A Colorado state Representative has joined a national communications network, called the ReopenAmerica Project, aiming to “amplify voices that advance a more productive conversation” about “getting America up and running.”

State Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) and Oregon state Sen. Dennis Linthicum are the two founding lawmakers in the group, created by Jonathan Lockwood, who once ran a Colorado conservative group called Advancing Colorado and later worked for Linthicum.

Lockwood said in an email to the Colorado Times Recorder that he was funding the project and expects it to grow.

“We are seeing the unintended consequences of a too extreme, one-size-fits-all approach to combatting coronavirus,” said Saine, in a news release about the formation of the ReopenAmerica Project. “I would like to see a more balanced approach that looks at the costs of the decisions being made and really takes into account how many lives will be lost if we do not get our country back up and running.”

Patrick Neville broadcasting from the ReOpen Colorado protest.

Saine, who also serves as the House GOP Caucus Chair, is the second member of the Colorado House Republican leadership to question the value of the state’s public health restrictions. Minority Leader Patrick Neville attended Sunday’s “ReOpen Colorado” protest at the Capitol, where protesters demanded that Governor Polis end the stay-at-home order.

Lockwood’s news release emphasizes that the group will focus on a data-driven approach.

But the homepage features only two data points: the number of Americans who’ve filed for unemployment and the percentage of the workforce that’s “likely” unemployed.

Asked if he was planning on giving equal priority to public health and economic data, Lockwood said that “Americans want to see balance to the conversation” and “the economic impact needs to be especially highlighted in order to bring that balance.” 

“We will be including more public health information as we move forward, the project was just launched as we headed into this weekend,” wrote Lockwood. He added some later, emailing me that it was good feedback.

Lockwood is probably best known in Colorado for an advertisement his group developed targeting Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet’s support of the Iran nuclear deal. The ad depicted kids counting down and then a nuclear bomb exploding, concluding with a request to contact Bennet.

The Denver Post called Lockwood “flat-out deranged” after he designed the attack ad

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Lockwood also was among the leaders of campaigns to recall Democrats for passing gun control laws. And he worked for former U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) and perennial GOP candidate Casper Stockham, who’s currently running for Congress, this time in the Seventh District.

“I am working on getting business leaders, health workers and others involved to create a dynamic conversation. Opening up America again is not a partisan issue and we need all hands on deck to saving lives and livelihoods,” said Lockwood via email.

“I really would love Democrats to join the project and to even have internal debates. We need more data, more communication, more knowledge sharing, and less partisan politics–lives depend on it,” he wrote.

Correction: This post originally referred to state Rep. Saine as a state Senator.