Colorado Republicans Choose Irrelevance for 2016

Rick Santorum.

Colorado Republicans have enacted “The Santorum Rule” for 2016.

Colorado Republicans have decided not to formally select a candidate for President in 2016 so that they can (theoretically) play a bigger role in selecting a candidate for President in 2016.

Confused? You should be. Colorado is currently the only state in the country where Republicans are essentially taking a pass on participating in the early nomination process, in large part because there are too many bad Republican candidates for President. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post:

Colorado will not pick a Republican candidate for president in its 2016 caucus after party leaders approved a little-noticed shift that is likely to diminish the swing state’s clout in the most open nomination contest in the modern era.

The GOP executive committee voted Friday to cancel the traditional presidential preference poll at the caucus after the national party changed its rules to require a state’s delegates to support the candidate that wins.

What in the name of Ronald Reagan’s ghost is going on in Colorado? There is some actual logic behind Friday’s decision — though not necessarily good logic:

State Republican Party Chairman Steve House said the party’s 24-member-executive committee made a unanimous decision — six members were absent — to skip the preference poll. He said the move would give Colorado delegates the freedom to support any candidate eligible at the Cleveland convention in July. Republican National Committee officials said the change complies with strict party rules.

“If we do a binding presidential preference poll, we would then pledge our delegates … and the candidates we bind them to may not be in the race by the time we get to the convention,” House said in an interview Tuesday. [Pols emphasis]

You might call this “The Santorum Rule,” the result of a strange 2012 cycle whereby former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum somehow ended up with the support of the Colorado delegation not long before his entire campaign cratered. The solution to this problem, according to House and other Republicans, is to skip the “preference poll” part of the GOP caucus so that Republicans don’t feel compelled to support a campaign that no longer exists by the time the Republican National Convention convenes in late July.

In other words, Colorado Republicans don’t want to be forced to select — and continue to support — a bad candidate in a field of bad candidates. There is some disagreement about whether or not this will cause Republican candidates to largely avoid Colorado through 2016; you could argue that Republicans will actually work harder in Colorado in order to make sure that they hold on to delegates who could change their mind at any time.

The upside, if you can call it that, is that Colorado Republicans could wield a lot of power if the 2016 GOP nomination comes down to a brokered deal at the National Convention. Of course, we haven’t seen a brokered convention in this country in more than 60 years, and the likelihood that it will happen in 2016 is about as probable as Donald Trump growing a new head of hair.

The Colorado Republican Party has had an odd year in 2015. They elected Steve House as their new State Party Chair in March, despite a fairly successful 2014 election cycle under Ryan Callthree months later a group of GOP leaders, including Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, tried to blackmail House into resigning from the job (and as it turns out, efforts to oust House probably began on the very day he was first elected). Republicans continue to insist that incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is beatable, yet they can’t find anybody to actually run against him in 2016. Oh, and don’t forget…this?

When viewed with the proper amount of perspective, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that GOP leaders decided against participating in the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary…

…On second thought: Nope, it’s still really, really weird.

25 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. The usefulness is even smaller. It only gives Colorado leverage if in the 1st round a candidate falls barely short and Colorado's unpledged delegates are enough to put him over the top.
    If Colorado isn't enough to secure it for a candidate all on their own in the 1st round, we go to a second round where every State has unpledged delegates, and Colorado's gambit is completely useless.
    [bonus failure: if the person who fell just short is the person that the Colorado delegation was going to select anyhow, then they at best make their candidate look marginal by needing the unpledged votes, and at worst betray him and anger the folks back home.]

  2. BlueCat says:

    2015 will probably not be remembered as the Colorado GOP's favorite year.

  3. Progressicat says:

    I was able to find an interview with a member of the executive committee done shortly before the vote was taken.

  4. exlurker19 says:

    Thanks for explaining that to us, Pols.  Although I still think it qualifies as madness to their method, rather than the other way around.

  5. Diogenesdemar says:

    I think it's kind of nice to see the Party of Voter Suppression™ come out so publicly and strongly In favor of not representing their own lily-white numbskulls voters …

    That's so damn 1%er, … it's beyond Tancredotacular™, … it's nearly Trumptastic™!!

  6. JeffcoDemo says:

    I love the messages it sends:

    1.  Don't bother showing up to caucus, your vote doesn't matter to us.

    2.  Let's face it, given a vote, we are so stupid we won't even pick a viable candidate.

    • BlueCat says:

      I think it's #2 that’s the determining factor for #1.  Isn't it odd that the Colorado GOP is in such disarray following the 2014 elections in which they had so much success, almost immediately afterward ousting Chair Call who presided over that success, then suffering the Coffmangate melt down over replacement Chair House, now this vote of naked no confidence in themselves and their base.

      They successfully ousted a sitting Senator and maintained control by a landslide of what was supposed to be the state's most competitive district  in an election featuring what was supposed to be the strongest challenger yet. They're sitting pretty in statewide offices. Yet they're in the kind of circular firing squad chaos you'd expect from desperate losers. The Trump caused nationwide party identity crisis is most likely the latest reason for this strange state of affairs but it started long before. I wonder why?

      • Davie says:

        Not to mention the financial disaster that has befallen the Colorado GOP.  It's one thing to lose faith in your base voters, it is quite another when your party moneybags lose faith in you!

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          BlueCat wrote:  "it started long before. I wonder why?"  I agree that the Trump gig is shaking everybody up. Ryan Call, the ousted party chair, ran the successful campaign last fall, as you note. My thought is that Call wasn't far enough right wing for the likes of Tancredo, Dud Brown, and some of the off-the-rails rightists in the state legislature. Call got ousted as the rightists thought they had more clout now thanks to HIS victory, if that makes any sense.

          Another thought is the righties considered House to be some sort of a benign front guy; either he turned out to be inept or he revealed that he has/had a mind of his own. Then came what this web site has called "Coffman-Gate." And now the Trump scare is removing the presidential choice. Regardless, I'll still be attending my Republican precinct caucus as there are other reasons to be there. Maybe I'll cough up the dough and agree to be a delegate to the county convention; our precinct seems to have difficulty getting people.  C.H.B.

          • Davie says:

            I sincerely hope you do caucus and become a delegate.  Maybe it will give some of your like-minded Republicans the motivation to join you.

            BTW, I also wonder if part of the dump Call/get House vote was motivated by simple economics.  Call was getting what, a $100k?  While House is working gratis.

          • FrankUnderwood says:

            It's kind of like the French Revolution only on the other ideological polar extreme. The children of the revolution (Tanc, Cynthia and Ted Harvey) are eating their own young (House).

          • BlueCat says:

            I understand the wacko righties wanting Call out but not the part about how the grown ups so misjudged House that it is now said there were those out for his head from day one and not because they objected to the Call ouster since they were part of the Call ouster. 

            Looks like a total breakdown in intra-party relations between factions and sub-factions and maybe even sub-sub-factions so hostile to each other they no longer communicate except to trade accusations.

            Have fun at your caucus. Especially if you choose to say anything nice about choice. BTW, as a Dem I've been to many a caucus and been a delegate as far as county twice and as far as state once but don't recall having to pay to attend any of it.

            • FrankUnderwood says:

              Does the GOP really charge admission for their caucuses? I remember hearing that years ago at a Dem party event but was also told that the Republicans stopped doing that.  I know the Dems pass around a coffee can but that is totally voluntary and really just to cover the expenses of renting the venue for the caucus.

              As for charging admission to a GOP caucus, as a Dem who likes cheap entertainment, I would probably kick in a couple of bucks to watch the various factions in the GOP try to take each other out. Maybe they could also raffle off Donald Trump's hair as a door prize.

              • Denver Yankee says:

                I think a second reading would make it clear C.H.B. was referring to a contribution for being a convention delegate, not for attending the caucus.

                • BlueCat says:

                  That's how I read it but it doesn't sound like a voluntary contribution. I was never required to pay to attend county or state. 

                  • Denver Yankee says:

                    I think a second reading would fail to find the word "voluntary" or its equivalent in my post.  In my experience (with the Dems) people usually seek, or even campaign for, delegate positions.  I have never heard of being assessed for that privilege, but I can't see anything objectionable about it.

                    • Duke Cox says:

                      I've been attending county and state assemblies for years …never paid a dime for anything but food and the stuff they sell at the tables…..

                    • BlueCat says:

                      Dems want as many people to participate as possible. We don't view it as something for the privileged who can pay. Our problem isn't getting elected to be a delegate at district, county and state level. It's finding enough people willing to fill the available spots. I've always been "elected" simply by not saying no. National is a different story.

                      If Rs have to pay to participate I guess that's because Rs want to keep the "riff raff" out. Dems wish we could get more "riff raff" (students, low income, minorities, struggling single parent, seniors on modest fixed incomes. etc.) to participate and be empowered.

                    • BlueCat says:

                      BTW, Yank, no second reading necessary as I didn't say that you called it voluntary, although "contributions" usually are as opposed to, say, entrance fees. The way CHB put it, it doesn't sound voluntary or like a contribution which would mean payment is required in contrast to the practice among Dems. That was my point. I've never  been charged a fee to be a delegate as a Dem.

            • Davie says:

              Yup, same here.  In 2008 the most I recall ever being asked was for a suggested $10 donation.  Got to attend the convention at Invesco and flash the "Change" card for free 🙂

              Those Repubs don't let any opportunity to screw over their supporters get by them. wink

              • BlueCat says:

                Got to go to the acceptance speech at Invesco. Earned a ticket for myself and my then college age (or still doing the in and out of college thing anyway) son with volunteer hours. Not all that many shifts either. Could have used my ticket as an HD officer but my Obama volunteer tickets were better than my HD's block. Didn't get paid anything as an HD officer either, nor would I have been paid higher up than that. 

                • Davie says:

                  Oh, yeah, there were a bunch of blocked view seats in the middle of the stadium.  My volunteer ticket was above and behind the media section (SW corner?).  Got a few good pictures with my 380mm lens until the sun went down, and then they got too shakey from the long exposures.

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