Feud erupts over GOP caucus

The central committee for the House District 54 Republican Party caucus was improperly formed and should be disbanded, former members of that panel say.

State party officials say it’s much ado about nothing.

Those former members, including one who is challenging the incumbent in the district, Rep. Jared Wright, said because the three-person central committee wasn’t formed at a legal meeting last March, it cannot continue to exist and a new election needs to be held.

The former members, Rusty Price, Kevin McCarney and James Fletcher, told the current board there was not a quorum at a March 24 meeting when the outgoing district members elected them. As a result, no action that board took would be legal.

Under the district’s bylaws, at least one person from each of the two counties in the district must be in attendance to constitute a quorum.

Price said there was no one from Delta County at that meeting.

But Linda Sorenson, chairwoman of the Delta County Republican Party, was at that meeting. In fact, that’s when she was elected chair of the district. Consequently, she said the panel was formed properly and she will not call for a new election.

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call agreed, saying the board has been certified by the GOP state central committee and is legitimate.

He also agreed with Sorenson that much of this to-do could have been avoided if the district had a clearer set of bylaws, something Sorenson said would be remedied soon.

“Their bylaws are very out of step with the way the organization is with most, if not virtually all of the other districts,” Call said. “Redoing the bylaws will help a lot. Some of the errors and conflicts with state statutes is part of the reason they have this problem.”

The three men also scoffed at an argument that the panel now is proper because the state committee had “certified it” at its spring meeting in March.

That’s because that meeting was held on March 2, and the new HD54 panel wasn’t selected until three weeks later.

Minutes from that state meeting show the state committee had certified the local caucus board, but it was the former members — chairman William Byers, vice chairman Keith Lucy and Fletcher, who was secretary — not the new ones.

Call said caucuses such as these aren’t held to the same standard as county parties. He said there are so many groups in the state’s convoluted caucus system that cover everything from legislative seats to district attorney offices and county commissions.

Unlike county parties, such caucuses don’t meet as often and aren’t as organized. As a result, the party gives them much leeway in what they do, Call said.

“Literally, there’s like 200 or 300 of these administrative structures, and invariably there’s minor irregularities,” he said. “If there’s minor irregularities that go to process but don’t go to substance, we’re going to give the seal of approval so we can move forward.”

Fletcher has since resigned from the panel because he is challenging Wright for his House seat.

Fletcher, Price and McCarney said they became concerned about the issue because the district’s bylaws are written vaguely and are uncertain about upcoming issues, primarily in the number of delegates it will allow next February when they vote on who will represent the district in the Colorado House. Currently, there are 45 delegates, and the three men say it should be at least double that number.

Wright, who is in the middle of his first term, said he agreed.

“I want the system to be fair,” the Fruita Republican said. “I don’t have an issue with changing the number of delegates because, frankly, 45 delegates seems like such a small number.”

Call said it is entirely up to the district to determine how many delegates it will have at its assembly so long as it is proportional to the voters in the two counties.

The three men also said they were concerned about who was being named as delegates, citing specifically that Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey and former Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland were added to the list last spring without being elected as delegates.

The two nominated Wright as a candidate for the seat when he ran for it last year after then Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, said she wouldn’t seek a third term.

Call agreed that Rowland and Hilkey should not have been added simply because they were elected officials who happen to live in the district.


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