Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Dick Wadhams's exit from Republican chair race to help Ted Harvey and party conservatives?

The Colorado Republican Party didn't just lose the governor's race in November -- it also lost over a hundred bonus members of the State Central Committee, which will vote for the new party chair next month.

Incumbent chair Dick Wadhams was going for that slot again -- until his Monday announcement that he'd decided against running.

Each county in Colorado starts with three delegates to the committee meeting -- the chair, vice-chair and secretary, who the counties are in the process of electing. But each county also gets two bonus members for every 10,000 votes it delivered for the Republican candidate for governor or president in the last election.

Given Dan Maes's sorry showing in the gubernatorial race in November, very few counties are getting bonus members this round; the metro counties are particularly hard-hit. And Ted Harvey, the conservative state senator who'd already said he was going for the party chair position when Wadhams was still in the race, sees that as a positive thing -- even though the party will have only a handful of the 128 bonus members who could have been voting at the committee meeting.

"Dick has been involved in the party for a long time and has a lot of friendships and loyalties that are longstanding," Harvey says. "With him stepping aside, a lot of those folks are coming to support my efforts," as well as his decidedly more conservative positions -- which he thinks might appeal to some of the more far-flung counties.

"I think it's important for the party that we have the entire state having a say," he says. "It "levels the playing field... Hopefully, that will help the healing process."

But with new candidates, including party lawyer Ryan Call, already jumping into the party chair race, it looks like the Colorado Republican Party could sustain some more bruises before the healing begins.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Dick Wadhams, not running to lead Republicans in CO, is tired of carping, conservative strategies."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun