BY FREDA MIKLIN
On August 4, Colorado Republican Party chair Kristi Burton Brown told 75 of the party faithful that, “We live at a very pivotal point in time right now in Colorado,” and that, “2022 presents a perfect storm of opportunities for us to take back some control in this state if we don’t give up.” Democrats presently control both chambers of the state legislature and hold every statewide elective office except for one seat on the CU Board of Regents.
She pointed to the ongoing process of redistricting of the state’s congressional and legislative districts by the two 12-member independent redistricting commissions, each comprised of four Republicans, four Democrats, and four unaffiliated voters. Brown said, “The maps right now (which are preliminary, subject to the results of the 2020 United States Census and ongoing citizen input) present an opportunity for us to win back nine to 12 seats in the state house and four seats in the state senate. We have to win three seats in the state senate to take back the chamber, we have to win nine in the house to take it back.” She continued, “This is a once-in-ten-year-opportunity to get…fair maps, fair lines, because we believe that when the districts are drawn fairly across Colorado, we can compete and we can win as Republicans because we do have better solutions for Colorado’s future.”
The Republican party chair pointed to a recent news article that said Democrats regretted supporting the constitutional amendments that created the independent redistricting commission because, without it, they would be able to form legislative and congressional districts favorable to their party. The Villager reviewed the article and found that the person who said that it was a mistake for Democrats to have supported the creation of independent redistricting commissions was a political strategist. Democrat Steve Fenberg, senate majority leader, was quoted as saying, “I think it’s better that Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated folks all were involved in shaping what Y and Z (the constitutional amendments that created the independent redistricting commissions) turned out to be.”
Brown went on to say that having no incumbent Republicans at the top of the ballot in 2022 presented an opportunity “to rebrand” the party. She talked about the new “Republican commitment to Colorado” that would be announced soon, saying it would “identify what we stand for as Republicans.” She told her audience that unaffiliated voters in Colorado (current active voters in the state are 44 percent unaffiliated, 30 percent Democrat and 26 percent Republicans) want to hear the words “future” and “solutions” from Republicans, “not more complaining and negativity.”
“What Republicans are going to campaign on across Colorado,” Brown announced, is:
- Prioritizing public safety;
- Making Colorado affordable;
- Supporting educational options.
Brown shared her belief that, “When the Democrats in the legislature are now telling us we are about to have to start paying ten cents per plastic bag at the grocery stores, they are literally increasing taxes and fees on every part of our lives, and it is making Colorado unaffordable for middle-class average families.”
On education, she said that suburban moms, minority communities, and young families, “all of which are huge demographics here in Colorado (want) excellent neighborhood public schools, charter schools….They want the ability to put their kid in private and home schools if that’s what they choose without the government breathing down their necks and telling them everything they have to do and teach.”
Brown told the party faithful that “many of our candidates around the state are going to be proposing policies that match with these goals.” She added, “We are the party that is expected to be principled and stand on those principles…to be willing to work with the other side and stop all the divisiveness and disrespect in politics.”
Finally, Brown announced that the Republican party in Colorado will be placing a new focus on local elections, pointing to former Aurora City Councilmember Bob Roth, who has announced that he is running for Arapahoe County Commissioner district four, and Schumé Navarro, state Republican Party secretary, who announced that she is running for the Cherry Creek School Board. Said Brown, “Instead of the state party having a hands-off approach this November, we are actually jumping in to some key targeted local races—school board, city council, and mayor races—where we know we have a chance to flip these boards and these councils. We can win the local races if we put effort into it.” In Colorado, members of city councils, mayors, and school board members run on a nonpartisan basis. Ballots do not identify candidates’ party affiliation.
The Villager asked Brown how the Republican party planned to make Colorado more affordable. She told us, “It’s not the state party’s job to set policy. I respect the right of our candidates to do that, so you will see our candidates…go around and propose their policies and their bills that will do these things.” She then cited “cutting a lot of the taxes and fees and reversing and repealing them…if we win a majority in the legislative chambers” as a way to make Colorado more affordable. Brown stopped short of identifying which taxes or fees that could be cut.
Joining elected officials Cherry Creek Schools Board President Karen Fisher, Arapahoe County Commissioner Jeff Baker, Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Turley and City Councilmember Mike Sutherland from Centennial and Aurora City Councilmembers Dave Gruber, Marsha Berzins and Curtis Gardner were Cathy Reynolds, former Centennial mayor and Matt Crane, former Arapahoe County Clerk, at Maggiano’s DTC for the monthly meeting of the Arapahoe County Republican Breakfast Club.