2024 Election, Exclusives, Politics, Uncategorized

Overbeck: Voters punish Colorado GOP’s interference in primary

Dave Williams and the leadership of the Colorado Republican Party call themselves the “grassroots” – that’s how they claim their power. But in Tuesday’s election the actual grassroots, the voters, decisively took their power back by rejecting the Party’s unwelcome interference in the primary. In re-writing the long-established pre-primary neutrality rules and endorsing only their favorites, the Party overstepped and they were punished for it.

Instead of allowing the primary election itself to choose the Republican nominees, which is its sole purpose, the Party’s new bylaw let them step in to muzzle and even oppose candidates who legally petitioned onto the ballot, tipping the scales by promoting and endorsing only those who went through the caucus/assembly process. Dire consequences ensued on Tuesday as voters rejected the GOP’s preferred candidates in 14 out of the 18 races in which the Party endorsed. All but one of those races were lost by double digits, including Williams’ own race in which he was soundly pummeled by Jeff Crank. Under Williams’ rule, the Colorado GOP endorsement has become the kiss of death.

Testing for purity

The Party further winnowed the field by imposing yet another purity test in the form of a 22-question “survey” required for endorsement.

The questionnaire includes issues clearly designed to root out opponents of Dave Williams and his cadre, such as “Do you denounce Americans for Prosperity…” a policy group that supported Williams’ rival and eventual winner, Jeff Crank. And: “Should Red Flag laws be used to prevent mentally ill people from possessing firearms?” – a swipe at District Attorney candidate George Brauchler (who won with 65% of the vote) and to show fealty to the powerful Rocky Mountain Gun Owners who supported Williams.

This questionnaire was so preposterous that Republican presidential nominee Trump himself would have flunked questions like: “Do you support a federal ban on abortion?” – he doesn’t. Trump and even Ronald Reagan, who were both once Democrats, would have failed this: “Have you ever voted for a Democrat…or contributed financially or otherwise to a Democrat running for office in any election? If so, list all contributions and support.”

This is a Colorado Republican Party that is unrecognizable as the onetime bastion of fairness, equal opportunity for all, and free speech, having banned candidates who petitioned onto the ballot from speaking at the county and state assemblies, restricting them from presenting their views to fellow Republicans.

In Douglas County (among the the reddest in the state) and others, this flagrant suppression of free speech inspired some homegrown “Liberty” groups with hundreds of members to follow suit, barring non-assembly candidates from speaking at their meetings. The poison raged as social media posts popped up, accusing certain candidates of being traitors to conservatism if they refused to jump through the Party’s increasingly bizarre hoops.

The new, unprecedented bylaw allowing the state and county parties to take sides before the primary and to discriminate against some candidates while elevating others with publicity and endorsements, incited nonstop infighting and rancor. Stalwart Republicans who had been friends for years became enemies. Longtime conservative activists who had worked for the Party for decades as precinct leaders or district captains were labeled RINOS and “establishment” if they didn’t conform to the Party dictates. Williams’ only job as chair is to elect Republicans to office. Instead, he’s instead been focused on revving up rivalries and divisiveness that splinter the Party and defeat good Republicans.

Williams has also come under fire for using Party resources to fund his own campaign, reportedly $20,000 in May alone, and using multiple Party emails and mailers to boost his candidacy, and even spending Party money on a last-minute mailer to attack 8th Congressional District candidate Gabe Evans (who was endorsed by Trump).  Evans won big at Assembly, and ultimately buried his Party-endorsed primary opponent Janak Joshi with a 77% to 22% victory.

Going scorched earth

Williams’ infamous “God Hates Pride” declaration further divided the Party by insisting that everyone in the LGBTQ community is a groomer, guilty of indoctrinating and mutilating children in service to the trans agenda.  After the fierce outcry against his wholesale condemnation of the entire LGBTQ community, many of whom are Republicans or GOP candidates, Williams turned his wrath on Party members who criticized him, demonizing them as child mutilators allied with the trans movement.

From his mass email: “Sadly, we now have weak establishment Republicans who want to join radical Democrats and the press in defending this child-harming Pride Month agenda…preparing to wage civil war within the Republican Party to defend transgender procedures for minors.” This is a lie; virtually all Republicans and even many Democrats are horrified at the transgender cult and the damage it is doing to innocent children.

The blow-back from Williams’ scorched-earth tactics will likely take place August 31 at a special meeting of the State Central Committee that will vote on whether to oust him from his chairmanship. But despite the destructive rampages of the chair, he may still be supported by the majority of the 400 or so committee delegates who see their mission as aligned with his – that is, to endorse and elect only the most ideologically “pure” candidates. They resolutely deny the mathematical reality that nearly half the Colorado electorate is registered as unaffiliated for a reason. They live high up in their cloud of conservative purity, flinging poison arrows at anyone calling for Reagan’s “big tent” party, branding them cowards, traitors, and of course – RINOS.

And that’s the central conundrum of the Republican Party. Doctrinaire purity is simply not a practical option for a party with an anemic superminority in the Colorado House of Representatives, and a lost seat away from similar status in the Senate.

The Party’s attempt to commandeer the primary for their anointed ones has failed spectacularly. And given the Party’s eagerness to undermine its own most electable candidates, who in future will want to run as a Republican knowing they will be attacked not just by the Democrats –but also by their own Party?

Joy Overbeck is a Colorado journalist and Douglas County Republican Precinct Leader whose work has appeared at Complete Colorado, Townhall.com, Rocky Mountain Voice, American Thinker, The Washington Times, The Federalist and elsewhere. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter (X) @joyoverbeck1


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