What is it and why it is a Republican quandary?
By Delta County Chairman Dave Bradford
Since the Redistricting Process is in a holding pattern as the Redistricting Commissions evaluate public comments and the Staff redraws the Redistricting maps using the final 2020 Census figures, the next political issue we are facing is the proposal for the Colorado Republican Party to opt-out of the Colorado Open Primary. This issue is just one of the numerous proposed bylaw changes that will be considered at the September 18, 2021 Fall GOP State Central Committee (SCC) meeting in Pueblo. However, it is the most contentious and it is causing quite a furor across the state. I plan to discuss the issue at our September 7 monthly DCRCC meeting and I encourage you to keep reading, as we all need to be informed as best we can on this difficult decision.
Colorado has an “Open Primary” to select candidates for the two major political parties. This means that Unaffiliated voters are allowed to vote in the two major parties primaries. This is a fairly recent development that was placed on the November 8, 2016 ballot as a citizen initiative. It passed by a 7% majority. Proponents spent nearly $5.3 million to the opponents $71,000. The Open Primary has been in effect for the 2018 and 2020 elections. This link to a Denver Post article from September 22, 2016 gives the arguments for and against that were being made during the campaign - https://www.denverpost.com/2016/09/22/colorado-proposition-108-unaffiliated-voters-primaries/ .
Prior to 2016 Colorado had a Closed Primary, in which only registered party members could participate in a party's primary. However, unaffiliated voters could choose to affiliate with a party on Election Day in order to vote in that party's primary. In Colorado, primaries were convened to elect party candidates for county, state, and federal offices other than the presidency.
Proposition 108 also allowed political parties to change from nomination of general election candidates by primary to nomination by assembly or convention. This is the issue that is being proposed as a Bylaw change at the September 18 Colorado Republican SCC Meeting. Currently, to opt-out of the primary process, three-fourths the party’s state central committee must vote for the change. That would mean 388 of the 517 state committee members would have to vote to implement the change. (State Committee Members are the State Chair, Elected Republican officials, Chairs, Vice-chairs and Secretary for each county and “Bonus Members “, which are apportioned to each county per the number of registered Republican voters who voted in the last election). To further complicate the issue, the promoters of the Opt-out also are proposing a Bylaw change that would reduce the number of votes needed to Opt-out from the current 75% of all the voting members, or 388, to a simple majority of the members present (if there is a quorum, which is 1/3 of the voting members or 171 members). So a simple majority could be 87 votes. This is a much lower threshold, to the point of being very concerning.
So, what are the reasons to consider Opting-out of the Primary?
1) The Republican Party is a private organization and its members should be allowed to select their candidates, just as every other political organization should be able to select their own candidates.
2) Unaffiliated Voters, who may not share the values and beliefs of Republican voters, are allowed to help select Republican and Democrat candidates, under the current Colorado Open Primary.
3) Democrats can change their affiliation and vote in Republican primaries to try to get a weaker candidate.
4) Out-of-state non-Republican interests, such as Kathryn Murdoch, are spending money to influence who gets elected in the Republican primary.
5) Republicans can nominate and vote for their candidate through the caucus/assembly process.
The long and the short of it is that a Republican candidate has not won a statewide election in 7 years. Is the Open Primary the reason for that? It appears to be a major cause, if not the only reason. The attached link – “Republicans in Colorado On Verge Of Comeback Or Extinction” an article by Mark Smiley in the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle details the issue https://glendalecherrycreek.com/2021/08/republicans-in-colorado-on-verge-of-comeback-or-extinction/
But numerous Republicans are arguing strongly against Opting-out of the Primary. Their reasons are:
1) Opting-out of the Primary will eliminate the opportunity for over one million registered Republicans to vote to select a Republican Candidate in the 2022 election.
2) The caucus/assembly system will leave the decision on who the candidate will be to the party insiders – the 517 voting members of the State Central Committee.
3) The caucus/assembly system is vulnerable to backroom deals at the state assembly further disenfranchising Republican voters.
The long and short of the Don’t Opt-out argument is that the Republican Party will lose many Republican voters, as well as Unaffiliated voters, because they believe they have lost the right to help select Republican candidates. In addition, if candidates are selected by party insiders this may not reflect the wants and desires of grass-root Republican voters.
So, the members of the DCRCC* who are voting members of the Colorado Republican State Central Committee are faced with these two choices – 1) Opt-out of the Colorado Open Primary and select our candidates by the caucus/assembly process or 2) Maintain the Open Primary and allow all registered Republican voters and the Unaffiliated voters, who want to vote for a Republican candidate, select our candidates.
As a registered Republican, What do you think? Let me know. As I said before we will also be discussing this on Tuesday September 7, 2021 at the DCRCC monthly meeting. I truly believe we need to not allow Unaffiliated and Democrat voters to help select our candidates. However, I think we need to try to regain a Closed Primary. To do that would require overturning Proposition 108 through another ballot initiative or a legal challenge to the constitutionality of Proposition 108. But these are not being proposed right now, though I believe the Colorado Republican Party should seriously consider pursuing these options.
*(The DCRCC voting members of the State Central Committee are – Chairman David Bradford, Vice-Chairman Roger Bentley, Secretary Brittany Deleff, Bonus member Sue Whittlesey and Bonus member Betty Oglesby).
Additional sources on this issue are available at the following sites:
Please attend this very important meeting to discuss the Colorado Opt-Out and to participate in our straw poll regarding this change to the State GOP by-laws. Let your voice be heard! This is your Party!
Tickets are still available for the Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser for the DCGOP. But, time is running out. Please purchase your tickets today! We need to know sooner than later if you are attending so we able to finalize all the food and event arrangements accurately. We hope to see you there!
We are offering table sponsors for $700 a table and includes 8 dinner tickets. Get your friends together for a table. Please contact Betty Oglesby at 970-250-4679!!
You may also purchase tickets at the DCGOP Headquarters in Delta or through the EventBrite website. Click on the link below.
Rifle Raffle Fundraiser
We still have raffle tickets available to purchase. If you don't know - this is our scholarship fundraiser. Last year we gave away $5000 in scholarships to two well-deserving Delta County students. Check out their stories and then buy your raffle tickets asap. Help support great students in Delta County. Raffle ends on Saturday, September 18, 2021. The winning tickets will be drawn at the Lincoln Day Dinner.
DRAWING ON SEPTEMBER 18, 2021
Raffle tickets can also be purchased at DCGOP Headquarters in Delta.