Craig Steiner, u.s.
Common Sense American Conservatism
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With the presidential election behind us, attention in the Colorado GOP turns to leadership elections at the county, district, and state levels.
It is critically important that the Colorado GOP elect a pro-caucus state chairman at the March Organizational Meeting.
The debate over caucus is not new.
Many of us believe that caucus is the best example of grassroots political involvement in a representative republic. Every Republican in the state may participate, meet in small groups with their neighbors, and elect delegates to represent them at higher assemblies who in turn nominate the individuals who will be the Republican Party candidates. It simply requires attending a short meeting every other year at a local venue, and effectively embodies our representative republic: Just as our state legislators vote on bills on our behalf, so too do delegates who go on to the higher assemblies to represent their neighbors.
Not only is caucus republican government at the neighborhood level, it levels the playing field so that less-funded citizen candidates have an opportunity to be the party’s nominee so long as they have a reasonable level of grassroots support. Since it’s conducted in small meetings, campaigning usually consists of printing campaign flyers and getting supporters to attend caucus to speak on behalf of the candidate. Candidates going through the caucus process seldom need to run TV and radio ads that are so expensive that only establishment-supported big-money candidates can compete.
Primaries, on the other hand, are consistently preferred by big-money establishment candidates. Since a primary ballot goes to every eligible voter, the only way to become the party’s nominee is to raise boatloads of money which is then burned on high-priced media buys to become the Republican nominee. That is money that could be better spent campaigning against the Democrats in the expensive November campaign that is instead shoveled into a similarly-expensive primary campaign. The citizen candidate is all but shut-out and we end up with moderate, big-money establishment candidates as the party nominees.
This problem is further compounded now that Colorado law mandates parties may either have a closed caucus or an open primary. In other words, if the Republican Party chooses caucus, only Republicans can vote in Republican caucuses to choose the party nominee. But if the party chooses a primary, the primary must be open to both Republicans and unaffiliated ("independent") voters.
A primary is already notorious for producing more moderate candidates. But when the primary is "open," it means non-Republicans are choosing the Republican Party candidates. This will inevitably make the eventual nominee more moderate--and in a state like Colorado, maybe even liberal.
It should be further noted that if the state party chairman chooses to support an open primary this year, the Colorado GOP will effectively be voting itself into irrelevance. What is the point of being a registered Republican if a voter may remain unaffiliated and vote in either party’s primary? Why would a grassroots activist want to invest time in a county or state party if uninvolved unaffiliated voters have the same vote in the Republican Party’s nominee as Republicans do? Why would small donors want to contribute money to a party that will be doing little more than adding a few bucks to the well-funded establishment candidate who bought the primary? What exactly would the Colorado Republican Party and its activists be other than an unpaid mercenary-campaign team ready to invest time, sweat, and treasure to back whoever the unaffiliated voters helped in the primary?
If the Colorado GOP Chairman elected in March is in favor of getting rid of caucus, what will be the point of participating in the party, or even registering as a Republican at all?
Since the state party chairman is elected by the county party officers and bonus members who are elected at county party organizational meetings in February, it is important that precinct committee people and other voting members support and vote for leadership and bonus members who are committed to caucus and are committed to voting for a state party chairman who is also committed to caucus.
I left the Republican Party last summer. You shouldn’t let me have a vote in choosing the Republican nominee for Governor, Treasurer, Secretary of State, or Attorney General next year unless I rejoin.
And the only way to prevent non-Republicans from choosing your Republican candidates is by electing county party leadership and a state party chairman who will stand up to the establishment and support caucus.
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