Calls for GOP chief to resign
Delta County Republican Party Chairwoman Linda Sorenson is under fire again.
Since defending her use of an overtly racist meme of President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee last week, several people and groups — including the regional chapter of the NAACP — have called on Sorenson to resign her party job.
But those calls for her resignation aren’t only because of that meme, which was of a black-and-white picture of former President Ronald Reagan bottle-feeding a chimp named Bonzo in the 1951 movie, “Bedtime for Bonzo.” Above and below the picture, someone added: “I’ll be dammed ... Reagan used to babysit Obama!”
The other reason is because Sorenson apparently has been urging people to vote for U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn, which is in violation of state and county party rules.
Under those rules, officials of state and local parties, particularly the leaders of those parties, are not allowed to endorse one primary candidate over another. Glenn is one of six Republicans vying for the right to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in the June 28 Republican primaries.
Matt Soper, an active Republican in Delta County, said he was “concerned” when he first saw a Facebook posting by Sorenson urging people to vote for Glenn.
“Because the party has rules prohibiting officers from endorsing candidates in contested primary races,” said Soper, a former Orchard City council member who has managed numerous GOP political campaigns in the county, “I did talk to other members of the party to confirm whether the posting would constitute a breach of the party rules.”
Sorenson could not be reached for comment, in part, because she has removed her Facebook page and apparently disconnected her home telephone. Attempts to contact her through other members of the county party also failed.
Colorado GOP Party Chairman Steve House said he is to meet with Sorenson and other Delta County party officials on Monday to discuss the situation.
While House denounced the use of a racist meme, he hasn’t called for her resignation.
“I’ll meet with leadership there and elected officials and we’ll look at the situation for what it is,” House said. “I do not believe she should have had that stuff on her Facebook page.”
On Friday, the head of the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sent a letter to Sorenson and the Delta County Republican Central Committee demanding her resignation.
“This is more than just about racism,” wrote Rosemary Lytle, president of the regional chapter of the NAACP. “This is about the political right’s perpetual lack of civility. Rather than reaching out to diverse communities, Delta County Republicans are telling people of color that their party doesn’t value them.”
House said the party is not a racist group, but added that there is a difference between racism and racial insensitivity.
“The Republican Party itself, we’re anti-racism every day of the week,” House said. “But if there are racial insensitivities out there, we need to bring them up, we need to talk about them, we need to make sure everyone is educated about it, and then we need to go forward. Burying our heads in the sand or not talking about it is not going to help anybody. There’s no room for racism in our party.”
Two of the GOP candidates for Senate, Glenn and Ryan Frazier, are African-American.
Soper said that several party leaders have already called on Sorenson to resign because of the meme and the endorsement.
“The chair is a hard worker and passionate cheerleader for the party, but issues such as the meme have illustrated she may not have understood all of the responsibilities associated with her position,” Soper said.
A story on that meme that first appeared by internet blogger Jason Salzman and later published in The Daily Sentinel went viral, being reported across the nation and in several foreign countries.
Salzman reported on his blog, BigMedia.org, that Sorenson was unapologetic about the meme, recording her as saying, “I really don’t care if people are offended by it,”
County party officials, however, later told the Sentinel that her Facebook page was hacked, probably by a left-leaning political group.
As a result of the stories, Sorenson now has her own Twitter hashtag, #LindaSorenson.