Mesa County GOP chooses new leaders

The Mesa County Republican Party on Saturday approved a new slate of leaders who already had won the stamp of approval from the Western Colorado Conservative Alliance.

The GOP central committee elected by acclamation Frances Ruth Ehlers as chairwoman; Brad Stieg, first vice chairman; Kevin McCarney, second vice chairman; Martin Chazen, treasurer; and Phyllis Hunsinger, secretary.

The conservative credentials of each had been endorsed by the Western Colorado Conservative Alliance, a tea-party-related organization. The candidates, however, pitched themselves as Republicans to the central committee meeting at the Grand Junction City Council chamber, 544 Rood Ave., and not as tea party activists.

Only Hunsinger referred to the movement, telling the Republicans the tea party “made me realize that there are many people in this valley who share conservative values similar to mine.”

Ehlers, a past president of the Mesa County Republican Women, said the new officers are committed to the party, which is a part of the conservative movement in general. None of the new officers sought out approval from the conservative alliance, Ehlers said.

“They heard we were running, and they asked if we could come talk to them,” she said.

McCarney, the new second vice chairman, warned the Republicans that “2012 is already here,” and he urged them to organize to fend off a strong Democratic challenge for first-term U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo.

The Democrats’ “ground game already is going,” McCarney said.

Stieg, a former U.S. Marine and small-business owner, called for more organizational commitment to the coming campaigns, and Chazen told the central committee he would emphasize fundraising, especially among the party’s own ranks.


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