Colorado Republicans reaffirmed the party's and its leading candidates' election message this week at a press conference devoted to the same policy agenda unveiled a year earlier by the GOP.
"Today I'm proud to stand up here with some tremendous candidates from all across Colorado who are focused on making things better for our state and the families who call Colorado home," said state party chair Kristi Burton Brown at a press conference held outside a Denver event center owned by the GOP's U.S. Senate nominee on Aug. 9.
"Colorado voters are independent-minded people, people like all of us, who want the right to make choices in our own lives. Unless we are doing something that hurts someone else, we should have the freedom to make our own way," she said before describing the elements of the party's "Commitment to Colorado," a list of promises announced by Burton Brown and other party leaders and conservative groups on the same date last year at a similar press conference at a Denver gas station.
Leading the list: making the state affordable amid sustained inflation and high gas prices, prioritizing public safety as the state's crime rate surges, and expanding school choice.
Flanked by legislative leaders, nearly all of the GOP's statewide nominees and candidates in the two most competitive congressional districts, Burton Brown laid the problems her party's program is meant to address at the feet of Democrats, who have held all the levers of power in Colorado for the last four years.
"It is time for the change," she said. "Every Republican candidate you see across our state — and you will see every one of our statewide candidates or nationally targeted congressional candidates and the leaders of our Senate and House caucuses today — is a problem-solver."
Among the politicians flanking Burton Brown were gubernatorial nominee Heidi Ganahl, who is finishing a six-year term as an at-large member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents and is the last Colorado Republican holding statewide office; Senate nominee Joe O'Dea, the construction company founder and CEO who also owns Mile High Station, the event center under the Colfax Viaduct, where the press conference took place; District Attorney John Kellner, the attorney general nominee; former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson, the GOP's candidate for Secretary of State; former state Rep. Lang Sias, R-Arvada, who is running for state treasurer; and at-large State Board of Education nominee Dan Maloit.
They're challenging Democratic incumbents Gov. Jared Polis, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, Attorney General Phil Weiser, Secretary of State Jena Griswold and State Treasurer Dave Young. Democrat Kathy Plomer is the nominee for the State Board of Education at-large seat.
Also on hand at the Republicans' event this week were House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, who is running for reelection, and term-limited Senate Minority Leader John Cooke, R-Greeley, a former Weld County sheriff; Michael Fields, a who heads Republican-aligned advocacy groups Advance Colorado and Advance Colorado Action; and Randy Corporon, an attorney who heads a tea party group and serves as one of Colorado's three members of the Republican National Committee.
"While Democrats give you empty election year rhetoric, Republicans will produce results," Burton Brown said after lambasting the party in power for temporarily suspending a gas tax increase and taking credit for $750 checks that began going out last week to all Colorado taxpayers under a provision of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a an amendment to the state constitution Democrats mostly oppose and tried unsuccessfully to amend three years ago with a statewide ballot measure.
Since the state GOP outlined its priorities last summer, the Democratic-controlled legislature killed more than 40 Republican bills identified as part of the agenda, and inflation has surged to levels not seen since the 1980s. Gas prices also spiked, though prices at the pump have plunged roughly a dollar a gallon in the last six weeks.
Each of the statewide and congressional candidates spoke for a couple minutes, describing how their campaigns demonstrate the principles in the party's agenda.
"As governor, I'll unleash Colorado's economy and pour more money back into your pocket by taking our great state to zero income tax and cutting the red tape to make housing affordable again and cutting the gas tax in half and still fixing our roads," said Ganahl, who hasn't described how she can accomplish either goal without massive cuts to state spending.
O'Dea took aim at the sweeping climate change, health care and budget legislation passed days earlier by the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate, which is expected to make its way to President Joe Biden's desk after press time.
"Just this past weekend, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act," O'Dea said. "It goes against everything that we believe in here in Colorado."
O'Dea later said there wasn't a single item in the package he could support.
Anderson, who won a nasty primary in June against indicted Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and first-time candidate Mike O'Donnell, stressed her intention to bring transparency and professionalism to the office, which oversees elections in the state. Peters, who has refused to concede, paid for a statewide recount last week that confirmed she lost the primary by around 88,000 votes. She a leading national figure in the election denial movement loyal to former President Donald Trump's unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.
"I am proud to stand up and support every candidate here today as professionals, entrepreneurs and problem-solvers that will bring their background and experience to the table to address the most challenging issues that Colorado faces today," Anderson said at the press conference.
Notably absent from the event was Ganahl's lieutenant governor pick, Aurora business owner and Navy veteran Danny Moore, who was removed as chairman of the state's Independent Congressional Redistricting Committee last year after his social media posts questioning Trump's loss to Biden came to light, including one that claimed Biden was "the guy elected by the Democrat steal!"
Lexi Swearingen, a Ganahl campaign spokeswoman, told Colorado Politics that Moore hadn't been invited to speak at the press conference and said the campaign was "maximizing resources" by not sending the gubernatorial nominee's running mate to the event.
After the politicians delivered their speeches, Burton Brown told the dozen reporters that "any question today needs to be focused on the Colorado topics we addressed," adding that candidates would be available for "separate conversations" after the press conference broke up.
Asked how the party's slate plans to speak to voter concerns about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade and continuing revelations about attempts by the Trump White House and its allies to prevent Biden from taking office, Burton Brown denied that Colorado voters care about those issues.
"I think any time that we're talking to voters — and so many of these candidates up here are knocking on doors every single day — the voters are telling us what they're concerned about," she said. "And Democrats would like you to think that's what they're concerned about, but they're actually concerned about gas prices, grocery prices, crime and their kids' schools. Consistently, those are the only issues we hear at the door."
Colorado Democratic Party chair Morgan Carroll disagreed, in a statement issued after the press conference organized by her GOP counterpart.
“Democrats are offering real solutions from the state to federal levels, taking action to keep costs low and putting more money in Coloradans’ pockets, and protecting basic freedoms for all Coloradans," Carroll said. "Democrats are interested in lifting up all Colorado families. The Colorado GOP is out of touch with what Coloradans need and is only offering a far-right, failed agenda: taking away the freedom from women to make their own decisions, denying climate change, and growing tax cuts that benefit the wealthy and make things tougher for working families.”
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