BY FREDA MIKLIN
After three rounds of voting at the meeting of their state central committee in Loveland on March 11, Colorado Republicans chose former GOP state House member Dave Williams to be their party chair for the next two years.
There were seven candidates for the job when the day started. After former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who still faces felony charges stemming from actions she took while in that job, and Kevin Lundberg, who served in the general assembly for 16 years ending in 2018, dropped out of the competition. That left Kevin McCarney, former chair of Mesa County Republicans, Casper Stockham, former congressional candidate, Aaron Wood, and Erik Aadland, who ran for CD7 in November, along with Williams. After McCarney, Stockham, and Wood withdrew their names from consideration, the race came down to Williams and Aadland on the third ballot. Williams prevailed by a margin of 55% to 45%.
Priscilla Rahn was elected to a second consecutive term as state GOP vice-chair and Anna Ferguson was chosen as party secretary.
Earlier, Williams told the GOP faithful, “We need a wartime leader who will boldly articulate our conservative, America-first agenda while going toe-to-toe with the radical Democrats every chance we get.”
Colorado Republicans have struggled in recent years and presently hold no statewide offices. The new GOP Chair said he would “close the primaries so that only Republicans choose our party’s nominees,” despite the fact that the current open primary system that allows unaffiliated voters to vote in the Republican primary was put into place by a vote of the people of Colorado in 2016, and a law enacted by a vote of the people can only be changed by a new vote of the people.
Williams reminded fellow Republicans, “We are the party that elected Donald J. Trump and we are not going to apologize for that anymore.” Trump is widely considered to be unpopular with Colorado’s unaffiliated voters, who comprise 46% of the state’s electorate.
Dick Wadhams, former GOP state chair and current political commentator responded to Williams’ win with, “It’s just going to be a wasteland for the Colorado Republican Party for the next two years.” Wadhams did not endorse any of the seven candidates who sought the position of state chair on March 11, in part because, he said, “They all believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump…and they want to get rid of mail elections. It defines the party as crazy… and that’s what a lot of unaffiliateds think about Republicans anyway.”
Last year, Williams challenged Colorado CD5 U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in the GOP primary. He sued to get the primary ballots printed with the words “Let’s Go Brandon,” a derisive slogan aimed at President Joe Biden, as his nickname, but the courts turned him down.
During 2017, his first year in the general assembly, Williams introduced the Colorado Politician Accountability Act. It would have made elected officials who created sanctuary cities liable for compensatory damages of up to $1,980,000 payable to “any person who claims that he or she is a victim of any crime committed by an illegal alien.” It failed in 2017 and again when Williams brought it back, with minor changes, in 2018.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, along with Colorado Republican National Committee representatives Vera Ortegon and Randy Corporon, spoke at the March 11 meeting of the state GOP central committee, encouraging party members to move forward together. Said Ortegon, “This is our chance to show we can unite and move forward.”