Constitutional Law, Elections, Gold Dome, Politics

Tancredo: End of an (RMGO) era

An attendee at the 2016Colorado Republican State Convention signs a Convention of States Petition while wearing Rocky Mountain Gun Owners’ paraphernalia. Photo: Alan Knight
An attendee at the 2016Colorado Republican State Convention signs a Convention of States Petition while wearing Rocky Mountain Gun Owners’ paraphernalia. Photo: Alan Knight

Guest editorial.

It’s the end of an era in Colorado politics. The results of Saturday’s Republican senate race surprised most political observers and pundits. They thought Darryl Glenn, as hardworking a candidate and gifted orator as he has proven to be, was not supposed to be the only candidate to reach the 30% threshold. He was only supposed to be one of two nominees to win a place on the GOP primary ballot in June. The other, most pundits thought, was to be Tim Neville.

Neville has proven his conservative credentials in his tenure as a state legislator, consistently voting to uphold the people’s rights as guaranteed in the Constitution. His appeal to conservatives was undeniable. Pundits and observers thought he was a lock for the nomination. But he did not even reach 20% of the vote, far from the 30% required to put him on this ballot.

But this was not a referendum on Neville. This was a referendum on the erstwhile puppet-master Dudley Brown, founder and president of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) and the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), and a deep political operative in Colorado politics and nationwide.

In this election cycle, we are seeing a rejection by the people of all forms of insider politics. In Colorado, that group includes “establishment” Republicans, the old guard determined to win by changing or breaking the rules. Principles, shminciples.

But in Colorado, this insider group also includes Dudley Brown and RMGO.

RMGO's Dudley Brown at the 2016 Republican State Assembly - Photo: Todd Shepherd
RMGO’s Dudley Brown at the 2016 Republican State Assembly – Photo: Todd Shepherd

Brown has made it his mission to influence Colorado politics without actually seeking office himself. His own political training states, “Real political power is forcing politicians to act the way you want or replacing them.”

In other words, he has appointed himself the keeper of the conservative flame, and his method is to force politicians to dance to his tune. He believes he knows better than the rest of us what our positions should be.

As a Constitutional conservative, I have fought on the same side of many battles with Brown. The legislators who align themselves with RMGO vote much more often in support of the principles I care about than others who have bought into the middle-of-the-road stance.

But just because he and I are running in generally the same direction does not mean that I believe he is the end-all and be-all of the conservative movement, nor do I believe he should dictate the policy positions of the legislators he helps get elected.

Delegates at the 2016 Republican State Convention - Photo: Todd Shepherd
Delegates at the 2016 Republican State Convention – Photo: Todd Shepherd

And apparently, approximately 80% of the delegates to the Republican state convention last Saturday agreed with that. They, like voters across the country, are rejecting those organizations that aspire to “control” their politicians, are rejecting those who want to force politicians to do anything but listen to the voice of their constituents, and who threaten to remove those politicians from office if they don’t dance at the end of their string. And their way of doing that is to reject the candidates whom they think are too far in the pockets of such organizations.

Neville was unfortunately caught in the crossfire of this rejection (pun slightly intended).

One area that especially puts Brown at odds with conservative principles – and with the Constitution – is his vehement opposition to state legislatures nationwide passing a resolution applying for a Convention for Proposing Amendments under Article V of the Constitution. I am passionate about this issue – and at the Republican Convention on April 9, 70% of the delegates were similarly passionate, passing a resolution supporting the Convention of States that will now become part of the party platform. This is a conservative position, one that rejects subservience to the powers in Washington and reasserts the states as a Constitutional check on Washington’s overreach.

But Brown has chosen to fight against the Convention of States. And in doing so, he has tipped his hand as to where he really stands on our rights. In fighting against the Convention of States Project, a campaign he wages in hysterical emails full of misinformation and straw men arguments, he has raked in millions in donations, especially to NAGR: $12.5 million in 2014 (the most recent information available), and $16.5 million in 2013.

Worse, Brown has threatened to primary any legislator who supports a resolution applying for a Convention for Proposing Amendments. But it is precisely this kind of arrogance, this deal-making, this pressuring in order to advance his own agenda for his organization – in other words, this cronyism – that the voters are overwhelmingly rejecting this cycle. He asked for this with his actions, and he got it.

Those legislators and candidates in Brown’s camp would do well to note the toxicity that extended to Neville and how the voters made their distaste for Brown and RMGO plain by rejecting his candidate. If they wish to remain in office, they should consider distancing themselves from him and his insider politics.

Tom Tancredo served as U.S. Representative for Colorado’s 6th congressional district from 1999 to 2009. He ran for president in 2008, and was a candidate for governor in 2010.

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