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Results of the State and Other Higher Assemblies:How Paper Ballots Worked Out

We have had a busy month.  Over the past 30 days or so, we have held our precinct caucuses, our county assembly, the SD5 Assembly, the HD54 Assembly, the CD3 Assembly, the JD7 Assembly, the HD 58 Assembly and the State Assembly.  I have already reported on the caucuses and the county assembly.  In this blog, I plan to discuss the remaining six assemblies.  You’ll note that this is a long blog, but I am providing a lot of factual information.  There was a considerable amount of emotional rhetoric at the assemblies.  I will focus on presenting facts, then offer my analysis of the assemblies at the end of the blog.

The first of our higher assemblies was the Colorado State Senate District 5 assembly, that was held at the Montrose Event Center in Montrose on Saturday, March 30th.  The assembly was chaired by Phil Vaughn of Garfield County.  Vaughn does an excellent job chairing this assembly.  There are parts of seven counties in SD5 - Delta County, except for Cedaredge & Orchard City areas (all Delta County Precincts, except Precincts 11,12,13 &14, are in SD 5), southeast Garfield County, Gunnison County, Hinsdale County, northeast Montrose County and Pitkin County.  The State Party had allocated 136 delegates for this assembly and Delta County had 29 of those delegates.  Ninety-five delegates were present, nineteen from Delta County.  Current HD 58 Representative Marc Catlin, who is term-limited in HD58, was the only Republican candidate nominated at the assembly.  Voting was by voice-vote and Catlin was elected unanimously.  According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s TRACER program (Transparency in Contribution and Expenditure Reporting) there currently are two Democrat candidates who are running for SD5 - Cole Buerger of Glenwood Springs and Barbara Bynum, the current mayor of Montrose.  There is also an Unaffiliated candidate - James M. Turner of Fountain, CO.  Which is curious, as Fountain is part of Senate District 12.  Marc Catlin will be the sole candidate on the Republican Primary Ballot (election day for the statewide primary is June 25, 2024.)

The next assembly that was held was the HD54 Assembly.  It was also held on Saturday March 30th but at the Palisade High School in Palisade, CO.  The Chairman for HD54 is Bob Erbisch of Mesa County.  House District 54 consists of Mesa County, except for the City of Grand Junction, and the west half of Delta County (Precincts 1-14).  There were 97 delegates allocated by the state party for this assembly, 28 for Delta County.  Tonya Huspen, Secretary for the HD54 Assembly and resident of Austin, reported that there were 58 delegates present at the assembly, with 17 of them from Delta County.  Three-term incumbent Representative Matt Soper was the only Republican candidate nominated at the assembly.  Soper was elected unanimously.  According to TRACER, Representative Soper is currently unopposed in the primary as well as in the November General Election.  This will be his last term as representative for HD54, as state statute limits state representatives to four two-year terms.  I did not attend the HD54 Assembly, as I am not a resident of that House District.

The next assembly for Delta County was Congressional District 3 (CD3).  This was held on Friday, April 5th and was scheduled to start at 2:00 pm in Pueblo at the Colorado State Fairgrounds, Southwest Motor Events Center.  The Chairman of CD3 is Dave Peters of La Plata County.  Congressional District 3 is very large.  There are 27 counties in the district, which covers nearly half of Colorado’s land mass.  The counties are: Alamosa, Archuleta, Conejos, Costilla, Delta, Dolores, Eagle, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Huerfano, La Plata, Las Animas, Mesa, Mineral, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Otero, Ouray, Pitkin, Pueblo, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, Saguache, San Juan, and San Miguel.  At this assembly there were three positions that were voted on 1) the Republican candidate(s) representing CD3 on the State Board of Education, 2) the Republican candidate(s) representing CD3 on the CU Board of Regents and 3) the Republican candidate(s) for Congress, representing CD3.  There were 616 delegates allocated to the CD3 Assembly, with Delta County having 36.  At the assembly, there were 574 delegates; Delta County had 30 that were present.  The assembly started late as the first assembly of the day, CD4, started over an hour late and lasted 1½ hours longer than scheduled.  Voting at the CD3 Assembly was conducted on paper ballots for all three races.  The results were as follows:

* Not sure why none of the percentages equal 100% but they don’t.  They’re all about 94-95%.  But these were the percentages given out at the assembly when the results were announced.

Candidates had to receive 30% of the delegate votes to be placed on the ballot of the Primary election on June 25, 2024.  However, candidates can also petition to get on the ballot.  If a candidate went through the assembly and also petitioned, they must get 10% of the delegates votes to be put on the ballot.  So that means the following for the winners of the CD3 Assembly voting:

Sherri Wright of Montezuma County is unopposed in the primary election.  She will be facing Democrat Ellen Angeles of Montrose in the November General Election for the seat on the State Board of Education for CD3.

Kris Sposato of Delta County and Ray Scott of Mesa County will face each other on the June 25th Primary Election.  Whomever wins the primary will face Democrat Robert Bruce Logan of Durango in the November General Election for the CU Board of Regents seat for CD3.

For the Congressional seat for CD3, Stephen Varela and Ron Hanks will also face Curtis McCrackin of Cedaredge and Jeff Hurd (who both have successfully petitioned onto the Primary Election ballot.  They may also face Russ Andrews of Carbondale, Joe Granado of Fruita and Lew Webb of Durango, if their petitions are approved by the Colorado Secretary of State.)  In the November General Election, the Republican winner of the Primary Election will face Democrat Adam Frisch.  There are also a number of smaller party candidates that could be on the General Election Ballot - Libertarian James Wiley, United Party candidate Adam Withrow and independent Frank Hernandez.

The CD3 Assembly was well run and any issues, such as the crowding at the credentialing tables, had more to do with limitations of the venue than the organization and conduct of the assembly.  We finished around 5:30 pm, Just in time to start credentialing for the JD7 Assembly.

The 4th assembly for Delta County delegates was the Judicial District 7 (JD7) Assembly for District Attorney.  I did not get the name of the Chairman.  There were 90 delegates allocated to this assembly, 79 were credentialed in.  Due to the late start time, credentialing for both JD7 and HD 58 was done at the same time.  The incumbent District Attorney is Seth Ryan, who is running for a second term.  There were no other candidates nominated.  Seth Ryan was nominated unanimously in a voice-vote.  Thankfully, this was a short assembly and made up some of the time lost to earlier assemblies.

Soon after the JD7 Assembly concluded, the HD58 Assembly began.  The assembly was brought to order by HD58 Chairman Scott Riba (also the Montrose County Chairman) at 7:15 pm (the scheduled starting time was 6:00 pm).  There were 103 delegates allocated for this assembly.  One hundred delegates showed up and 3 alternates were moved up.  Delta County was allocated 12 delegates and 12 alternates.  All 12 delegates were present and one of our alternates was moved up.  This was an excellent showing for Delta County.  Larry Don Suckla of Montezuma County and Mark Roeber of Delta County were nominated.  Voting was by paper ballot.  The results of the voting were as follows:

Since a candidate had to receive 30% of the delegate votes to be placed on the primary election ballot, both candidates will be placed on the ballot.  Suckla will be listed first, since he got the most votes, followed by Roeber.  Both candidates have similar backgrounds – work in agriculture and former county commissioners but they have very different personalities and styles.  Suckla is a smaller man who is strongly outspoken, very aggressive in his opposition to Democrats and self-proclaimed hyper-active.  Roeber is a big man who is more reserved, softer-spoken and advocates a reasoned approach.  Whomever wins the primary election will face the Democrat candidate - Gunnison County rancher and former state legislator Kathleen Curry.  This 5th assembly for the Delta County delegates concluded about 8:30 pm.  Friday was a long day.

The sixth and final higher assembly was the Colorado Republican State Assembly held on Saturday, April 6th at the Southwest Motor Events Center on the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo.  Credentialing opened at 7:00 am with the meeting scheduled to begin at 9:00 am.  The assembly had a very small agenda compared to past state assemblies with voting for the national delegates, resolutions for the state party platform and the election of the national committeeman and national committeewoman and committee reports being on the agenda.  In spite of the limited agenda, it was a long and wild ride.

I’ll go over the highlights or lowlights, depending on your perspective, in the next paragraph.   I’ll cover the two main votes of the day - the election of the national committeeman and the national committeewoman in this paragraph.  The incumbent national committeeman is Randy Corporan.  He is a lawyer.  He was the sole nominee and was elected by voice vote.  The national committeewoman position was contested.  Two-term incumbent, Vera Ortegon, is a Venezuelan immigrant and was running for a third term.  She was challenged by Pueblo resident Christy “Ruckus” Fidura and Laurel Imer from Jefferson County.  This was the sole secret ballot of the assembly.  The results of the vote for the National Committeewoman are:

The voting for this race began at 2:15 pm and the results were announced shortly after 6:00 pm.  The assembly concluded at that point.  Now, I’ll go over the conduct of the assembly in the next paragraph.

Some of what I’m going to say in this section may upset some readers, but I’m going to tell you what happened without embellishing or covering up the truth.  This was the 5th state assembly I have attended, so I have some comparisons.  While all assemblies have organizational issue, this assembly seemed to have more than its fair share.  Our problems started even before the assembly even began with the submission of delegates names to the different assemblies.  All delegates names had to be submitted through CRCAS (Colorado Republican Caucus and Assembly System.) We also used this system two years ago and experienced no problems with CRCAS back then.  This time, some delegates names did not show up for some of the assemblies and some were listed as alternates.  Once your entries are submitted the system is locked and you cannot change or even see names are in the system.  Once we were alerted to the problems, Brittany Deleff, our DCRCC secretary, and I had to get the system unlocked and then go back into the system to try to correct these problems.  We were able to correct problems for the HD58 Assembly but apparently issues remained for the State Assembly.  Then, the state party was unable to get the badges sent out before the assembly, so they called me to ask if I could pick them up in Pueblo, prior to the state assembly.  I agreed.  I stopped by the State Fairgrounds on Thursday afternoon, as I was told to do, and the whole facility was completely locked up.  So, on Friday morning I arrived at the Fairgrounds at 9:00 am, which was the other time I was told the badges would be available.  This was the same time that the CD4 Assembly was occurring.  I waited 2½ hours to get the Delta County state assembly badges.  I was able to hand out the badges to most of our delegates on Friday during the various assemblies.  The one delegate who was not able to attend the Friday assemblies, we were able to get his badge to him at the door of the Events Center.  I could continue in a narrative manner but this would become overly lengthy.  So, I’ll continue in a tabular format on the issues with how the state assembly was conducted:

1) The Assembly was scheduled to start at 9:00 am, it did not start until 10:00 am.

2) Credentialing started at 7:00 am, but a final credentials report was not made until 2:00 pm – seven hours of credentialing.

3) The total credentialed delegate count that was given at the “final” credentials report at 2:20 pm was 2,009 delegates (I don’t know if this includes the 130 or so delegates that were later credentialed in – see item 5 below for details.) There were 3,508 delegates allocated for the 2024 State Assembly, so there was a 57% attendance. This number is nearly half of the 3,700 delegates that were credentialed in for the 2022 State Assembly (4,743 delegates were allocated in 2022, so there was a 78% attendance that year.)   The reduced delegate allocation for 2024 was caused by the reduced voter turnout for the Republican Gubernatorial candidate in 2022 (The delegate numbers are determined by the Colorado Secretary of State under CRS 1-3-103 (2)(a).  So, what caused the reduced attendance at the assembly?  That is a good question – is it because of a reduced interest in politics, the limited agenda, disenchantment with the Colorado Republican Party or disagreement with the Colorado State Republican Chairman?  It may be all four reasons, but I know that there are many Republicans who fall into the last category

4) There was only one vote that required a secret or paper ballot – the election of the National Committeewoman.  This one vote took over four hours to conduct.  In comparison, there were six races voted on at the 2022 State Assembly (Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Attorney General, At-Large State Board of Education, and US Senate.)  How long would these six races have taken if we had used the voting process from 2024 – four hours each or 24 hours?

5) At the start of the voting, in a bit of theater, the Chairman had the Teller Committee parade from the back of the auditorium all the way to the front and back again displaying the clear ballot boxes to show that there was no “stuffing of the ballot boxes” before voting started.  The Teller Committee then moved behind a row of black curtains, where voters had to go to vote.  This voting process involved lining up, getting your badge scanned and verified that you were registered and eligible to vote (some people were turned away at this point for not being properly registered, this included two of Delta County’s delegates.  However, the Chairman made an executive decision to register 130 or so of these delegates and allowed them to vote.  This caused Laurel Imer to cry foul at the end of the meeting, when the results were announced).   Voters then moved down the length of the arena to go behind the black curtains, where tellers directed you to an alphabetically organized array of tables with tellers and ballot boxes.  At this point you had to show your ID, again, then you were given a paper ballot and a hole was punched in your badge, to show you had been given a ballot.  You could vote then and there in front of the teller or take the ballot back to your seat and vote in private, but you had to go through the whole line again to deposit your ballot.  As you deposited your ballot in the clear ballot boxes, where your vote was clearly visible, unless you folded the full 8½ x 11-inch ballot in half or made sure your ballot fell face-down, the teller punched a second hole in your badge to show that you had deposited your ballot in a ballot box. It was an unbelievably complex and time-consuming process.

6) Chairman Williams brought in John Knox, an individual from Maricopa County, Arizona, who was described as an “expert” in hand counting ballots.  This individual supposedly created the ballot counting strategy that was used for the one vote that used paper ballots.  The voting took over two hours to conduct and the counting took another two hours.  The voting strategy had counties voting in groups.  The first group consisted of El Paso County.  The 2nd group was Douglas and Larimer Counties.  The 3rd group was Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson Counties.  The 4th group was Denver, Mesa, Pueblo and Weld Counties.  The 5th group included Delta County with 12 other counties.  The 6th and final group included the remaining 41 counties.  It seems like the Urban-Rural Divide was in full display.  Those counties that are on the Front Range, which were closest to the assembly, were allowed to vote first; the counties that were the farthest away voted last.  In my opinion, this should have been done the other way. I have a question - Did the State Party pay John Knox for his “expertise”?

7) Numerous resolutions (10) were proposed but no discussion or debate was allowed.  Voting was by standing vote and required a 2/3 majority.  These resolutions were ramrodded through, with Chairman Williams making continuous editorial remarks and scorning anyone who would dare oppose these resolutions.  Once again, the Chairman’s determination of a 2/3 majority was suspect for some of the resolutions (Notably Resolution #10).

8) One of the most incredible issues was Chairman Williams’ inclusion of a resolution that “orders the Colorado Republican State Central Committee to affirmatively opt out of all open primaries in perpetuity starting with the 2026 election cycle, in accordance with CRS 1-4-702 while further ordering that all negative votes intended to prevent the passage of the opt-out shall not be counted in the denominator of any vote as well as not counting those members voting in the negative as part of the “total membership” of the Colorado Republican State Central Committee for purposes of the opt-out vote.”  He allowed 10 minutes of debate but cut-off the debate just as I came to the microphone.  An interesting occurrence, as the same thing happened at the September 30, 2023 SCC meeting in Castle Rock on this same opt-out issue.  You all know I support closing our primary to non-Republican voters.  I have advocated for and contributed to the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 2016 Propositions 107 and 108 (now CRS 1-4-702.)  However, the opt-out issue is a totally different beast.  CRS 1-4-702 requires 75% of the membership of the State Central Committee (SCC) to vote affirmatively to opt-out of the primary.  There was no advance warning or alert that this was going to be on the agenda.  Again, this was voted on by standing vote and Williams declared it passed.  However, I do not believe this resolution is binding on the SCC.  This was another bit of theater that the Chairman orchestrated to try to force members of the SCC to vote the way he wants them to vote.  One of the most significant issues with with the opt-out, as it has always been, is how the Colorado Republican Party will conduct its primary if there is an opt-out.  There was no discussion or debate on this so the delegates at the State Assembly may not have been aware of this part of the issue.  I wrote about this opt-out in a blog last year and it is still posted on our website The Opt-out Vote at the September 30, 2023 SCC Meeting.

9) No committee reports were made, in spite of them being on the agenda.  Most notably no financial report was made, in spite of the FEC complaint, involving the allegation of Chairman Williams use of state party funds for his personal campaign for the nomination for CD5.  This is a significant issue.  The last report given to us was a general “Everything is fine now, under Chairman Williams.”  When another county chairman asked for the specific figures, we were told they needed to come from the State Party Treasurer.  Later, links were sent that allowed access to the State and Federal Financial reporting systems.  Those links showed the State Party financial position as of December 31, 2023.  The state reporting system is called TRACER, which showed $17,599.22.  In contrast, our Delta County TRACER account showed $16,270.23.  The Federal Elections Commission Report showed $663,988.03 cash on hand at the end of 2023.  Interesting that most of the funds are in the federal system and not the state system.  This seems to indicate that the state party plans to use the donations for the federal elections – president and congressional districts (Including CD5, which Chairman Williams is a candidate for.)

10) Chairman William’s forced removal of Colorado Sun reporter Sandra Fish, from the assembly by Pueblo County Deputy Sheriff for “very unfair reporting.”  This action has generated considerable negative media coverage.  The issue wasn’t helped by Chairman Williams’ criticisms of all media from the stage.

If this seems like a lot, you are right – It was an incredibly long assembly for such a limited agenda.  There are lots of concerns with how the state party is being run.  I know some of our members like what Chairman Williams is doing.  However, our Executive Committee is very concerned with the Chairman’s heavy-handed, aggressive and very divisive behavior.  Attacking fellow Republicans reduces our Republican voters and it is not helping to sell the Republican brand to Unaffiliated and other voters.  We can’t be saying we don’t need those people.  We do.  There are not enough Republicans in Colorado and even here in Delta County to win elections without non-Republicans voting for Republican candidates.  Just look at the voter registration numbers.  Once, again, it comes down to getting the vote out.   We need to promote our good candidates and encourage people to vote for them.

I want to thank all the Delta County delegates that took the time and made the effort to attend the higher assemblies – thank you! This is a significate effort in time, money and patience.  We need to all thank these folks who participated in our republican form of government.  The SD5, HD54, CD3 and HD58 Assemblies were well run.  And as crazy as the 2024 Colorado Republican State Assembly was, it still beats the alternatives.

Our next DCRCC monthly meeting is going to be on May 7, 2024 at the Surface Creek Community Church in Austin.  The meeting starts at 6:00 pm and we try to finish by 7:30 pm.  Hope to see you there.

David Bradford

Chairman, Delta County Republican Central Committee   

PS - Remember you can donate to the Delta County Republican Central Committee, by going to our website  Since we won’t have a headquarters this year, donations are critical in helping build up our bank account so we have funds for supporting our candidates in the 2024 election.  An individual donation of $20 is a great small donation.  You can also donate in person at our monthly meeting.  Thank you! db

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1 Comment

Very honestly written, Dave…and exactly as I saw it happen. I just wish you’d gotten up to the line sooner, to talk about the opt out. I was the first one up there, but I really couldn’t speak as knowledgeably as you could so I was a placeholder just waiting for you. I kept letting folks go in front of me. Dang. The delicates needed to hear your perspective.

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