So-called grassroots Republicans have lots of excuses for the party’s diminishing returns in Colorado politics over the past two decades, but they want you to know that the party is united and ready to claim its deserved mantle of victory in 2022.
According to two grassroots members of the Colorado GOP executive committee, the 20-year losing trend is a result of many factors. It’s the media. It’s “Trump derangement syndrome” and ignorant voters. It’s fickle unaffiliated voters. It’s legalized cannabis. It’s Democratic dark money playing in Republican open primaries. It’s ballot harvesting, rigged elections, and voter fraud. It’s Antifa posing as Trump supporters in a false flag operation of violently storming the U.S. Capitol.
For them, the Colorado GOP’s dismal political prospects are definitely NOT due to Trump’s documented sinking popularity, rapidly changing state demographics, GOP policy positions, nor candidates’ tone-deaf messaging.
And it definitely is not due to intraparty power struggles between establishment and “grassroots” or Trump factions of the Republican Party. That is, until their message discipline falls apart and their truth comes out.
Randy Corporon, conservative radio host, GOP National Committeeman, and member of the CO GOP Executive committee appeared from CPAC in March on a conservative podcast hosted by Chuck Bonniwell, also an Executive Committee member, and they agreed that the Republican Party is united, as verified by the optimistic vibe among CPAC attendees.
“Somebody asked a few minutes ago if I had to describe the takeaway so far at CPAC, what would I say in two words,” recounted Corporon. “And I said, ‘Party Unity.’ The swamp has no idea what’s coming. … I was on with Peter Boyles this morning and he talks about a division in the Republican Party. I just don’t see it. This is a sorting, a flushing out of the old guard, you know, four-decade-long establishment Republicans who are at the end of their power and they know it.”
Bonniwell begins his response by agreeing, but changes tack to the more familiar frame that has come to define his confrontational and provocative style. He passive-aggressively slams Republican pollster David Flaherty of Magellan Strategies, and sardonically insults former Colorado Republican legislator Lois Landgraf for launching an organization to train candidates and promote an element of reasonableness among conservatives.
“You know, I don’t think there is a civil war [among Republicans],” said Bonniwell. It’s always people on the left that say there is a civil war, somehow. But in Colorado, it really hasn’t – really – been totally sorted out. You have Friends of the Future, Lois Landgraf, that whole group of Chinese Communist members. Um, and it’s – and we’ve got, you know – it is going to be a continued fight. And we had David Flaherty … from Magellan strategies [on a podcast Bonniwell guest-hosted], and he was great! [Julie Hayden, Bonniwell’s wife and co-host, punctuates that appraisal with an exaggerated eyeroll.] And I love David. But you know, he said [that] now, only a moderate [can win.] … You have to be pro-New Green Deal, you’ve got to be all these things to be electable in Colorado.'”
Corporon and Bonniwell appear to believe that Colorado Republicans have united around grassroots Trump supporters, America First candidates, MAGA Nation, and militant militia members, vanquishing the so-called establishment Republicans.
Meanwhile, however, the power struggles between GOP factions play out in a variety of issues that come before the Executive Committee.
Bonniwell is currently banding with Republican activists in an effort to have the party opt out of open primaries, which Colorado instituted with affirmative votes on Propositions 107 (64-36%) and 108 (53-46%). Dick Wadhams, a lauded Republican strategist, disagreed with the efficacy of that strategy when he appeared on Bonniwell’s show in February. The GOP can opt out with a 75% majority vote of 500-plus Republican members of the State Central Committee.
Another division debated in the GOP Executive Committee involved the results of the El Paso County GOP officer election in February. Bonniwell voted to approve grassroots incumbent Chairwoman Vicki Tonkins’ 7-vote win, but was outvoted and a new election was ordered in March. Tonkins successfully appealed to the state central committee and retained her office.
“Well, to let everybody know, they had an election down in El Paso [County] for their county chair,” Bonniwell explained. “Vicki [Tonkins] won in a really hard-fought contest. But of course, [Tonkins’ opponent] Peg Littleton didn’t like the idea of Vicki being the head. And so, Peg and the forces of evil, from El Paso – yeah, [County Commissioner and former Secretary of State] Wayne Williams, the whole usual group of them, who really hate the grassroots, hate Trump when it really comes down to it — [contested the election results]. … And so they protest[ed] up to the Executive Committee – which I’m one of the members of – and I thought Vicki did a good presentation. But in a moment of mental insanity, it was voted down. I voted for it – to retain it, for Vicki. I was one of the three of the sixteen who voted for it. So, she appealed it up to the much bigger state central committee, which has 500-plus members, [which] met this past weekend [in March.] … And that was great, because from the day you were elected – the establishment can’t stand it when grassroots people are elected. They just can’t stand it! It just drives them nuts.”
Hayden declared the central committee ruling as “a massive victory again of grassroots, common sense, Make America Great Again, Colorado Republicans over the establishment.”
Following Corporon’s appearance on their show, Hayden and Bonniwell discussed Flaherty’s opinion survey results from Colorado, in which Hayden recollected an item indicating that 50+% of voters were supportive of federal, state and county local governance regarding the handling of the COVID pandemic. Bonniwell and Hayden criticized the moderate unaffiliated voters of Colorado who determine outcomes in Colorado elections, and mocked any Repulibcan official holders who represent them.
BONNIWELL: You know, we’ve got to fight the [50%]. Because, if the 50% control the Republican Party, it will never win another election. I mean, they say, “We identify with the unaffiliated [voters].”
HAYDEN: “We self-identify!”
BONNIWELL: Yeah! “We self identify with the unaffiliated [voters].”
HAYDEN: “We self-identify as squishes.” We need to say, “NO!”
BONNIWELL: No! No! No!