About 75 people gathered on the West Steps of the Colorado Capitol Thursday in support of a proposal to hold a Constitutional Convention where delegates from Colorado and other states would propose amendments that could fundamentally deconstruct the U.S. Constitution’s design for how America is governed.

The rally came on the heels of a hearing Monday in the Colorado House, where Democrats defeated a measure in an 8 – 3 party-line vote calling for a Constitutional Convention to “impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.” Thirty-eight states would have to pass such resolutions to trigger a Constitutional Convention, as stipulated under Article V of the U. S. Constitution. About a dozen states, plus or minus depending on how you count, have passed such resolutions.

The last Constitutional Convention, where delegates unexpectedly tossed out the Articles of Confederation in favor of creating a new constitution, occurred in 1787, and it’s widely acknowledged that amendments proposed at a modern-day convention, in the midst of the deep divisions in America, could have broad and unforeseen consequences. Furthermore, the convention’s scope and rules would be created at the convention, with no judicial remedy available should delegates decide to say, ban abortion or repeal women’s right to vote using a one state one vote rule.

Despite the risks, prominent Colorado Republicans support it, including House Minority Leader Rose Pugliese, who was among 11 GOP sponsors of the Convention of the States resolution. In 2022, Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Penrose) was the prime sponsor of a similar resolution. The conservative support locally reflects a longstanding and well-funded effort by right-wing groups, including the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council, to advance the issue nationally.

Holtorf (left) and Lundberg

Two of the sponsors of Colorado’s resolution, Gabe Evans (R-Ft. Lupton) and Mike Lynch (R-Wellington), are congressional candidates, Evans in Colorado’s 8th Congressional District (CD8) north of Denver, and Lynch in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District (CD4) on the Eastern Plains.

Evans touts his endorsement from Michael Farris, who is co-founder of the Convention of the States (COS), which is organizing support nationally for a Constitutional Convention. Its website pictures Evans speaking at a COS event — and lists former Coloradan Jenna Ellis among the endorsers of the national effort.

Another congressional candidate, Richard Holtorf (R-Akron), who spoke at Thursday’s rally, is competing against Lynch in the CD4 GOP primary.

In his speech to the crowd, Holtorf said more members of the Legislature would have liked to have joined him at the rally.

“It’s not that they don’t want to be down here,” he said. “It’s we’re fighting some godless heathens up there. Not all of them, but there’s plenty of them up there.”

“One thing you need to know is, don’t quit,” Holtorf said. “Don’t stop. It’s a game of inches and yards, okay? You’re making progress … You’re getting closer to the finish line.”

At the rally, former state lawmaker Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) cited his opponents who say that a Constitutional Convention would have “no rules” and anything could happen.

“Well, it is true that whenever a convention of any sort forms, that body adopts the rules initially,” said Lundberg, citing his personal experience at two simulated conventions, staged to prepare for the real thing one day. “… and if there’s one thing I want to emphasize, it’s that a Convention of States to propose amendments is a very orderly and well-defined process for proposing amendments to the 50 states, and of course you need three-fourths, which is a minimum of 38 states, to actually ratify.”

The core reason for holding a Constitutional Convention, he said, is because the federal government is “too big and too controlling.”

Another speaker was Mark Meckler, the national president of the Convention of the States Action, and the founder of the Tea Party Patriots as well as the CEO of Parler, a right-wing social media site.

“This is not a permanently blue state,” he said at the rally, which was sponsored by Convention of States Action.” This is the wild west.”

One rallygoer, Art Sickler, who coordinates veterans for Colorado’s Convention of the States chapter, said, “The fox is not going to fix the hole in the hen house. Who is going to fix term limits? The founding fathers were inspired by God. They were young men who had dreams of a great country.”

Meckler addresses the crowd.