Strange Republican Doings Down In Pueblo
by Sep 27, 2021 | Feature Story Bottom Left
The Colorado Republican Party met down in Pueblo for its fall meeting to consider whether to opt-out of the state run primary. The prominent Democrats had funded statewide referendums called Propositions 107 and 108 back in 2016, which made for Presidential primaries (107) and for open primaries for all others partisan elections (108) whereby unaffiliated voters would receive ballots from both parties and could choose one.
Similar measures had been passed in California and Utah, which mandated acceptance by the parties. Such mandates were found to be unconstitutional in federal courts so this time the provision was made where a political party could opt-out provided 75% of all its State Central Committee (the “SCC”) voted every two years in the fall to do so. Because of its extraordinary high percentage of all members, not just those voting, opting out is almost impossible.
Does this pass constitutional muster? Not according to virtually everyone from conservative legal scholar John Eastman to the liberal Legal Director of the Colorado ACLU Mark Silverstein. A group of grassroot Republicans who are members of the SCC (including the publisher of this paper) began touring the state to convince fellow members of the SCC to vote for opt-out of Proposition 108 at the fall meeting.
The merry band of grassroot activists did not do so because they thought they could achieve the nearly impossible task of getting 75% of all the SCC members to opt-out. In fact, 75% of all the members seldom even attend the fall meeting. The activists did so to get the leadership to act on the issue and bring suit in federal court to determine once all for all the unconstitutionality of Proposition 108.
Somewhat improbably the campaign caught fire and began to attract backers across the state. The Republican SCC is composed of 520 members which includes all state House and Senate legislators who are Republicans as well as the Republican Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary of each of the 64 counties, as well as bonus members from the more populated counties.
Adherents for the opt-out included State Representatives Dave Williams, Matt Soper, Patrick Neville, Stephanie Luck, and Ron Hanks, former U.S. Congressman Tom Tancredo, Republican National Committeeman and radio host Randy Corporon, State Party Vice Chair Priscilla Rahm, and State Party Secretary Marilyn Harris.
But then came the counterattack from the Republican Party establishment who have controlled the Republican Party for over 20 years, and who dislike the grassroot Republicans more than the farthest left Democrats. The Colorado Republican Party has been, and is, controlled by one person, the state’s richest man, billionaire Phil Anschutz. Very few grassroots Republicans were ever actually aware of this fact.
Anschutz is the owner of the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, among many other business enterprises, including the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG). He also controls the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper and the blog sites Colorado Politics and the Denver Gazette. He is also rumored to be the biggest contributor to the Denver free market think tank, the Independence Institute, which in turn controls Complete Colorado a news aggregator.
Anschutz never publicly expresses his political views and works behind the scenes through layers of intermediators. It is believed that he is not a Trump fan, and he is what was once called a “Rockefeller Republican.” His hires for editors and reporters at Colorado Politics and Denver Gazette are almost all left of center liberals and mostly laid off former Denver Post employees. His publications regularly attack grassroot politicians like former State House minority leader Patrick Neville while writing endless puff pieces on moderate Republicans like two-time failed gubernatorial candidate Bob “Both Ways” Beauprez.
The content of his publications tends to be almost no different than The Denver Post except for occasionally having moderate Republicans write opinion pieces. It is believed he has come to accept Democrat hegemony over the state governments of California and Colorado, where most of his business enterprises are located. He has figured out how to have his businesses thrive in such environments.
He clearly didn’t like the opt-out idea and all of a sudden, every one of his publications went on the attack and opposed the opt-out. Even though the Independence Institute’s Jon Caldera is not a Republican and now votes in Democrat primaries, he wrote an editorial condemning the opt-out and then emailed pleas to 520 members of the Republican SCC to vote no on the opt-out. The same for 710 KNUS host Jimmy Sengenberger who has been financially supported by Anschutz organizations. Anschutz even had the Colorado Gazette issue a scathing editorial on the eve of the Republican fall meeting condemning the opt-out vote.
In the end, the opt-out vote failed by a 60% to 40% margin of those attending the fall meeting. It was short of the required 75% of all members of the entire SCC. Ultimately, however, the grassroots won. They were able to get over 75% of the members to attend the fall meeting forcing the State Chair Kristi Burton Brown to even have a vote. Following that failed vote a motion and a resolution were passed almost unanimously demanding the party be a plaintiff to a federal lawsuit to overturn Proposition 108 and set up a separate fund to support such a lawsuit.
Anschutz won the opt-out battle but lost the war. Undoubtedly, Anschutz will try to scuttle the lawsuit too, but it is not clear he will be able to do so. Perhaps, more importantly grassroot Republicans have been able at long last to pull the curtain aside and see who their “Wizard of Oz” opponent really is.
- Editorial Board