"We need to talk about the future, not the past, and stop recycling the same old boring solutions so we can improve Colorado lives and livelihoods," says Jonathan Lockwood, who hopes to succeed U.S. Representative Ken Buck as chair of the Colorado Republican Party; the vote takes place on March 27. "We need to be a more inclusive, more productive and more forward-looking party."
Lockwood, who's served as a spokesperson for dozens of organizations, lawmakers and candidates over the past decade or so, certainly has a keen grasp of modern communication, as witnessed by his busy Twitter account and a website devoted to his writings. And he built these skills brick by brick.
"I first got involved in politics at the tail end of my undergraduate years in college," notes Lockwood, who studied journalism at Metropolitan State University of Denver prior to earning a master's degree in public relations and corporate communications from Georgetown University. "I grew up in a moderate Republican family, and at the time, Republicans were, I think, really listening to voters, becoming more inclusive and working hard to reach out to different types of voters."
After an internship through the office of ex-state representative B.J. Nikkel and hands-on efforts for various campaigns, including former congressman Mike Coffman's successful 2012 race, he took on communication duties for Republicans in the Colorado House. In the years since then, he launched the local branch of Generation Opportunity, a millennial advocacy group, acted as the executive director for Advancing Colorado, which "works to advance a culture of opportunity and freedom through advocacy, education and outreach," and assisted candidates and groups in both Colorado and Oregon.
"I'm unorthodox in my approach a lot of times," he acknowledges. "I can be brash. But I really feel that the American people and, more specifically in this case, the people of Colorado, need a healthy Republican Party, because one-party rule and no credible opposition is not good for Colorado, whether we're talking about lockdown procedures, employment or holding the executive branch accountable. There are real issues we need to be able to push back on, and we can't do that when our brand is so toxic. We can't even work with Democrats when their allies are asking them what they're doing when they're sitting down with people who are palling around with the worst of the American political system."
If you suspect this last comment is an allusion to a certain former president turned Florida resident, you're right.
"I think a lot of Trump supporters are being played," Lockwood says. "I think they're being exploited by figures and organizations that are essentially adrift. In today's Republican Party, you can get a million retweets and likes if you jump up and down and say how much you feel Trump has saved America and give your salvation story. But the second you criticize him, there's a holy war."
Unlike the other candidates for Colorado Republican Party chair (Scott Gessler, Kristi Burton Brown, Casper Stockham and Rich Mancuso), Lockwood doesn't hesitate for an instant when stating that Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election, and he points out that "Colorado rejected Trumpism not once, but twice. Supporting or not supporting Trump is not a good measure of organizational management and communication prowess, and both are needed if we want to lead our state party to victory. We cannot continue to dwell on 2020. We need to look forward, especially to 2022."
Lockwood doesn't castigate "hardworking activists and well-intentioned people" for the troubles afflicting the Republican Party in Colorado. "I'm blaming political insiders who know exactly what they're doing and don't give a damn about outcomes of elections because it doesn't change their lives," he explains. "But Colorado is my home state, and I don't like seeing the Colorado Republican Party shrink in numbers and impact — and that's why I'm running."
Adds Lockwood: "The Republican party has a tremendous opportunity to talk about unemployment, to talk about the cost of living, to talk about leveling the playing field so that we can, for example, democratize investing. We can talk about things like Blockchain technology within government to make things more transparent and secure."
He concludes: "We should be the party of self-determinism, freedom and equality, and right now, we're not. But we can be again if we rebuild and expand the party."
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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