New Arapahoe County chair shows the way to future success

BY FREDA MIKLIN – GOVERNMENTAL REPORTER

Villager newspaper publisher Bob Sweeney told local Republicans that The Villager is still independent in every way after Colorado Community Media was sold to a non-profit conglomerate.
Photo by Freda Miklin

On May 5, Arapahoe County Republican Chair Suzanne Staiert spoke to over 100 people gathered at Maggiano’s DTC for the regular meeting of the Arapahoe County Republican Breakfast Club. Staiert explained that, having lived in Arapahoe County for 30 years, “2020 lit a fire under me, at the state level, in the state that I care so much about, and at the county level, in the county I care so much about.”

Staiert said that Governor Polis’ first executive order after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was “ to put in more stations for electric vehicles.” She continued, “That was the first of…what is now 100 executive orders…It was never about coronavirus, it was about social engineering…It’s been really frightening,” adding, “We have an attorney general who is more interested in suing Donald Trump (According to NBC News, Democratic state attorneys general sued various departments of the federal government 138 times while Trump was president) and getting on cases that have nothing to do with the state of Colorado than actually doing his job.” Staiert also criticized Secretary of State Jena Griswold for having “become the decision maker in campaign finance cases,” saying she “plays favorites.” According to Staiert, “In a case involving the Democratic Party, there was a fine set ($12,000)…it gets back down to the Secretary of State’s office…and they reduced it to $50.” Staiert compared that to a case involving the Colorado Stop the Wolf Coalition in which, according to the Colorado Sun (Sun), “Administrative Law Judge Matthew Norwood…recommended a $1,000 fine,” which, Staiert reported, “went to $22,000,” when the Secretary of State’s office made its final determination. That is consistent with the reporting in the Sun. 

In November 2020, Staiert ran for state senate district 27, losing to Democrat Chris Kolker by 10,000 votes after, she reported, $2 million was spent against her while she had a $100,000 campaign budget. 

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In response to her own rhetorical question, “Where do we go from here…after so many (election) losses across the state,” Staiert said, “We see our issues at the ballot win time after time…we see our tax issues win, we see issues to restrain government growth win, we see TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) issues win, so why aren’t our candidates winning and how do we capitalize on that? How do we get voters to stop the disconnect between the candidates and the issues?” 

A change in policy that Staiert announced is that the party is going to begin actively supporting Republicans running for city offices and school boards, even though those are non-partisan races because, she explained that the Democrats already do it and, she said, “that is where we build our bench.” 

Staiert explained that new Colorado residents are automatically registered to vote as unaffiliated when they get a driver’s license, which explains the significant increase in unaffiliated voters in recent years. However, as the number of unaffiliated voters goes up, the relative number and percentage of Republicans goes down, which negatively impacts the party’s ability to fundraise. To change that, she said, “We’ve got to talk to our unaffiliateds, especially the new ones who are coming into the state that we know are really Republicans, we need to be reaching out to those people and explaining to them the benefits of registering as a Republican…Once we start flipping some of those people, we’ll start to see fundraising pick up. People think that Arapahoe County is coming back on the map. We’ll start to see people have a little more hope that we’re going to be able to win in these races…We have to start showing that Arapahoe County is not a blue county. We see it in the numbers when we see how people are voting on the issues.” She pointed out that many who are registered as unaffiliated “care about where the county is headed,” and “care about conservative issues.” 

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Historically, Staiert said that Republicans in Arapahoe County “constantly out-fundraised Democrats until around 2015, (when the Democrats) got this new county chair who’s really…energized; she’s also a socialist and she raises a lot of money for the party,” which, Staiert said, was used to support Democrats, including those in city races. City races, she said, “aren’t non-partisan anymore. They are on the ballot, there might not be a letter next to their name, but the candidates all stand for something.” Pointing to Republican candidates in the room who are running for city council in Aurora and Centennial, she said, “We need to walk for them, we need to tell our neighbors, we need to contribute to them.” She also noted the importance of increasing diversity in party membership.

The Villager asked Staiert if the Republican Party had a strategy to win back the State House or the State Senate. She responded, “Sign up for the notices from the redistricting commission…Colorado is one of the most gerrymandered states for the Democrats…They cut Boulder County like a pie…They grabbed all the voters in Grand County and diluted all their votes with downtown Boulder people so Grand County has no voice in the legislature, because they are represented by somebody from Boulder…Rhonda Fields represents Heritage Eagle Bend (in southeast Aurora)…There’s a citizens’ redistricting commission this year and they will travel around the state and take testimony…on what they call ‘communities of interest.’ ” She said that citizens telling these commissions what they believe is their community of interest “is the best way of getting back seats (in the state legislature).” 

From left to right, Robyn Carnes, candidate for Centennial city council, current Centennial council members Don Sheehan, Rick Holt, Kathy Turley, and Mike Sutherland. Photos by Freda Miklin

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