It’s not easy being red

Local Republicans on why they run in deep-blue BoCo


Keen readers may notice something missing from Boulder Weekly’s 2024 Primary Vote Guide: Republicans.

Despite two contested Republican primaries (House Districts 11 and 12), we didn’t feature them alongside Democratic primary battles. There are a couple reasons for this.

First, only three GOP candidates on the ballot responded to our emailed questionnaires and interview requests. But even if they had, the newsroom staff debated whether or not to feature them in our print edition because of the GOP’s struggles to garner votes in Boulder County. Why put in the effort?

Republican candidates often find themselves contemplating the same question.

“I didn’t take any campaign funds, because how can you ask people for money in this environment when you’re not going to win?” says Terri Goon of her current bid for Colorado’s House District 11 and last year’s campaign for Longmont mayor, which she lost. “I am a realistic person.”

She’s not alone: Six of the 10 local Republican candidates haven’t raised a single dollar in their 2024 campaign, according to filings with the Secretary of State’s office. 

Goon laments that the lack of competitiveness results in fewer and lower-quality candidates — on both sides of the aisle. With just 11% of Boulder County voters registered as Republicans (and most of the 48% of unaffiliated voters leaning blue) she wonders “who would want to run for office?”

This year, five of 13 local races have no Republican challenger, and eight local Dems aren’t facing a primary challenge. Given the recent local dominance of the Democrats, many candidates are all but guaranteed elected office once the June 25 primary concludes. 

“Is it discouraging?” Goon says of being in the political minority. “Absolutely it’s discouraging.” 

Although Boulder County is among the bluest of the blue, Colorado has in recent years turned into a reliable Democratic stronghold. The share of registered Republicans in the state has shrunk every year since 2015. Today, fewer than one-quarter of active voters are members of the Grand Old Party, according to data from April.

So why run? It’s a way of “getting the message out there,” Goon says. “This is a method to have people like you call me up and ask me my opinion.” 

Via written questionnaires, Boulder Weekly asked every Republican candidate on the ballot what it might take for them to win in Boulder County. Three, including Goon, responded. All said they believe that conservative ideals will eventually triumph in the marketplace of ideas — particularly as the cost of living keeps going up.

“People paying $10,000 per year in property taxes are going to start asking questions,” wrote William “Bill” DeOreo, running for a District 10 spot in the statehouse. 

“Given the relative abundance of Colorado and the United States in general, it’s been easy to give more attention to higher-level issues as opposed to basic needs,” wrote Tom Van Lone, a candidate for Senate District 17. “The Republican party is viewed as holding these views with lesser import, which is out of step with Colorado.”

DeOreo, who says he left the Democratic party over concerns about their alignment with big business, agrees. 

“I believe that if the Republican party can shed its image as the party of big business and come to be seen as the actual protector of the border, rights of citizens, small businesses, families, churches and jobs in America,” he wrote, “it can and will compete as a major party, rather than the small and insignificant party it is right now.”

Read full questionnaires from Goon (, Van Lone ( and DeOreo (

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article contained a typo that incorrectly stated which district Terri Goon was running in. She is vying for the District 11 seat, not District 10.


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