Younger GOP leaders share their thoughts on how to win elections


At the January meeting of the Arapahoe County Republican Breakfast Club at Maggiano’s DTC, local philanthropist and party leader Lynne Cottrell, standing in for scheduled hostess Dorothy Gottlieb, who was under the weather, said, “In the 2022 midterm elections, the forecasted red wave of Republicans gaining decisive control of the House of Representatives did not materialize. According to a poll, Republicans lost thirty-something voters by nine points and those under 30 by 28%.” She also noted many young Republicans don’t agree with older party members on issues like abortion and climate change. 

From left to right, Aurora City Council Members Dustin Zvonek and Danielle Jurinsky, Colorado GOP Vice-Chair Priscilla Rahn, 2022 candidate for HD38 Jaylen Mosqueira, and 2021 Aurora City Council candidate Jono Scott. Photo by Freda Miklin

Cottrell asked a series of questions to younger GOP leaders Dustin Zvonek, Aurora City Council member, Priscilla Rahn, State GOP Vice-Chair, and recent candidate for HD38 Jaylen Mosqueira to get their views.

Asked what the GOP did right in the November 2022 election, Rahn said that volunteers worked hard but, “could get better at raising money and being persuasive.” She also thought the GOP should get more involved in non-partisan elections like school board and city council races.

Mosqueira said, “We did well by preparing candidates to run for office. We can do better in targeting certain groups through social media.”

Zvonek saw it differently. He said, “I don’t know how we could have done better. Since 2002, there has been a hard cap for Republicans in Colorado of 45%. Because we are only 25% of the electorate, it is mathematically difficult to do better without attracting significant numbers of unaffiliated voters.”

Cottrell next asked the panel how Republicans could register more voters. Rahn said that conservatives are generous people who care about others and that she starts her conversations with potential voters with, “I worry about….” to communicate that Republicans are people who truly care about issues and people. To “build the bench,” Rahn would like to see the GOP identify candidates with expertise in specific areas like land use, water, education, etc. She believes, “Everyone is a potential candidate, regardless of their age, gender, or background.” 

Mosqueira recommended that the GOP “get specific about the races that we target and put money into. We should use data to pick up winnable seats.”

Zvonek sounded a similar theme, pointing out that Stephanie Hancock was a fantastic candidate who lost her race for HD41 by a large margin because there was an R (Republican) after her name. He predicted that if she runs for Aurora City Council, where candidates’ parties are not identified, she will win easily “because people will listen to her ideas instead of focusing on her party affiliation.”

Next, Cottrell asked the panelists, “How can students be taught conservative values when the education system is strictly progressive?” 

Rahn, who has been a public-school teacher for 29 years, agreed with the premise, saying, “Teachers are afraid they’ll get fired if they express conservative views…It’s a dangerous and scary time for our children.” 

Mosqueira urged parents to, “Understand the power of social media,” and to tell their children the truth because, “They are being lied to every day on social media.”

Following in suit, Zvonek said, “We need more teachers who are conservatives. Most people who go into education are progressives and they want their students to know it. Progressives’ view of diversity is that everyone looks different but thinks the same.” 

Finally, Cottrell asked the panelists what they thought Republicans could do to unite their party and win elections. Rahn suggested talking about issues in a way that shows humanity, e.g., “We are people who care about the fact that only five percent of third grade boys of color can read at grade level.” 

Mosqueira saitd, “We’ve been working off bad data for a long time. We need to get that right.”

Zvonek said, “Let’s focus where we can win because our ideas are better. After we win in non-partisan elections using those better ideas, it’s important to prove, especially to unaffiliated voters, that we can govern because our ideas are better than those of the left.”