Casper Stockham, a three-time Republican congressional nominee in Colorado, announced his candidacy for state GOP chair late Friday, describing himself as a grassroots candidate who can unify a party that has "lost the will to fight against overreaching government."
"I am a fighter, uniter and game changer!" the Air Force veteran and Uber Eats driver said in a Facebook video.
"I stand for election integrity, growing our base, supporting all GOP candidates and supporting the Constitution. We must unite as a party if we’re going to take back our state."
Stockham joins three other candidates in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who announced in December that he wasn't seeking a second term heading the Colorado GOP.
Already in the race are Kristi Burton Brown, the current vice chair of the state party and a constitutional law attorney; former Secretary of State Scott Gessler, an election law attorney; and Jonathan Lockwood, a veteran communications director for Republican candidates, elected officials and organizations.
The Colorado GOP will elect state-level officers — a chair, vice chair and secretary — to two-year terms on March 27 in a virtual meeting of its central committee, made up of elected officials and county officers and bonus members elected in reorganization meetings held through February.
Stockham has the distinction of being the only major-party Colorado candidate in memory to run for Congress in three different districts in a two-year period.
He was the Republican nominee twice, in 2016 and 2018, against U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette in the heavily Democratic 1st Congressional District, losing both times by overwhelming margins. In 2020, Stockham lost a bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter in the 7th CD after first running in a primary to take on U.S. Rep. Jason Crow in the 6th CD.
In his announcement video, Stockham said he understands the state GOP's woes and has a plan to right the party.
"Our voter numbers have been going down for years and we have lost the will to fight against overreaching government," he said.
"At some point, we need to ask ourselves, can we chart a new course in Colorado without giving up our God-given rights and values? Can we start winning more elections as Republicans with the current voting system and process in place that always seems to favor our Democrat opponents? My answer is, yes, we can — but it’s going to require a reality check and a lot of hard work to get things on the right track."
Added Stockham: "I never leave the fight, I just find other ways to get things done. We need to clean up the voting process. We need to grow our base. We need to unite the party."
Stockham started a nonprofit group in December dedicated to recruiting and training conservative Republican candidates who the group's organizers say aren't getting the support they need from the state GOP.
"This is not a third party," Stockham told supporters at a December event launching America First Republicans at the group's Adams County headquarters. "This is a training, support and activist organization to get Republicans elected to office. But we’re not looking for the establishment to pick candidates for us. We’re going to pick our own candidates."
Gessler and Brown welcomed Stockham to the race. Lockwood, however, came out swinging, blasting Stockham and his fellow chair candidates in a lengthy statement and a series of incendiary social media posts
"Casper’s a good guy. I welcome him into the race," Gessler told Colorado Politics in a text message echoed by Brown.
Tweeted Lockwood: "I am running for chair against a troika of failed pandering politicians that have enriched themselves running multiple, totally failed: recall efforts, ballot proposals, and congressional campaigns. They are all incapable of leading @ColoGOP to victory."
In another tweet, Lockwood blasted his rivals as "failed, pandering politicians."
"Why don't we get someone to lead the @ColoGOP who is actually going to move votes and be a leader?" he added.
Warning that the state party will "devolve into super-minority status and become totally defunct" if Republicans put Stockham in charge, Lockwood said in a statement, "I am the only candidate in this race with a proven track-record of orchestrating the type of media events and long-form political strategies to hold the Democrats accountable. There is too much at stake to continue going down this road to irrelevance."