Colorado Republicans tepid in Trump support
Donald Trump wasn’t the first choice, or even the second, for many Colorado Republicans, but he’s now the only choice.
Or not. Depending.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, the first-term GOP senator who first endorsed fellow senator Marco Rubio of Florida, moved on to another senator, Ted Cruz of Texas, after Rubio flamed out.
When Cruz collapsed and Ohio Gov. John Kasich quit, only Trump was left.
The usually loquacious Gardner has had little to say about his party’s apparent standard-bearer.
In that, he has company in the form of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who said he’s “not there right now.”
Among the Colorado Republicans running for the Senate, the choice was easy enough.
Former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham, former Aurora City Councilor Ryan Frazier, Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha, and El Paso County Commissioner Daryl Glenn all said they would back the eventual GOP nominee.
Few, however, framed their support as an outright endorsement, choosing instead to say they would support any Republican over the Democrat nominee.
Frazier said he had no support for “an avowed socialist and the other running for prison” referring to Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, respectively.
Trump, said Graham, has been coarse, driving off potential allies, such as Hispanics and women.
“I want different and I want better” from Trump, Graham said.
He wasn’t a “Never Trump or Never Cruz” type, said Glenn, but certainly not a Democrat.
“There is a reason why I’m going to vote Republican,” Glenn said.
He would be senator in the mold of Cruz, Blaha said in Grand Junction, but he could support Trump as president.
“We need disruption,” in politics, Blaha said.
Former state Rep. Jon Keyser said he would support the GOP nominee because “Hillary Clinton’s multiple derelictions of duty disqualify her from office and I will support the Republican nominee to ensure Hillary Clinton never becomes president.”
U.S. Rep Scott Tipton, who is seeking a fourth term in the House, is a Trump backer, said his campaign spokesman, because, “Our country cannot afford a third Obama term.”
Tipton challenger Alex Beinstein said he had no endorsement for president, but if Trump wins, he would “be happy to work on trade deals, keeping education local, and veterans with him. But no endorsement.”
In the Colorado Legislature, the feelings were mixed among Republican lawmakers about “The Donald.”
Most had little problem saying they would support their party’s nominee no matter who it is, but others weren’t quite sure if they’re ready to go there just yet.
While the question was an easy one for Sen. Ray Scott — “Anyone but Hillary,” the Grand Junction Republican said — support for Trump from Rep. Dan Thurlow was more tepid.
“I think politics has to be a team sport, because in our system we have two teams,” the Grand Junction Republican said. “In the end, the only way our team can win is to support the process, and by extension, the result.”
Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, said, he, too, had no problem backing Trump, saying his greatest concern was U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
Rep. Yeulin Willett, R-Grand Junction, said he began as a supporter of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and then was ready to back Ryan if the party’s national convention becomes a contested race.
“I’m frankly disappointed as an American in both parties and their candidates (and) I want to see how the cards play out and what my options are,” Willett said of Clinton and Trump. “I put a lot of credibility in track record, quality and trust, and I don’t have it with either one of them.”
Willett’s greatest concern, however, was more on what impact Trump might have on down-ticket races, saying that if Republicans choose not to vote in the presidential race, they at least keep other races in mind.
“I would just urge people, if Hillary Clinton does become president, that we be very careful to keep Congress and our state legislatures balanced out with more Republicans in office,” he said. “I would hope that Republicans who might stay home as a protest would at least come out and vote down-ticket.”
Although he’s not a Republican, Gov. John Hickenlooper, a superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention, said he understands the consternation Republicans have had over Trump. As an outspoken supporter of Clinton, the Democratic governor said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, too, has greatly shaken things up in American politics.
“I think it reflects the deep, deep frustrations of a lot of people in this country,” Hickenlooper said. “There’s just a lot of people out there who think the system is rigged. The support that Bernie Sanders has had, as well as Donald Trump, they think it benefits wealthy people and big corporations. For a great many people in the middle, they feel that there’s nothing in it for them.”
Another Colorado superdelegate, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, is sympathetic to the view that the Trump candidacy guarantees a Hillary Clinton presidency, but said Democrats and Republicans should not ignore the nerve that Bernie Sanders has exposed.
The costs of higher education, early childhood education, health care and other big-ticket items have risen sharply while the lower three-fifths of Americans in terms of income “have been savaged,” he said. What Sanders has said should be paid attention to “because it’s true.”