Donald Trump has been a disaster for the Colorado Republican Party, according to Dick Wadhams, the party’s chair from 2007-2011. Wadhams isn’t some play-by-the-rules moderate. He was known as Colorado’s Karl Rove (George W. Bush’s dirty trickster). He recently told Denver podcaster Bree Davies that he has criticized Trump for his behavior but not his policies or views.
“Let me stress, I voted for Trump twice,” Wadhams said. “I like what he accomplished in terms of judicial nominations, tax cuts [and] border policies. I think what he did on COVID was amazing. I could go on, but having said that, his behavior after the 2020 presidential election in terms of immediately saying the election was stolen, and almost two years later there is no evidence of that, his behavior on Jan. 6, which was reprehensible — he squandered all the good things I think he did as president, and I think Republicans have suffered greatly because of that behavior, and it has imposed a stench on the Republican Party and Republican candidates that really revealed itself this last election.”
That’s a problem for “establishment” Republicans like Wadhams. For them, it was wonderful that Trump was the most rightwing president ever, but there’s a hangover from the drunken roller coaster ride of his presidency.
Back in 2016, the entire Colorado delegation at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland staged a last-minute walk-out to prevent Trump from getting the nomination. They thought he was insufficiently rightwing. They were all social conservatives who supported Ted Cruz and were led by Congressman Ken Buck. Two days later, Buck told the delegates to “suck it up” and support Trump.
At the party’s 2020 national convention in Charlotte, Buck gave Trump an enthusiastic endorsement. Like Wadhams, he was impressed with Trump’s record. He told The Colorado Sun that the number of Colorado Republicans who were “Never Trumpers” from 2016 was insignificant.
Most recently, he gained national attention by refusing to support anyone for Speaker of the House who claimed that Joe Biden wasn’t legitimately elected. Then he and all of the other House Republicans voted for MAGA Mike Johnson who was the congressional architect of the push to overturn the 2020 election.
Buck recently announced he wouldn’t run for re-election and stated: “Too many Republican leaders are lying to America, claiming that the 2020 election was stolen, describing Jan. 6 as an unguided tour of the Capitol and asserting that the ensuing prosecutions are a weaponization of our justice system.”
Buck’s occasional dissents aren’t welcome in the state party whose leaders are fervent election deniers. Current party chair Dave Williams is notorious. Whether on a Denver radio talk show or a QAnon-affiliated forum, he spreads unsubstantiated B.S.
On Dec. 7, 2020, when Williams was a member of the Colorado House of Representatives, he and seven other Republicans requested that a committee be formed on “election integrity” to conduct an audit of the Dominion Voting Systems used in Colorado’s 2020 elections in spite of no evidence of issues.
Speaker of the House KC Becker rejected the request, saying they were promoting “debunked conspiracy theories.” They have been debunked by Colorado election officials of both parties.
We just had a week-long trial in Denver over whether Trump is disqualified under a provision of the 14th Amendment passed after the Civil War. Section 3 of the amendment says no person who took an oath to support the Constitution then “engaged in insurrection” can hold any office in the U.S. In the 1860s, many ex-Confederate legislators, judges and executive branch officials were removed or barred from office.
Trump was represented by Scott Gessler, a former Republican Secretary of State (2011-2015). In his opening statement, he said, “There are lots of definitions of what an insurrection is. When there are numerous definitions, there might as well be none.”
As a highly partisan Secretary of State, Gessler got some national notoriety for voter suppression tactics on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show. Boulder Daily Camera editorialized against his attacks on Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall in 2012.
The Colorado GOP is a wild, crazy and dangerous bunch. Buckle up: 2024 is coming.
This opinion does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.