the longer term consequences of fostering a 2009-imitative "backlash" may greatly outweigh the short-term satisfaction of pointlessly voting to secede from the state, or recalling a couple of circumstantially vulnerable state lawmakers.

The question is, where does this end up? 

Republicans may be able to capitalize opportunistically on recalls where they have a circumstantial advantage, and activate a reliable base of rural conservative supporters, but neither of these developments can change the long-term demographic peril Republicans find themselves in here. Converting every voting-age citizen in Phillips County (population 4,400) into a pitchfork-bearing secessionist won't win them a single race in Jefferson County. Pouring massively disproportionate resources into two (really mostly one) state senate race provides no barometer of general election success even if they prevail. And along the way, the collateral damage of this lurch to the right with moderate voters jeopardizes those same future general election prospects.

Today's story from Cillizza looks at a broader range of events from across the nation, with an eye toward the 2016 presidential race. We think, much like in 2010 when local Republicans tried and failed to catch the midterm "GOP wave," Colorado is seeing the high water mark of the GOP's message campaign very early in the cycle: and depending on the choices Republicans make in the upcoming gubernatorial and Senate primaries, there could be a long way down from their present giddy high.

In 2009, no one could predict that Dan Maes would win the GOP primary. But the seeds were already sown.


18 thoughts on “Colorado GOP: It’s Time To Party Like It’s 2009

  1. THINK.  This is not about 2016, IMHO.  This is about creating public opinion to support the legislative agenda of House Republicans.  Obama has been sidelined, not just by the repubs, but Hillary has stolen all the oxygen, to say nothing of Obama's best political operatives.  The repubs intend to run the show for the next 15 months so that they can take over the Senate.

    The problem with giving too much attention to Washingtion DC pundits, like Cillizza,

    is that DC does not have local elections.  Even if the pundits live in the 'burbs, they simply do not understand the importance, or the dynamics, of state politics, IMHO.


    1. From the sounds of things, Senate Republicans are lining up to have only a slightly better year than they've had the past two election cycles. McConnell is facing a tougher time than he expected (and there's a winger breathing down his neck for a primary); Landreau is doing better than any Democrat in her state has an expectation of doing. We have a chance at picking up a seat in Pennsylvania against former Club For Growth president Pat Toomey, and another in New Hampshire against first-timer Kelly Ayotte. And the wingers have proven that they're out looking to knock off "too moderate" Republican Senators like Lamar Alexander, creating even more opportunities for Democrats.

      Republicans might think this is about setting the agenda, but increasingly it looks like they've gone too far on that agenda already. They risk turning off the remaining moderate Republicans and independents, and that's not going to be good for them.

      Finally, having Republicans in control of the Senate in 2014 only stalls government further; Obama being a lame duck can veto whatever he wants with little consequence – and chances are, the packages he's given to veto would be whack-a-doodle crazy if Republicans do gain control.

      Which brings us to 2016. Republicans have a tough schedule in the Senate for 2016; unlike the 2012 and 2014 classes which are favorable to them, 2016 is hard for Republicans. The likelihood that they have control of the Senate in 2017 is minimal at best. And it's looking like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul might be the GOP candidate – which is good for Dems considering how out of control they each are.

      1. Feel better, PR?  No problem if the dems lose the Senate in 2014 and the repubs continue with their stranglehold on Congress?  The lame duck president can just veto everything.  Sound great.  Why was I even the least bit concerned?  Things are going just fine for dems.

        1. Your point was that this is a setup for getting people to accept the Republican agenda. My point is that even in a worst-case scenario, the Republican agenda just looks worse than it already does.

          Make no mistake – the 2014 Senate elections are going to be tough. But Republicans attempting to get the public behind their agenda right now is like a bull walking through a china shop. Every time they turn around it seems they break something else, pissing off the shop owner even more. You think these ongoing extremist whine-fests are helping to sway public opinion toward their POV; I think you're wrong.

        2. The thing is, there aren't just two choices. Things don't have to be either "just fine" or "we're all gonna die." Those who don't share your views on guaranteed rightie hegemony and Dem doom in every election (views which  haven't had such a great record of being born out, I might add) aren't all idiots who think everything is going to be roses and rainbows. 

  2. Pols, your theory assumes that Democrats are incapable of doing anything that upsets Colorado voters, and that only actions by Republicans matter to the voter. But Democrat overreach this year has completely upset that equation. Now, Democrats are vulnerable to the charge of extremism, not Republicans.

    I know I'm about to get mobbed for disagreeing with the Pols party line, but I felt this was important to add to your post.

    1. Oh yeah, protecting our children from unnecessary peril by passing sensible gun safety measures is the very definition of EXTREMISM!!!!!!!

      Keep digging that hole, GOP.  Let us know when you reach China.

    2. Say what, Libertadus?

      your theory assumes that Democrats are incapable of doing anything that upsets Colorado voters,

      Would you mind elaborating on this a bit so I can understand just WHAT THE FUCK you are talking about?

  3. Oh, and here's why it's so tough getting an intelligent GOP troll to actually debate on this site:

    The Democratic-leaning polling firm, which provided its results to Talking Points Memo, found that 29 percent of Louisiana Republicans said Obama was responsible for the Katrina response. Twenty-eight percent put the blame on President George W. Bush, whose administration did in fact oversee the federal response to Katrina. Nearly half (44 percent) of the Louisiana Republicans polled didn't know who to blame (because you know, the world works in such mysterious ways — Davie).

    From 0% to 29% "Blame Obama-ists" in just 5 years.  At that rate, nearly all Republicans will blame him for Katrina when he leaves office in 2017!

  4. This is the base that doesn't care what the problem is. It's Obama's fault. Never mind he was a freshman Senator when Katrina happened. Then there's the near half who probably couldn't tell you after all these years, all eight of them, who was President then  or exactly what went down. It would be comical if it wasn't so disturbing.

  5. Sure it was Indiana? Could have sworn the resigning  Republican County Chair I saw on TV today was from Iowa. He was very conservative but no longer felt comfortable with the hateful rhetoric he heard at every level; national, state and county. Didn't feel comfortable at meetings or supporting candidates who indulged in the rhetoric with which he was so uncomfortable. Has changed to independent. 

    Said he'd been struggling with the decision for some time but the King cantaloupe calves comment was the last straw. He feels he isn't any less conservative than he ever was but that the party has moved to such an extreme he doesn't belong in it any more.

    Were there two?  

  6. Yeah. …Maes triumphed over McInnis in 2010 partly because McInnis' lies were just a tad more outrageous than Maes' lies.  Tancredo mined a vein of anti-immigrant sentiment. It looks as though Mad Tommy T is going for a repeat performance.  He got 35% of the vote in 2010, and I don't underestimate his appeal to a segment of Colorado voters. He's way more formidable for Governor than Gessler.

    In 2010, aided by infusions of labor and organization from Organizing for America, which was helping Senator Bennet to beat Buck, Hickenlooper won. I'm not implying anything illegal; Dems in state races got no $$ from the Federales, and paid staff didn't get involved in local races. But volunteer canvassers were passionate; if they were carrying literature for Bennet, then carrying for Hick and Perlmutter and whoever local was just a couple more pieces, and no one really controls what a volunteer does.

    And Dems also won in Colorado in 2010 because while Republicans were cannibalizing each other,  Dems were pooling resources and cooperating.

    Is that what you're implying, Pols? That if the Republicans don't want a repeat of Colorado 2010, they need to start doing it like the Dems – put aside their differences, cooperate from the top of the ticket to the bottom,  get smart about targeted data, and inspire an army of passionate volunteers?

    If so,  I think that it's beyond them. The cooperating and the putting aside of differences, anyway.

    Moderatus, Dems can be criticized on this site, and frequently are.  Examples: Obama and NSA / whistleblower lack of transparency. Hickenlooper and fracking.  Udall and votes against outlawing Monsanto GMOs in Colorado (well, I haven't seen that on Pols, but it should be).  The difference is that we still keep a big picture in mind and work together.

    Oh yeah, and they have to have decent candidates. 



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