Declaring that he wants to "remake the Republican Party into a strong, conservative organization" that can start winning elections again, election law attorney Scott Gessler, a former Colorado secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate, announced Monday that he's running to chair the state GOP.
"Success will not be handed to us," Gessler said in email launching his campaign, which has been anticipated for months.
"Doing the same thing over and over won’t make what’s happening go away. To win again, the Colorado Republican Party requires a new direction. It needs to be fearless. Unapologetic. Effective. Defeating the left-wing political/media/big tech matrix will be hard work. But we can do it — and put Colorado back on the path of freedom, prosperity, and justice."
The 55-year-old Army veteran served one term as secretary of state from 2011-2015 and mound an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2014, when he finished third in a four-way primary.
The state GOP elects officers to two-year terms at its central committee meeting in late March, following country reorganization meetings that take place in February.
State Republican Party Chairman U.S. Rep. Ken Buck said in December that he won't seek a second term.
Gessler's only competition so far for the GOP's top spot is Kristi Burton Brown, a constitutional law attorney and the state party's current vice chairman.
Brown welcomed Gessler to the race in a statement to Colorado Politics.
"Scott has done many things to advance the Republican cause in Colorado, but I believe it’s time to show another face of the Republican Party: one that’s hopeful, optimistic, and believes in a bright future for everyone across our diverse state," she said.
Gessler outlined a multi-point plan to reverse the state GOP's fortunes, which are at or near their lowest point in decades in the wake of the last two election cycles. Following a drubbing at the polls in 2018, when Democrats won every statewide office on the ballot and flipped a congressional seat that had been in Republican hands since its creation, voters denied Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner a second term and handed the state's electoral votes to Democrat Joe Biden.
The Republican Party, Gessler said, needs to help its candidates win by providing training, volunteers and financial support, hold the Democrats accountable and reverse the decade-long trend of that has seen GOP affiliation sink to its lowest share of statewide registration in memory.
"Our candidates and our county parties look for help, but their phone calls often go unanswered," Gessler said. "Republican candidates need support but find little in the way of training, volunteers, and money. Candidates and county parties often beg for better access to voter data. Under my leadership, the party will flawlessly execute on the basics."
Gessler, who embraced the nickname "honey badger" after leftists compared him to the vicious, relentless rodent, vowed to swing back instead of letting Republicans "get crushed by the left-wing media machine, with no effective response."
"It is the Republican Party that must stick its neck out, break through and get the truth out," he said. "Our party’s timidity in the past has brought us to this present moment."
He also stressed the importance of bringing "independents and conservative-leaning voters everywhere into our big tent," warning that the GOP "is slowly, inexorably, slipping into irrelevance" in many parts of the state.
Gessler's initial list of endorsers includes more than a dozen Republican legislators, county party officers and a raft of former candidates and elected officials, led by former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown and Gessler's successor as secretary of state, Colorado Springs City Councilman Wayne Williams.
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