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RINO, RINO, RINO:The Attack on the Colorado Republican Party from Within

Politics is a dirty business, a street fight or even a blood sport if you will. Merriam-Webster states, “Politics is a multifaceted word. It has a set of fairly specific meanings that are descriptive and nonjudgmental (such as “the art or science of government” and "political principles"), but it can and often does carry a negative meaning closely related to these (“political activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices”).  It has probably always been that way.   Certainly, as anyone with any understanding of American history knows, the use of “artful and dishonest practices” has always been employed.  Even General George Washington was faced with political machinations by members of the Continental Army and the Continental Congress, i.e. the Conway Cabal, where Samuel Adams, Thomas Mifflin, Dr. Benjamin Rush, and Brigadier General Thomas Conway tried to replace Washington with General Horatio Gates (www.worldhistory.org/Conway_Cabal/).  Essentially politics is part of people living in society.  But does it have to be such a mean-spirited and dirty endeavor?  An even larger question is, “Do we have to attack ourselves politically?”


The phrase “Republican in name only” has been used for a very long time.  Inter-party squabbles often include one Republican calling out another Republican for not being conservative enough and therefor “a Republican in name only.”  My computer search showed the phrase being used in the 1880’s and again quite a bit in the early 1900’s, during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration.  It started again in the 1930’s and 1940’s during Franklin Roosevelt’s   long administration, when Republicans who voted with FDR’s Democrats were called “me too Republicans.”  Meaning they voted “me too” when FDR’s bills were voted on.  But it was in the early 1990’s when the phrase was introduced as an acronym and began being used as the pejorative that is so common today.  Political reporter John DiStaso of the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper is generally credited with the first use of the RINO acronym in 1992.  Interestingly, he also used an acronym for Democrats – DINO, meaning “Democrat in name only.”  But for some reason that term has not become popular.  RINO on the other hand has become increasingly popular, especially among Republican Party members.  In fact, it has become a plague of sorts.  I am constantly hearing a Republican accusing other Republicans of being a RINO, and therefor not worthy of any consideration.  In the current election cycle, we have heard Ron DeSantis labeled a RINO, Nikki Haley labeled a RINO, Jeff Hurd labeled a RINO, Stephen Varela labeled a RINO, Jeff Crank labeled a RINO, etc, etc, etc.  Here in Delta County, I hear similar accusations.


This constant use of the acronym RINO has become divisive and questions the authenticity and loyalty of Republicans who may not align with a specific faction or adhere strictly to certain principles. It is used as a weapon to demean without having to give specific points of disagreement and why their political position is better.  It is merely a weapon used to attack a fellow Republican.  As I mentioned earlier, political differences have long been part of the landscape of American politics.  Some of our very successful past Republican politicians made statements on the issue of political differences.  Here are several, that I believe are particularly pertinent –


A house divided against itself cannot stand

President Abraham Lincoln.


The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.  

President Theodore Roosevelt.


Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican 

President Ronald Reagan.


The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally - not a 20 percent traitor 

President Ronald Reagan.


I’ve quoted Reagan two times because I believe his comments are particularly relevant.   And because so many of those who call themselves “grassroot Republicans” and seem especially fond of labeling fellow Republicans as RINOs also admire Ronald Reagan very much.  I hope to show that that behavior is actually antithetical to what Ronald Reagan was and what he stood for.  In fact, all three of these Republican presidents were successful because they found a way to work with and not against those, they had disagreements with.


Our party is experiencing a schism, here in Colorado, right now that is extremely negative.  A group of Republicans are claiming that they are the true Republicans and they have labeled themselves as “grassroot Republicans.”  The current state party Chairman is part of this group.  Any Republican that does not conform to everything this group claims is true Republicanism is labeled a RINO.  Then there is a group that has created a website and a newsletter called RINO Watch Colorado.  This group has put out at least 39 newsletters nearly exclusively attacking various Colorado Republicans.  This is the mission statement they have put on their website:


Mission Statement

RINO Watch Colorado is the voice of grassroots Republicans, and the one-stop resource for news, editorials, websites and podcasts that cut through the Establishment and liberal spin.


We expose RINOs and support grassroots Patriots. We are a collective of grassroots activists.


A RINO is a Republican In Name Only.  Someone who claims to be Republican but whose actions show they have abandoned GOP principles.  RINOs often work in tandem with Democrats to destroy grassroots Republicans.


In the 39 archived newsletters, I found 25 different attacks on various Republicans.  Including our state senator Perry Will and the Mesa County Republican Central Committee secretary Terry Porter.  Now since I first started working on this blog last week, their names were on the RINO Wall of Shame that the “group of grassroot Republicans” maintains.  But when I went back the evening of May 4th, their names had been removed!  No matter, as I still have the emails that RINO Watch sent out and that lists them.  Which brings me to my next point about this group.  They will not tell you who they are.  These individuals hide behind a wall of anonymity and spew out vitriol.  The following is an example.  This is from the March 15, 2024 email:


KELLY MAHER – ANOTHER WHINY RINO BEGGING TO BE ON THE WALL OF SHAME

We did not realize that Colorado has become so permissive today as to be willing to grant Conceal Carry permits to RINOs like Kelly Maher, but we are glad to hear that she “heavily armed.” As for the “baseless accusation” that she is a RINO why would anyone think otherwise. The plus-sized Republican has scratched a living for closing in on 20 years in Colorado doing whatever Phil Anschutz and the Establishment have told her to do. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, she is a reliable plodder of a work horse. Let’s see, she writes a lead opinion piece for the leftwing Denver Post that ditched RINO Jon Caldara for being too conservative. She is a political commentator for Kyle Clark’s far left Channel 9 News and has appeared on CNN and the Daily Show. Why oh why would anyone thinks she is a RINO?


Kelly Maher is a former reporter and Republican commentator, who recently filed an FEC complaint against State Chairman Dave Williams for using Colorado Republican party funds to promote his own campaign for CD5.


Most of the emails and the 40 or so posts on the website, read like the excerpt above.  How does this type of vitriol do anything to promote Republican values?   It does nothing, it is pure poison and promotes toxicity.  When I received the first email from this group, I emailed them back, asking who they were.  This is the exchange I had with these “grassroot Republicans”:


Email I sent to RINO Watch on 10/26/2023

Who are you?  What are the names of your members, at least the ones writing this newsletter.  I believe it is important to know who I am listening to.  Appreciate your response.

David Bradford

Chairman, Delta County Republican Central Committee


Response they sent me:

Hi, Dave and thanks for your email.  We are a group of grassroots Republicans and are not affiliated with any candidate or official political party.  Thanks!


My response:

I appreciate the reply, but quite frankly you haven’t told me anything.  Who are you?  Terms like “grassroot” and “RINO” are simply labels and say nothing about the person.  So who are you?  I told you who I am because I believe anonymity indicates you are fearful of letting people know who you are.  I worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 34 years and I know what kind of public input we received from anonymous people.  If you can’t say who you are, you’re not worth listening to. 

David Bradford


I have done some research to find out more about this “group.”  The first emails had a mailing address at the bottom of the email.  It is 16606 W. 9th Avenue, Golden CO 80401-3718.

So, I checked the Jefferson County Assessor site and found that this property is owned by Esther Mae Isom.  There is a Beneficiary Deed listed on the site for this property and it lists five individuals as beneficiaries, including a Laurel Imer whose address is 16606 W. 9th Avenue, Golden CO 80401-3718.  Now, for those of us who were at the State Assembly in Pueblo, that name is familiar.  Ms. Imer was a delegate at the State Assembly and ran for the National Committee Woman position.  I looked her up in the Red Book – the directory that the state party maintains of State Central Committee members.  Laurel Imer and her son Weston are both listed as Bonus Members for Jefferson County with their address being - 16606 W. 9th Avenue, Golden CO 80401.  That information certainly seems to indicate that the Imers were involved in RINO Watch.  Since then, the group has changed the mailing address that they list at the bottom of their emails to 820 S. Monaco Parkway #221, Denver CO 80224.  Researching this site, I found this is a commercial site for a King Soopers grocery store and a couple of strip malls.  None of which seem to serve as a residence or office.  Then I tried to check the domain registration for the website.  The website www.rinowatchco.com/ is registered to Squarespace Domains LLC.  All contact information for this site is redacted for “privacy.”  The Colorado Secretary of State business registration shows no business entity named Squarespace Domains LLC.  All of this information goes to show that this group is determined to remain anonymous.  And like I said in my email to RINO Watch – If you can’t say who you are, you’re not worth listening to.  The information coming from RINO Watch, reminds me of the graffiti scribbled on the walls of bathroom stalls in a Junior High School.  It is detestable, crude and written by anonymous cowards.  The Democrat Party could not devise a better strategy to attack the Colorado Republican Party.  I’m going to quote an often-used phrase from the Walt Kelly comic strip Pogo:


Please, do not go to the RINO Watch website to check it out.  They track the views and use those numbers to boast what an effective site they are.  Or if you do, let them know what you really think about the garbage they are spreading as they do ask for feedback.


I am not just bashing RINO Watch.  All of us need to stop attacking our fellow Republicans by calling them RINOs.  It is divisive.  It does not encourage dialog and debate.  It is turning off members and causing Unaffiliated voters to turn away from the Republican Party.  Oh, I know the so-called “grassroot Republicans” say we don’t need those types of Republicans or those Unaffiliated voters.  But if you don’t know the basic arithmetic of the current voter registration in Colorado and here in Delta County, then you don’t know what you are talking about.  Here are voter registration figures for Colorado and Delta County:


This was the most recent voter list that I could find on-line that broke the registrations down by party.  The registrations change every day as people register, move away, die, etc.  But these numbers are representative and show the point I’m making.  Even if all 955,143 registered Republican voters voted in the election and voted for a Republican candidate, we do not have enough votes to get those Republican candidates elected.  Even in Delta County, where we represent 43% of all the registered voters in the county, let alone statewide.  We need to convince Unaffiliated voters to vote for Republican candidates.  Or better yet, to register as Republicans and vote Republican.  So, if we continue to attack our own members and do nothing to try to convince Unaffiliated voters to vote Republican, there is absolutely no way we will be able to win elections.  To quote a line from one of the Lord of the Rings movies  – The Fellowship of the Ring , by the elf lord, Elrond, “Our numbers grow thin, Gandalf.”   Which brings me to my next point, which is voter turnout.


I have addressed this before.  This is the main area we need to be addressing.  I have given most of these statistics before, but let’s look at them again.

As you can see, the best voter turnout over the past eight years in Delta County was in 2020.  The best turnout is in the presidential election years (2016 and 2020), with turnout dropping significantly in the off-years, especially the odd-numbered years when the elections are primarily about school boards and ballot issues.  Voter turnout is the one variable we can actually influence right now.


So, let me close.  Politics is a rough and tumble affair.  People are passionate.  They will do most anything to get their candidate and policies elected and implemented.  But to get our party’s candidates elected and our policies implemented we need to unite, support those candidates and policies and show our opposition why ours are better.  Here is another Ronald Reagan story.  This is from an article by H.W. Brands in Time magazine May 16, 2015.


If Reagan told me once he told me fifteen thousand times,” James Baker, Reagan’s chief of staff and later his Treasury secretary, recalled in an interview: “‘I’d rather get 80 percent of what I want than go over the cliff with my flags flying.


Reagan knew when to bend and when to stand firm.  The so-called “grassroot Republicans” need to learn from the most successful modern Republican president and understand that

The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally - not a 20 percent traitor.  The RINO attacks need to stop.  Here are the basic elements that the Delta County Republican Central Committee have been promoting, since I was elected in 2021:


Why We Are Republicans


  1. We believe in the Republic of the United States of America as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and established in our Constitution.


  1. We believe in equal rights, justice and opportunity for all.


  1. We believe in free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative to achieve economic growth and prosperity that allows all Americans to maintain our unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.


  1. We believe in a strong, effective military to maintain our national security.


  1. We believe in the importance of law enforcement to enforce the laws established by our representatives in all levels of government.


  1. We believe that the proper role of government is to maintain the rights of all Americans, as outlined in our Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the additional 17 Amendments to that Constitution.


  1.  We believe the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations, and that the best government is one that governs least.


If we can agree on six of these, we should be friends and not treat each other as enemies.  The RINO attack mode is only playing into the hands of the Democrat Party.  It is their policies that we disagree with and need to defeat in the upcoming elections.  Don’t use the acronym RINO, it has become a bigoted term (Merriam-Webster definition of bigot - a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.)  We can’t afford to go “flying over the cliff, with all flags flying.”  Let’s stop the name calling and work together to elect our candidates and implement Republican policies.


I could have written a much “edgier” piece and that would probably resonate with some people and upset others.  However, I’ve tried to write a reasoned and reasonable piece but not pull any of the punches that need to be made.  You can let me know if you agree or disagree.  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 https://www.deltacoloradogop.com  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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Dave, Congratulations & Accolades for preparing another fine.....and VERY timely...piece! You have spoke in public, in various meeting venues on the toxic impact, neutering and ultimate death of our Republican party caused by this holier, more Conservative Republican than thou mindset. Your various sincere and to the point presentations on this, and other related topics, have motivated myself and Jean to align our views with what you 'preach.' It SEEMED LIKE that proverbial 'bitter pill' one must take, however I am reminding myself to be more cautious and aware the words I use in my political discussions. This includes occasional discussions with Jeff Skeels, Frisch and the like. Thanks! Barry L Willits

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