When conservatives meet in a liberal stronghold, strange things happen

Colorado Republicans had their statewide general assembly in Boulder this last weekend, which fascinated me. If there’s ever a situation that brings to mind Robert Heinlein’s book title, “Stranger in a Strange Land,” it would be a group of Republicans from western Colorado and the Eastern Plains gathering for a political purpose in what the New York Times referred to as “25 square miles surrounded by reality.”

So, it’s no surprise that interesting, remarkable and sometimes unexpected things happened there.

The first interesting development to my way of thinking is the results of the polling for Republican gubernatorial slots in the primary. After the voting was done, it was down to Littleton legislator Mike Kopp and Secretary of State Scott Gessler. I was mildly surprised that Eastern Plains legislator Greg Brophy didn’t do a little better than his 18 percent of the vote —  not enough support to get on the ballot.

On reflection, it does seem there was something of a surge toward Kopp in the last few days which probably pulled more support from Brophy than it did Gessler. Two other candidates seem to be headed to the ballot through petition and bypassed the assembly. Those were former Congressmen Tom Tancredo and Bob Beauprez.

Both of the petitioners have had runs at the job before with obviously unsuccessful results. That probably made the petition process a wiser choice than appearing in front of delegates who may have decided it was time to let someone else have a bite of the apple.

An interesting development to watch here will be what happens if Tancredo does not win the primary. How will he react? His last run for the governor’s office was as a third-party candidate, although his vote total did best the Republicans’ nominee. If there’s a wild card in the deck about what happens after primary results are in, it’s probably him.

It was surprising Gessler did not take top slot at the assembly, although he was nudged from that position by a very small percentage. That’s because of all the candidates for the job, he is the only one who has won a statewide race.

One would think that would be helpful experience. Plus, he has some campaign apparatus in terms of volunteers and such on the ground throughout the state. Many folks with whom I have spoken support Gessler on a number of positions but feel, rightly or wrongly, he has been fairly well beaten up by state media outlets pretty much since he assumed office.

I think the problem is that some see him as embracing his description as having a honey badger approach to politics a little too much, making him an easier target to paint as headstrong and a little reckless.

Personally, I don’t believe that’s entirely correct but it’s enough of an impression that we’ll have to see how he addresses it during this primary campaign.

Kopp is a worthy candidate and appears to be a good man to be governor. It remains to be seen how much political chemistry he can engender amongst the electorate. Hickenlooper is a master at coming off as an amiable, aw-shucks kind of candidate, and it’s going to take a challenger with some degree of personal charisma to put him in the hazard.

A larger surprise was Mesa County resident David Cox receiving 33 percent of the delegate vote for the 3rd Congressional District, placing him on the ballot in contention with incumbent Congressman Scott Tipton. Cox has strong views and is blunt in their expression, so it will be interesting to watch the effect this has on the process and how it will be addressed by the Tipton campaign.

Without taking too much away from the Cox candidacy, a fair degree of message-sending took place amongst delegates when it came to Congressman Tipton. Tipton has been an important proponent of a number of natural-resource and small-business measures, but some Republicans feel he’s supportive but unfocused on larger leadership and constitutional issues.

Additionally, his offices reportedly continue to be lackluster in personal appearances on behalf of the congressman, and lacking in strong positions on his behalf. The conservative base wants candidates with definable positions and an identity — at all levels.

Rick Wagner writes more on politics on his blog, The War on Wrong.


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