by David Bradford
Delta County Republican Central Committee Chairman
The November 2, 2021 Election has come and gone and the results are in. There were some positive results here in Delta County. But there was certainly one major disappointment. The election of Jennifer McGavin to Delta County School Board Director in District 5 has got to be a disappointment to 68% of the voters who voted in the election. I thought it would be worthwhile to discuss these results and to analyze why the District 5 election turned out the way it did.
First I’ll present the results of the School Board election and the proposed ballot initiatives, and then I’ll go into a discussion on the results.
(Note, that these are the preliminary numbers, from the Delta County Elections website. According to Elections Clerk Rene Loy, there are about 40 ballots that are still being evaluated and the final count should be completed by this Friday, 11/12,2021). The results are (Winners shown in bold):
Delta County School District 50J Board of Education Director - District 1:
Kristina Hines 4,451 votes (53%)
Shannon Crespin 3,957 votes (47%)
Total 8,408 votes (100%)
Delta County School District 50J Board of Education Director - District 5:
Luke A. McCrain 2,166 votes (24.62%)
Brian Kopko 2,170 votes (24.67%)
Jennifer McGavin 2,832 votes (32.19%)
Nicole Milner 1,629 votes (18.52%)
Total 8,797 votes (100%)
Amendment 78: Custodial Funds Appropriation Initiative
Yes/For 4,745 votes (48%)
No/Against 5,101 votes (52%)
Total 9,846 votes (100%)
Proposition 119: Creation of Out-of-School Education Program and Marijuana Sales Tax Increase Initiative
Yes/For 4,203 votes (42%)
No/Against 5,719 votes (58%)
Total 9,922 votes (100%)
Proposition 120: Reduce Property Tax Rates and Retain $25 Million in TABOR Surplus Revenue Initiative
Yes/For 4,271 votes (43%)
No/Against 5,622 votes (57%)
Total 9,893 votes (100%)
Delta County Public Library District Ballot Issue 7A:
Yes/For 5,374 votes (59%)
No/Against 3,811 votes (41%)
Total 9,185 votes (100%)
So as far as the School Board election went, we had a good selection of candidates to choose from in both the races for the School Board. In fact, we had too many choices. In District 1, this was less of a concern as both Kristina Hines and Shannon Crespin are conservative. Either one would make a good School Board Director. I believe that Ms. Hines out campaigned Mr. Crespin, although it was a fairly close race. I knew the multiple candidate issue was likely to be a problem in District 5 and I spoke with several of the candidates back in August about the concern of splitting the vote. They also discussed the issue among themselves. However, all three of the conservative candidates felt they could win and none were willing to pull out of the race. This left the DCRCC with the only option of trying to get the votes out and overwhelm the progressive candidate. Obviously we were unable to do that. McGavin had 662 more votes than the top conservative candidate, Brian Kopko. However, she only polled 32% of the votes cast in District 5. It is important to note that more than twice that number voted for the other candidates. So, how was the voter turnout?
Ballots cast in 11/2/2021 Election 10,023
Active Registered Voters 22,888
Voter Turnout 43.8%
Broken down by party affiliation, the voter turnout was:
This table shows that there were more than enough Republican voters to overcome a three-candidate voter split. However, only 4,827 or 47% of our registered 10,166 Republican voters voted. This is very unfortunate. If an additional 663 Republicans had voted for each of the conservative candidates (or an additional 1,989 total Republican votes) all three conservative candidates would have beat Jennifer McGavin. This would have meant 6,816 Republican voters would have voted, for a 67% voter turnout. While this is somewhat simplistic, but it makes the point that we had the ability to overcome the three- candidate hurdle if 20% more Republicans had voted. Actually, it would not have taken that many if we could have gotten just 663 votes for Brian Kopko.
Which brings me to the issue of pre-primary neutrality. This is the section of our Bylaws that require us to maintain a position of neutrality in supporting a candidate prior to a primary – Article 1, Section 4.Pre-Primary Neutrality: No candidate for any designation or nomination for any Elective Office of this County, or any Elective Office of this State, or any Elective Office of any District comprised in whole or in part of this County, shall be endorsed, supported or opposed by the Central Committee, acting as an entity, or by its officers or committees, before the Primary Election, unless such candidate is unopposed in the Primary Election. Nothing in these bylaws shall prohibit an officer or committeeperson from voting for any candidate of their choice. The Bylaws of the Colorado Republican State Central Committee Section III C states Pre-Primary Neutrality. No candidate for any designation or nomination for partisan public office shall be endorsed, supported, or opposed by the CRC, acting as an entity, or by its state officers or committees, before the Primary Election, unless such candidate is unopposed in the Primary Election. I thought that the term “partisan public office” in the Bylaw indicated that we could endorse a single candidate since School Board elections, as well as Municipal elections, are considered “Non-partisan”. I had contacted Kristi Burton Brown, Chairwoman of the Colorado GOP, to ask for guidance on this issue. I was advised that if our Bylaws do not state explicitly that we can endorse a single candidate without having a primary, we need to treat these races the same as if they are a partisan public office race. I plan to ask our Bylaws Committee to look into this matter and see if we can adopt a change to our Bylaws that would allow the DCRCC to support a single candidate for a non-partisan race without having a primary. Perhaps, this too would have allowed us to defeat the progressive candidate in the District 5 School Board race.
I participated in a Zoom call with other County Chairs on Wednesday evening to discuss the results of the School Board elections in the various counties. We heard mostly from La Plata, Mesa and Routt counties. Mesa was the most successful, filling all three of the open seats with conservative candidates. They provided $3,000 to each of the three candidates (who all ended up spending about $25,000 each), spent money on advertising and organized call parties to encourage voters and provide information. They were able to get a 48% voter turnout and overcome media and union support for the progressive candidates (the union provided $15,000 to each candidate and sent out emails and texts). I think the lessons for Delta County GOP is we need to amend our bylaws to allow us to support a single candidate, actively support that candidate with exposure and advertising and get our members to be more active in getting the vote out.
A corollary to the low voter turnout is the tendency for increasing numbers of voters to say, “I’m not going to vote, because the system is rigged. We don’t have a secure election system.” So I have to ask, “How did that turn-out for us?” Did that help or hurt our ability to elect conservative school board candidates? I’m going to say this loudly and boldly, “NOT VOTING ONLY HURTS OUR ABILITY TO ELECT CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES!” This plays right into the hands of progressives and Democrats. The Republican Party is working on dealing with voter integrity issues. If you are concerned, you should help with those efforts. But not voting only hurts our chances of getting our candidates elected. So stop being stupid and vote and help us with the voter integrity issues. To quote Mark Levin, “There, I said it.”
The three statewide ballot initiatives did not pass, either statewide or in Delta County. In my blog on the statewide ballot initiatives I reported that the Colorado GOP supported passage of Amendment 78 and Proposition 120. In spite of that endorsement, neither passed. Also in my blog, I supported voting “No” on Proposition 119, though other Republicans supported passage of the proposition. Countywide ballot initiative – Ballot Issue 7A passed with an 18% majority. This was the strongest supported measure on the ballot. The GOP and other proponents especially promoted passage of Amendment 78. Nonetheless, it failed to pass statewide by a 13% margin, though it was certainly closer in Delta County. Is there any take homes, from this analysis?
Not that I can see. If the voters liked a proposal, they supported it; if they didn’t like a proposal, they voted against it. This is probably not very profound, but the message in these results is not readily apparent to me.
At our last DCRCC monthly meeting on November 2, 2021, I had promised to report on the results of the Redistricting and cover the candidates that have already declared for the 2022 election. I will try to report on these two matters in my next blog(s). Thanks to those of you who took the time and effort to vote. We can win, only if we participate.