BREAKING: Colorado Supremes Say Big Oil Can Poison You

UPDATE #4: Gov. Jared Polis weighs in, and everyone seems to be on the same page:

While I’m disappointed by today’s ruling, it only highlights the need to work with the Legislature and the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission to more safely develop our state’s natural resources and protect our citizens from harm. I’ve made transitioning to renewable energy a top priority because it is the best way to protect Coloradans health and safety, reverse the harmful effects of climate change that threaten our economy and our way of life, and boost our state’s economy by creating green jobs that can never be outsourced.

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UPDATE #3: Conservation Colorado’s statement:

Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado, released the following statement:

“For too long, Coloradans asking for stronger health and safety protections have lost at the legislature, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and in the courts. That needs to change.

“Today’s Martinez decision is yet another reminder that we need to tilt the balance back in favor of Coloradans’ health and safety. With a new administration in place, we look forward to working with Governor Polis, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and legislative leaders to reform this broken system and put our communities first.”

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UPDATE #2: Statement on today’s ruling from the Colorado Senate Democratic Majority:

The Colorado Supreme Court today released its ruling on Martinez v. Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, reversing a Court of Appeals decision that state regulators must condition oil and gas development on ensuring protection of health, safety, and environment. In response, Senator Mike Foote released the following statement:

“While I am disappointed in the decision, it gives us at the legislature an opportunity to finally put health and safety first with oil and gas operations. It is well beyond time for us to protect Coloradans and our clean air and water. I am confident that my colleagues and I will come forward with legislation to do exactly that.”

Senator Mike Foote has been a champion of public health and safety when it comes to oil and gas operations in the legislature, sponsoring and cosponsoring legislation such as HB18-1352: Oil And Gas Facilities Distance From School Property. Unfortunately, many pieces of legislation that would have protected Coloradans died in the Republican-controlled Senate.

That won’t be a problem this year…

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UPDATE: The Colorado Sun reports:

This will hardly be the last word on oil and gas regulation in Colorado this year, though. The court’s ruling will likely motivate the Democratic-majority at the state Capitol to overhaul how oil and gas operations are permitted in Colorado…

“Communities all up and down the Front Range and on the Western Slope, they want to know that health and safety is getting a serious look,” said House Speaker KC Becker, a Boulder Democrat. “That goes for air quality, water quality, citing, smells, odors, and you know, explosions.”

“I don’t think the existing law right now — the way COGCC is implementing it — gives a strong enough consideration to those things,” Becker added. [Pols emphasis]

—–

Fracking near a high school in Greeley, Colorado.

Today the Colorado Supreme Court issued a long-awaited ruling in the landmark case of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission v. Martinez–a case brought to compel the Commission to only issue drilling permits once it has been determined that such drilling “does not cumulatively, with other actions, impair Colorado’s atmosphere, water, wildlife, and land resources, does not adversely impact human health, and does not contribute to climate change.”

Today’s decision reverses a lower court ruling that sided with the plaintiffs, and the oil and gas industry is celebrating–for now. Here’s the meat of the decision:

The court reaches this conclusion for three primary reasons. First, a court’s review of an administrative agency’s decision as to whether to engage in rulemaking is limited and highly deferential. Second, the Commission correctly determined that, under the applicable language of the Act, it could not properly adopt the rule proposed by Respondents. Specifically, as the Commission recognized, the pertinent provisions do not allow it to condition all new oil and gas development on a finding of no cumulative adverse impacts to public health and the environment. Rather, the provisions make clear that the Commission is required to foster the development of oil and gas resources, protecting and enforcing the rights of owners and producers, [Pols emphasis] and in doing so, to prevent and mitigate significant adverse environmental impacts to the extent necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare, but only after taking into consideration cost-effectiveness and technical feasibility. [Pols emphasis] Finally, in declining to engage in rulemaking, the Commission reasonably relied on the facts that it was already working with the CDPHE to address the concerns underlying Respondents’ proposed rule and that other Commission priorities took precedence at this time.

Although the industry is celebrating this ruling as of this writing, the long-term consequences of this decision could be the energizing of opponents of oil and gas drilling just as the state comes under the unhindered control of Democrats. We’ll update with further legal analysis, but as we understand it the decision relies on the mission of the COGCC not just to regulate the production of oil and gas resources in Colorado, but to “foster the development” of oil and gas–a mission that under current law obliges the commission to rank public health and safety lower than the mission to promote the oil and gas industry.

All we can say is, if that’s the law, it’s law ripe for changing. Stay tuned.

2018 Colorado House Vote Totals

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Much of the attention has been about the 41 seats out of 65 that Democrats captured in the house or the double digit margin of victory for Jared Polis in the governor’s race. A margin of 10.62% is nothing to disparage, but the Democratic victory in the Colorado House of Representatives was even larger. Adding up all the votes for house candidates shows that Democrats won the statewide vote by a margin of 12.27%.

This result shows the power of turn out. There were 27,178 fewer votes for Democratic candidates than they picked up for governor, but the Republicans suffered a down ballot drop-off of 55,036. Put another way Democratic candidates performed 2.01% worse than their candidate for governor, but Republicans performed 5.09% worse. Some of this is Republicans entirely failing to field a candidate in five very blue districts, but looking at similar districts and the lower turn out for the unopposed Democrats it seems likely to me that the Democratic margin would only have been reduced to 11.75% if the Republicans had run in every district.

Because there is no easy way to compare Colorado State Senate districts using the spreadsheet provided by the SoS office I have not tried to do so, but it is interesting that Democrats did not win the same way they did in the house. Is this the power of incumbency? The districts being slightly more conservative? I am not sure. Though it seems likely that when 2022 comes around there will be big state senate gains for Democrats due to redistricting and the large population gains along the front range.

Governor
53.42% Democratic 1,348,888
42.80% Republican 1,080,801
2.75%   Libertarian 69,519
1.02%   Unity Party 25,854
Total votes: 2,525,062

State House
54.80% Democratic 1,321,710
42.53% Republican 1,025,765
1.42% Independent 34,298
0.71% Libertarian 17,153
0.50% unaffiliated 12,149
0.04% Unity Party 874
Total votes: 2411949
Total Drop-off: -4.48% : -113,113
Dem Drop-off: -2.01% : -27,178
Rep Drop-off: -5.09% : -55,036

State Senate
50.32% Democratic 608,037
46.75% Republican 564,971
1.98% Libertarian 23,898
0.67% Independent 8,156
0.28% unaffiliated 3,328
Total votes: 1,208,390

Next Time: What the executive races say about how the Democrats did in 2018.

“Personhood” Principal Wants To Be Colorado GOP Vice Chair

Back to the future!

Taking note of a report late last week from Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette–one of the central figures in the years-long quest by the evangelical right in Colorado to pass a constitutional “Personhood” abortion ban amendment, Kristi Burton Brown, is now running for the vice-chairmanship of the Colorado Republican Party:

Burton Brown, 31, maintains that the GOP’s thumping losses in the November election will eventually amount to “a momentary blip on the screen” if the party turns itself around ahead of the 2020 election.

“The Republican Party’s not dead by a long shot in Colorado. But we really need to rebrand ourselves and reimagine how things are done,” she said. “For too long, we’ve done the same old thing the same old ways. We need to make it more fun to be a Republican, we need to engage people. We need to tell stories.” [Pols emphasis]

She drew national attention a decade ago as the face of Amendment 48, a state ballot initiative also known as the personhood amendment, which would have changed the definition of a person under the state constitution to “any human being from the moment of fertilization.”

Although by all accounts a very good advocate for her signature issue of banning abortion, the idea that Kristi Burton Brown represents a “rebranding” of the Colorado Republican Party is a (pardon us) difficult pill to swallow. After sponsoring “Personhood” abortion ban ballot measures in Colorado that were not just rejected wholesale by Colorado voters but did significant collateral damage to Republican candidates running on the same ballot, Burton Brown went on to become an attorney for the Susan B. Anthony List–an anti-abortion organization where none other than former Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave serves as Vice President of Government Affairs.

Don’t get us wrong, this is not an attack on Burton Brown’s character or qualifications, which on paper are exemplary for the job of Colorado GOP vice-chair. What she does not represent, however, is any kind of new brand for Colorado Republicans. In every way that matters, she is a creature of the bad old days leading to last November’s electoral bloodbath.

Which seems to be exactly what they want, lest we harbor any delusions.

Colorado Week in Review: 1/11/19

Your deliberately oversimplified glance at what happened in Colorado this week.

Shutdown Update: Records Will Fall

UPDATE #2: On Friday, President Trump backed away from his threat to use “emergency powers” for his big border wall. As CNN explains:

President Donald Trump said Friday he is still open to declaring a national emergency over immigration at the southern border, but made clear he would “rather not,” calling it an “easy way out.”

One of the reasons Trump is reluctant to declare a national emergency: He believes his administration will be sued and that his actions will be blocked by the 9th Circuit.

As CNBC reports, the total cost of the shutdown to the U.S. economy will soon exceed the price of Trump’s proposed wall. That’s some great negotiating, Mr. President.

—–

UPDATE: Gov. Jared Polis catches Sen. Cory Gardner at the National Western Stock Show, where some very appropriate shade is thrown:

—–

The ongoing federal government shutdown is about to become the longest in U.S. history. As the Washington Post reports:

The House broke for the weekend Friday, all but ensuring that the partial government shutdown would become the longest in U.S. history, while President Trump continued his efforts to sway public opinion on the need for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The Democratic-led House held its final votes of the week Friday, including on a measure to ensure that federal workers who are furloughed receive back pay once the government reopens. The bill, which passed the Senate on Thursday, now goes to Trump for his signature.

The House also passed another bill that would reopen more shuttered government departments — but it was already declared dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate because of a veto threat from Trump. [Pols emphasis]

About 800,000 workers missed a paycheck Friday as the impasse between Trump and Democrats stretched into its 21st day. Without a dramatic turn of events, the shutdown would become one for the record books at midnight.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will no doubt continue to try to blame Democrats for the shutdown, but Democrats are actually trying to pass legislation to reopen the government. It’s Senate Republicans who are backing Trump and refusing to budge. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasn’t even in Washington D.C. on Friday.

Meanwhile, President Trump appears to be moving closer to using “emergency powers” to force construction of the wall. From the New York Times:

President Trump traveled to the border on Thursday to warn of crime and chaos on the frontier, as White House officials considered diverting emergency aid from storm- and fire-ravaged Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California to build a border barrier, perhaps under an emergency declaration.

In a sign of growing unease about the partial government shutdown, some Senate Republicans came off the sidelines to hash out a deal that would reopen the government as Congress worked toward a broader agreement tying wall funds to protection for some undocumented immigrants and other migrants.

But before those negotiations could gain momentum, they collapsed. Vice President Mike Pence and other members of Mr. Trump’s team let it be known privately that the president would not back such a deal.

“It kind of fell apart,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who was among those Republicans seeking a deal.

You read that correctly. The Trump administration is considering diverting DISASTER RELIEF FUNDS to an “emergency” wall-building project.

What is “Plan C” — robbing old ladies?

With the government shutdown expected to continue for the foreseeable future, the nation’s airports may soon run into serious problems as TSA security agents increasingly stop showing up for work. Air traffic controllers are also now suing the federal government over being forced to work without pay.

Seven Republicans Vote No on Back Pay for Federal Employees

UPDATE: Rep. Ken Buck was apparently misidentified as one of the 7 Republicans voting against back pay for federal employees.


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As The Hill reports, Congress is trying to do the right thing for federal workers who will miss their first paycheck today as a result of the government shutdown:

The House on Friday cleared a bill that would ensure back pay for federal workers missing paychecks as a result of the partial government shutdown, as well as guarantee payment for employees affected by any future closures.

The measure passed with broad bipartisan support, 411-7. All seven votes against the bill came from Republicans.

The Senate approved the back pay measure — unanimously — on Thursday, and President Trump says he will sign the legislation. That makes the overall vote total 511-7 in favor of paying federal employees the salary they are currently not receiving through no fault of their own.

#TrumpShutdown Standoff Reaches Critical Stage


Collage by Mathew Helman

As the Colorado Independent’s Lena Novins Montague reports, federal workers protested yesterday outside Sen. Cory Gardner’s downtown Denver offices as the partial shutdown of the federal government approached its three-week mark today:

Nathan Wiser, who monitors water quality for the Environmental Protection Agency in Denver, has been unable to go to work for 20 days due to the partial government shutdown. So on Thursday afternoon, he joined roughly 150 other federal workers in a rally outside of the U.S. Custom House in Denver.

Their message to the government: “Do your job so that we can do ours.”

Organized by the American Federation of Government Employees, the rally was part of a nationwide protest over the shutdown, which entered its 20th day Thursday. The shutdown impacts or could impact some 800,000 federal workers, including 53,200 in Colorado.

“I’m here because I am a furloughed federal employee,” Wiser said. “I am not being paid. I am being shut out of the office. I am not allowed to go to work.” Wiser said his frustration with the shutdown is twofold: one, he said his work is important for public safety, and two, on a more personal level, he hates burning through his savings.

This morning, the standoff affected thousands more federal workers who did not receive their regular paychecks, throwing personal finances into chaos and potentially affecting security clearances if resulting credit problems leave federal workers financially vulnerable. For workers who have the personal savings to cope with the loss of a paycheck, it’s an inconvenience, but for thousands who live paycheck to paycheck like most Americans it’s a full-blown crisis. The Democratic contingent of Colorado’s congressional delegation put out a statement this morning decrying the situation and demanding that Senate Republicans take firmer action:

More than 15,000 Coloradans were not paid today because President Trump and Senate Republicans are using those federal employees as political pawns. This shutdown puts our country’s national security at risk and the livelihoods of hardworking men and women in jeopardy. Enough is enough. We call on Senate Republicans to immediately act and join Democrats to fully reopen the government and end this senseless shutdown. It’s past time for President Trump and Senate Republicans to come to their senses and act in the best interest of the country and hardworking folks everywhere. [Pols emphasis]

As the shutdown drags on past this critical point of thousands of federal workers not being paid, and with the effects of the shutdown starting to appear everywhere despite legislation passed after previous shutdowns to limit their impact, the failure of Senate Republicans to take up the House’s legislation to immediately reopen the government increasingly stands out as the center of the problem. If Senate Republicans wanted to, they could be much more aggressive in defying Trump–passing the House’s legislation, and if necessary overriding a veto.

But for all the face time Cory Gardner gets with Senate GOP leaders (see collage at top), Mitch McConnell isn’t willing to put his money where Gardner’s mouth is! McConnell’s blocking of a vote yesterday effectively slammed the door on Gardner’s lip service to ending the shutdown immediately. With all of that in mind, the question to ask is this: is Gardner merely ineffective at persuading his leadership to do the right thing, or complicit in a shell game Republicans are all playing?

Once you cut through the rhetoric, folks, it’s one or the other.

The Gardner Shuffle

UPDATE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocks a move by Senate Democrats to hold a vote on reopening the federal government.

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Come on everybody, gather ’round! Grab your partner and head on over to the dance floor for “The Gardner Shuffle.”

Just follow these simple instructions…

STEP 1:

Make national headlines by saying that you want to end the government shutdown to show the rubes that you are a bipartisan moderate superhero:

As The Hill reported on January 3, 2019:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who faces a potentially tough re-election in 2020, says Congress should re-open the federal government, even without a deal on funding President Trump’s border wall.

Gardner is the first Senate Republican to call for ending the partial shutdown even without a deal on President Trump’s demand for $5 billion to fund a border wall.

“I think we should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open. The Senate has done it last Congress, we should do it again today,” he said…

 

STEP 2:

Minimize the daylight between you and President Trump when your right-wing base gets angry that you suggested ending the shutdown without resolution on a border wall.

From the Colorado Springs Gazette (January 5, 2019):

Despite the firestorm that erupted when he became the first Republican senator to call for reopening the federal government, Colorado’s Cory Gardner said Friday that he hasn’t changed his position on shutdowns…

…“This is the same position I have had,” Gardner said. “I don’t think shutdowns are the right way to govern.”

Gardner said he supports Trump’s demand for $5.6 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. [Pols emphasis] But, he said, the GOP should reopen the government, then resume the fight over border security, putting Democrats on the defensive.

NOTE: You may need to pretend that you didn’t hear the question when you get asked about previous statements in opposition to building a border wall

 

STEP 3:

Tell conservative audiences that President Trump has your full support and blame the government shutdown on Democrats (nevermind that Trump has repeatedly taken ownership of the shutdown).

Here’s Gardner on the “Steffan Tubbs Show” on KNUS on Wednesday (January 9, 2019):

“The President is right to be fighting for more border security dollars. I don’t understand the opposition today, other than it’s just opposition to the President…

…I made a comment several weeks ago where I said that it seems like what we’re seeing out of the House of Representatives is a ‘revenge majority,’ A majority that is simply going to oppose everything because it comes from President Trump.”

STEP 4:

Do-si-do, or whatever.

 

Buck Sides With GOP Establishment in Race To Be Party Chair, Calling Gardner A “Bubbly Ray Of Sunshine”

(But you said, uh… — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), who entered the race yesterday to be the leader of Colorado’s Republican Party, threw his unequivocal support behind Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s re-election bid in 2020, calling the first-term senator a “bubbly ray of sunshine that puts a smile on the face of the Republican Party. “

But key Colorado Republicans have been frowning, even snarling, at Gardner lately, potentially making Gardner a flashpoint in the race to select Colorado’s next Republican leader.

Some Republicans are calling for Gardner’s ouster from the 2020 GOP ticket. Pueblo County Republican Party Treasurer George Mayfield wants someone to challenge Gardner in a primary.

And GOP activist and KNUS radio host Chuck Bonniwell called Gardner a
“total [whore] for the Chamber of Commerce,” a “Mitch McConnell stooge,” and, “just like” U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a “traitor to every [position] he held in 2010.”

But Buck doesn’t see it that way.

BUCK: “To criticize Cory is, I think, short-sighted,” Buck told KNUS radio host Randy Corporon, who was subbing for host Peter Boyles today. “We need the majority in the senate.

“I think Cory is that bubbly, ray of sunshine that puts a smile on the face of the Republican Party. And I really think we are fortunate to have him…. I am absolutely going to support Cory Gardner, President Trump, and the rest the Republican ticket. And I really think that this is going to be an outstanding year for the Republican Party.”

 

Buck’s view is shared by former Colorado Republican leader Dick Wadhams.

Buck generated headlines in 2017 for calling the Republican Party “dead,” run by “special interests” and “weak-kneed senators.”

Asked how he could hold this belief and now seek to be the leader of the GOP in Colorado, Buck responded with this:

BUCK: “When you see a problem, you go forward and you solve that problem. I love the principles of the Republican Party…We have to bet back to those. I’m not going to walk away from the Party. I’m not going to say, “I’m taking my marbles and going home because I disagree with people.”

Buck said he’d remain in Congress if he won the race to be state chair, saying he’s gotten the approval of the House Ethics Committee to hold both jobs.

Buck said he’d change the model of how the state party is run, with the elected chair acting more as a “chairman of the board” and “holding people accountable and raising money,” but not rolling up his “sleeves and getting into the details of the political machinery.”

Complete Colorado reported that others eyeing the state party chair are “Don Ytterberg, CEO of Advanced Surface Technologies and former Republican candidate for the 7th Congressional District; former State Representative and Senator Tom Weins; Sherrie Gibson, current Colorado GOP vice-chairman; and Joshua Hosler, current El Paso County GOP chairman.”

State Rep. Susan Beckman, a Littleton Republican, is also apparently running, Corporon said on air.

Sen. Owen Hill Hits a New Low

Sen. Owen Hill (R).

Yesterday, the Colorado General Assembly held a training session on workplace sexual harassment to address the issue, following an historic reckoning in the 2018 session that resulted in the first-in-a-century expulsion of a sitting lawmaker, Democratic-turned-Republican Rep. Steve Lebsock, and the eventual resignation of by some accounts the worst offender of all, Republican Sen. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs. A second Republican Senator, Jack Tate, announced that he will not run again following an investigation into his misconduct with a Senate aide.

Although politically a no-brainer, yesterday’s training was not expressly mandatory–and as 9NEWS reports, two Republican Senators chose not only to forego the training but complain about it the indignity of it all:

The training was not mandatory and two state Senators decided not to attend. 9NEWS spoke to both Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and Sen. Don Coram (R-Montrose), who gave varying reasons for not attending.

Coram said it was hinted to him the training was mandatory and said he didn’t like being bullied…

Note that the “bullying” alleged here appears to be Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, who 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger reports “strongly encouraged” Republican Senators to attend. But we’ll set aside Sen. Don Coram’s red-on-red objections to focus on the comments of another Republican, Sen. Owen Hill. Not content to simply tell reporters he didn’t have to attend, Hill launched into a hypocritical tirade over yesterday’s sexual harassment training that obliges a response:

[Sen. Owen] Hill, on the other hand, took a different tack, saying the training was “sanctimonious hypocrisy.”

“The Senate Leadership illegally fired ou[r] Senate secretary for taking a stand against sexual harassment and now they want to lecture me?” he asked. [Pols emphasis]

In order to understand just how egregiously Sen. Hill is misrepresenting the facts, let’s review. In response to the findings by multiple redundant investigations that allegations of sexual harassment at least two Republican Senators were credible, a retaliatory complaint was filed against Democratic Sen. Daniel Kagan by now-ousted GOP Sen. Beth Humenik. This complaint alleged that Sen. Kagan had used an unmarked restroom reserved for female Senators and staff. No allegation of any misconduct other than using the wrong unmarked bathroom was ever made or found by the resulting investigation.

As we wrote about when it occurred last November, the former Senate Secretary Effie Ameen who served under GOP majority leadership was fired by incoming Democrats, reportedly due to her handling of sexual harassment complaints against Baumgardner and Tate–all the while helping to throw Kagan under the bus for his comparatively minor offense. The details here are critical to understand: as Democrats pushed last spring for a vote to expel Baumgardner, the results of a second investigation validating the allegations against him were kept under wraps by GOP Senate leadership–who then rushed a vote on the motion to expel before that second investigation could be disclosed. We only know what has been reported on the aftermath of this, principally by Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland, but it’s clear that Democrats held Ameen partly responsible for this cover-up.

Either way it’s a wholesale falsehood for Hill to claim that the former Senate Secretary “took a stand against sexual harassment” with regard to Kagan, because Kagan was never accused of sexual harassment. The truth of the matter as we understand it is that Kagan had medical problems that fully account for his use of the wrong unmarked bathroom–and nothing more needs to be said.

With that established, what we have is Owen Hill disgracefully turning a blind eye to the reality of sexual harassment committed by fellow Republican lawmakers–choosing instead to falsely attack a Democratic lawmaker who did not commit sexual harassment, all the while declaring that he has no need to attend sexual harassment training.

In short, Hill just proved why yesterday’s training should have been mandatory.

Everyone Wants to be GOP Party Chair (Even Ken Buck)

Ken Buck to the rescue?

Colorado Republicans were positively demolished in the 2018 election cycle, losing their slim majority in the State Senate and giving up all four major statewide offices to Democrats (Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State). Republicans desperately need new leadership to guide their wounded flock out of the political wilderness in 2020, which means the soon-to-be-vacant role of State Party Chair is suddenly the most sought-after job in the state.

As 9News reports, there’s a new name atop the list of people vying to succeed Jeff Hays as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party:

Four sources with knowledge of the process on Wednesday told 9NEWS Congressman Ken Buck will run for chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

The replacement for outgoing party chairman Jeff Hays, who is not seeking another two-year term, will be selected by roughly 500 party insiders at a State Central Committee meeting on March 30.

Buck is presumably making his intentions known because the line for the job is already getting pretty long. Among those who have expressed interest in taking the reins of the State GOP are former Jefferson County Republican Party Chair Don Ytterberg; former State Senator Tom Wiens; current Republican Party Vice-Chairman Sherrie Gibson; El Paso County Republican Chair Joshua Hosler; and State Rep. Susan Beckman of Littleton.

The jockeying to become the next person thrown under the bus Chair of the Colorado Republican Party has always been filled with intrigue, back-stabbing, and complicated rivalries. The job itself isn’t nearly as important as it is made out to be — the 2002 passage of Amendment 27 basically neutered the influence of State Parties in Colorado — but the mythology of the position persists for the GOP.

Buck and others appear to be looking at the chairmanship as a stepping stone to a statewide run in 2022 (Bob Beauprez, you’ll recall, was GOP Chair before running for Congress and Governor). It’s easy to understand the narrative when you consider that Colorado Republicans can’t really do much worse than they did in 2018. As long as the next GOP Chair doesn’t plunder the bank accounts or get somebody killed, they’ll be able to claim ownership of whatever resurgence Republicans can muster in 2020.

“The Republican Party is dead.”

Rep. Ken Buck (7/31/17)

Nevertheless, it is unusual for a sitting Member of Congress to be attempting to take the lead of the State Republican Party. Beckman would likely resign from the legislature if she succeeds in her bid for Chair, but it’s not clear that Buck would do the same. As 9News reports:

Colorado Republican Party spokesman Daniel Cole said he was unaware of any reason why a currently elected official, on the state level or federal level, could not simultaneously lead the state party. Cole could not recall a recent time when the chair of the state GOP was also in elected office.

State Party Chairman used to be more of a volunteer role until Republicans turned it into a full-time salaried position for Dick Wadhams in 2007. It’s hard to see Republicans being interested in the idea of Buck serving as Chair while maintaining his seat in Congress, but that’s not Buck’s biggest problem.

Buck’s biggest hurdle to becoming State GOP Chair is that he already declared the patient to be deceased. Here’s what Buck wrote in a guest commentary for the Denver Post on July 31, 2017:

The Republican Party is dead.

At one time, the blood of the people coursed through its veins, enlivening the party with their values and virtues, their goals and dreams. The party became its own energizing force, compelling people to sacrifice for a higher moral purpose.

But today’s Republican Party abandoned these people. It no longer represents their values. It no longer has a vision for a better America. And no one is stepping up to provide that vision.

Yikes! Good luck walking that one back, Congressman.

The Republican Party is dead. Long live the Republican Party.