"Hopefully, the thing that brings us together is the party platform, which is about lower taxes and free markets and things like that," says Casper Stockham, who hopes to succeed U.S. Representative Ken Buck as the chair of the Colorado Republican Party; the vote is scheduled for March 27. "And the party platform is not President Trump. I supported President Trump and voted for him, but he's not here anymore, and the platform is."
On his campaign website, Stockham describes himself as, among other things, a "Gulf War veteran," a "business owner, trainer and HR consultant," an "author, speaker, radio show host, community advocate and problem solver," a "100 percent un-hyphenated American" and "the ONLY game changer in the Colorado Republican Party chair race." But there's even more to his story.
"I grew up on the East Coast in a very liberal household — so by the time I was seventeen, I hated all things Republican," Stockham says. "But then I went into the Air Force, and I was stationed with good ol' boys from Iowa and Texas and started to come to the realization that not all white people were bad and not all Black people were good. I served for fourteen and a half years as a weapons and communication specialist, and by the time I got out, I was very conservative — so conservative that I didn't like voting for anybody. A lot of folks running seemed lukewarm to me as far as their conservatism."
A 2012 luncheon headlined by the late Herman Cain changed Stockham's mind. Cain argued how important it was for attendees to support Mitt Romney, then the GOP's presidential nominee running against President Barack Obama. "And I thought, 'I'm not interested in anybody, and definitely not Romney,'" he recalls. "But I went up and took a picture with him afterward, and he shook my hand and didn't let go. He pulled me in and said, 'Young man, we all have to vote.' And I was like, 'Oh, man.'"
The ballot he subsequently cast for Romney led to greater political involvement. Even as Stockham was "working with different groups in places like Five Points, where I tried to help black-owned businesses survive and thrive," he recalls, he challenged a pair of congressional incumbents — Diana DeGette in 2016 and Ed Perlmutter in 2020 — as the Republican Party nominee in heavily Democratic districts. He fell short in both cases, but he collected more votes in those elections than his recent Republican predecessors.
Over the past few months, Stockham launched an organization called America First Republicans, whose focus is training conservatives to run for office — something he thinks Democrats have done more successfully than the GOP of late. "We have about thirty candidates in the pipeline," he notes, "and the classes are free. We're a nonprofit, and this is a labor of love more than anything else."
As for the race to lead the Colorado Republican Party, Stockham recognizes that the field is crowded; others running include Scott Gessler, Kristi Burton Brown, Jonathan Lockwood and Rich Mancuso. "They're all good folks," he stresses, "but there wasn't anybody who made me say, 'Wow. If they get in there, it's going to be awesome.' So I pulled the trigger and announced."
The Colorado Republican Party "is in disarray right now, from my perspective," Stockham says, "and we haven't done the right things to reach out to other communities — which is the main thing I've been asking the party to do. We have a message of hope for the Black community, for the Hispanic community. We have to grow our base, be more open to individuals that aren't the typical white male, like myself, and we have to be more united on things. We seem to have circular firing squads happening all the time, and the Republican numbers are dwindling. The Democrat numbers aren't as bad as the Republican numbers, the unaffiliateds are skyrocketing, and now we're losing statewide elections and even county elections every cycle."
To counter this downward spiral, Stockham says, "We need to show up with solutions. And my solutions come from the free market, which is what the Republican Party has always believed. We need to get back to basics."
Stockham firmly believes that Trump loyalists and more traditional Republicans can make a formidable team. "In my opinion, President Trump did some really good things," he says. "He lowered taxes, he got us out of endless wars in the Middle East, and the economy was going great until COVID. Aside from the tweets and things like that, the country was going in a pretty good direction, and we need to build on the good things and get rid of the bad stuff. As long as you support the Constitution and the party platform and you're a halfway decent person, we should be able to work together."
Click here for more information about the March 27 meeting of the Colorado Republican State Central Committee, at which a new chair will be chosen.
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