Setting aside Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories about how opponent Ted Cruz managed to completely dominate the election of delegates to the Republican National Convention from Colorado, we’ve already focused on the role of both local and national gun-rights organizations in organizing and consolidating the pro-Cruz delegate slate. With the state assembly in the books, it’s clear now that the threat of Trump’s nomination has produced an unlikely coalition of basically every other interest group in Colorado Republican politics–a shift could change the conservative political landscape in our state in lasting ways.
And as the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports, not good ways:
Colorado’s Republican activist base had an inherent attraction to Cruz’s strain of conservative politics, and the Cruz campaign had a masterful understanding of how the delegate-selection process works in Colorado. Add a dash of anti-Trump (or #NeverTrump) sentiment into the mix and you saw a slate of Cruz-backers working toward the same goal even if they represented factions in Colorado politics that don’t often work together in elections. Dudley Brown, the head of the polarizing Rocky Mountain Gun Owners group, for instance, found his name on a flyer alongside that of Secretary of State Wayne Williams who represents a more mainstream faction of the state GOP.
The last few years have witnessed a state of more or less continuous infighting within the Colorado Republican Party, which has frequently boiled over into very public conflicts–the departure of former chairman Dick Wadhams under heavy fire from the conservative “Tea Party” grassroots, the defeat of Wadhams’ successor Ryan Call by Steve House, and the coup attempt just months later against House all being symptoms of the underlying problem. Much of this tension can be traced directly back to Dudley Brown and his stable of RMGO-owned candidates and legislators. Meanwhile, “establishment” Republicans have openly worked to distance themselves from Brown’s political machine.
To us, the veneer of separation between Brown and today’s Colorado GOP has been increasingly anachronistic, especially in the years since the 2013 pro-gun recall elections. The 2013 recalls were a watershed moment for the Colorado GOP–and an ascendant moment for Brown and RMGO that cemented their control of the party grassroots. Brown’s power was demonstrated once again with 2014 primary victories that elevated Laura Woods and Tony Sanchez over establishment-backed GOP candidates.
This weekend, Dudley Brown stood on stage with Secretary of State Wayne Williams to claim victory in Colorado for Ted Cruz in the desperate battle to stop Donald Trump. Brown himself was elected not just to the RNC as a national delegate as he has in prior years, but also to the national convention’s platform committee. Even though Brown’s favored U.S. Senate candidate longtime ally Sen. Tim Neville lost out after Darryl Glenn’s fiery convention speech, there’s no question that the present state of chaos in the Republican Party is working out very well for Dudley Brown.
And that is a story we could be talking about well after 2016.