On Saturday, August 5, around 450 folks who make up the Colorado Republican Party’s central committee will vote on a proposal that would pave the way to closing their primary.
I think it might be a good idea. But not for the reason you might think.
As it stands not only can Colorado’s 950,000 registered Republicans vote in the primary but so can 1.7 million unaffiliated Coloradan voters if they so choose. They could also vote in the Democratic primary, just not both.
If the central committee closes their primary only about 3,000 Republicans who make it to the state assembly, via the caucus system, would be the sole decision makers on who the Republican nominees are for future state ballots. District and county assemblies would do the same for their nominees.
The shorthand on this is simple:
If the Republicans close their primary, it disenfranchises not only 1.7 million unaffiliated voters from their primary, but it also disenfranchises the 950,000 Republicans from voting in their own primary.
This effort is spearheaded by those who believe the Republican Party is too soft. They believe if only more Trumpy, more anti-abortion, hard-core Republicans were on the ballot they’d win in Colorado.
My biggest frustration with Republicans is their inability to face simple reality. We cannot rebuild a conservative movement in Colorado if we are unable to take an honest inventory of the political facts.
The Republican label is radioactive in Colorado, and it will be for some time. Anyone who has the odor of Donald Trump or pro-life-from-conception on them will not win statewide or in any major metro or suburban area.
Last year, Colorado had the most electable, sane, qualified, non-Trumpy, Republican candidates on the ballot in a year that should have been a red wave year. And still, they couldn’t win.
The Republican Party in Colorado is broken beyond recognition. Colorado needs a new system to put electable conservatives before voters. Maybe those conservatives have “R’s” behind their name. Maybe they don’t.
If the Colorado Republican Party votes to disenfranchise all but 3,000 Coloradans it only hastens the destruction of the party.
The central committee needs a 75% vote of all members, not just those present, to close the primary. In a move Stalin would be proud of, there is talk of passing a motion that absent members will be counted as votes to close the primary. Think of that move.
The same people who are screaming about stolen elections are about to steal an election at their central committee meeting to make sure millions of people can’t vote in their party’s primary. This is how whackadoodle the Colorado Republican Party has become.
Let’s not forget the simple reality that you need all these voters you’ve just kicked out of your primary to vote for your nominee in the general election. Republican genius.
It’s time to start talking about the “circle of life.” Closing the primary only brings the full collapse of the party faster. Fine. Burn it down so something else can be created.
People who want to bring political sanity to Colorado need to be talking about new ways of voting. Options might include a new party based on fiscal and business sanity, a new way to have primaries, perhaps open primaries like the city of Denver has, or new voting systems such as approval voting or ranked-choice voting.
Conservatives need to get it out of their head that a fiscally bankrupt, out-of-touch, unhinged state Republican Party which is viewed little better than the Nazi Party by most unaffiliated voters is our way to win back limited government in Colorado.
Colorado has changed around us.
Republicans, it’s not just adapt or die. It’s adapt or Colorado dies.
Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.
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