The state of the Republican Party in Colorado is dire


The Colorado Republican Party has suffered a big decline in contributions and currently has no paid staffers. The party recently elected a chair, Dave Williams, a 2020-election-denying, former three-term state representative from Colorado Springs.

In 2022, Republicans lost every statewide office by big margins and now have the lowest share ever of the state legislature. Williams claims this is because the party isn’t right-wing enough. He promises to be a “wartime” leader. He asked Tina Peters to join the leadership. She’s the ankle-monitor wearing former Mesa County clerk indicted for election crimes. A number of prominent Republicans promptly announced they were leaving the party.

From 1968 to 2004, Colorado backed the Republican presidential nominees, except for Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory over then-president George H.W. Bush. Independent candidate Ross Perot won almost 24% of the Colorado vote.

Then, beginning in 2008 when Barack Obama ran, Democratic nominees won Colorado. In 2020, Joe Biden won the state in a 13.5-point landslide.

Colorado’s had a Democratic governor since 2006 after years of Republican dominance. Democrats hold the two U.S. senate seats. MAGA-supporting U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert won re-election in 2022, but by a tiny margin.

In May, the Republican stronghold of Colorado Springs surprised many when independent candidate Yemi Mobolade was elected mayor in a runoff. He is a Nigerian immigrant who moved to the Springs in 2010 to help start a church. He also co-founded two local coffee houses. Mobolade is the city’s first elected Black mayor and the first who isn’t a Republican in four decades.

In April, a dozen candidates ran for mayor. Mobolade garnered the most votes, with Wayne Williams coming in second. This Williams is a well-known figure in Colorado. He was elected secretary of state in 2014, after being an El Paso County commissioner and county clerk. He’s currently an at-large city councilmember for Colorado Springs.

Of the mayoral runoff election, Chase Woodruff of Colorado Newsline reported:

“Mobolade pitched himself to voters as a moderate who would make Colorado Springs an ‘inclusive, culturally rich, economically prosperous, safe and vibrant’ city. He struck broad notes of agreement with Williams and other conservatives when it came to tough approaches to issues of crime, policing and homelessness, and he rejected Williams’ claims that he supported collective bargaining rights for city employees.”

Heidi Beedle, who covers the city’s politics for the Colorado Springs Independent (a paper similar to Boulder Weekly) and the Colorado Times Recorder (an online progressive political outlet), criticizes “pundits and politicos across the country” who portray Mobolade’s win as a progressive victory. She notes that “Mobolade is not a Democrat and has a history of union-busting and wage theft as a business owner.”

She writes: “Much of the opposition against Wayne Williams came not from liberals or progressives, but the rabid faction of election-deniers and ‘RINO hunters’ who have supported Dave Williams and embattled El Paso County GOP Chair Vickie Tonkins. Wayne Williams’ ties to Runbeck Election Systems have made him, and his wife, El Paso County Commissioner Holly Williams, central figures in local election conspiracies and the target of perennial defamation lawsuit defendant Joe Oltmann, whose vocal support for fringe candidates like Tina Peters and Ron Hanks have proved disastrous for Colorado’s Republican Party.”

In recent years, the fights in the El Paso County Republican Party have been so fierce that the state GOP has intervened to mediate.

In 2022, Secretary of State Jena Griswold asked Wayne Williams if he would appear with her in a bipartisan public service TV ad. Williams was the secretary of state from 2015 until 2019, when Griswold, a Democrat, defeated him. They told the audience Colorado’s elections are secure and not subject to fraud. They warned voters to be alert to election disinformation.

This ad angered many Republicans.

Former Colorado GOP chair Dick Wadhams told Beedle that the El Paso County party “can be charitably called a dumpster fire for the last several elections.” He said Mobolade’s victory was due more to unaffiliated voters than Democrats.

He said that all over the state, “unaffiliated voters cut against us in the last three election cycles because of their antipathy to Donald Trump.”

Unlike many Republicans these days, Wayne Williams conceded the election early and left his watch party to congratulate Mobolade in person.

This opinion does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.

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