By inching over 10 percent of the vote last Tuesday, Dan Maes saved the Colorado Republican Party from the humiliation of falling to minor-party status. But while Tom Tancredo didn't win the race, his 30 percent-plus of the vote elevated the American Constitution Party to a major Colorado party.
"We haven't been officially notified yet of major-party status," says Doug "Dayhorse" Campbell, who was the ACP's lieutenant governor candidate on the November ballot until Tancredo took over the top slot, and brought in his own second, Pat Miller. "I guess it's nice to be thought if in that way -- but we're still just really a small party."
So small, in fact, that the party only has about a thousand members -- and Colorado has 3,000 voting precincts. "There are certain counties where we don't have registered voters," Campbell says of the party that started back in 1992. "We're still in a growth situation. We think that, quite frankly, there ought not to be this tension between major and minor parties. There should be just parties - there shouldn't be different rules."
And he has several ideas for how those rules should be changed. Even as a major party, the ACP won't have a primary -- certainly not a primary taxpayers fund, as they do now. "It's our feeling that we don't want to hang our internal party function on the backs of the taxpayers," Campbell says. "We think that's consistent with our position of less government, less taxes and less spending."
The six members of the ACP's executive committee will meet tonight, to discuss how the party's new status might change its operations. But Campbell anticipates that there could be other changes in the offing -- at the legislature, where Republicans managed to take over the House even if they almost lost their major-party label. "I think the two major parties basically thought there could never be a situation where they'd have a candidate who'd get less than 10 percent. They're going to pass some kind of de facto legislation to take away our major-party status," he predicts.
"Everybody likes to change the rules in the middle of the eighth inning," Campbell concludes. "It ain't over until the big lady sings her final note."
More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Tom Tancredo's run for Colorado governor proves that shirt happens."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.