Kristi Burton Brown rally

In this file photo, Kristi Burton Brown, vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party, leads a "Stop the Madness" rally on Oct. 10, 2019, outside the Aurora office of U.S. Rep. Jason Crow to urge the Democrat to vote against impeaching President Donald Trump. On Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, Brown declared she was running for state GOP chair at the party's March reorganizational meeting.

Kristi Burton Brown, the vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party and the constitutional attorney who co-sponsored the first attempt to pass a state personhood amendment, is running for the state GOP's top job, she announced Thursday.

"We face a crisis and a crossroads as a party here in Colorado, and I have a plan to get us successfully through," Brown, 33, said in a statement launching her bid for the open seat.

She isn't overstating the party's difficult situation.

Following sweeping losses at nearly every level of government in the last two elections, Colorado Republicans hold less power than they have at any time since the 1930s, with only a single statewide elected official — an at-large University of Colorado regent — and near-historic minorities in the General Assembly.

Brown's response: "Never Surrender!"

That's the slogan of her party chair campaign, and it sums up the approach she outlined in her announcement.

"We will never stop fighting," Brown said. "President Trump taught us what it means to fight, to deliver on the promises we make, to pass legislation that helps the working-class American, and to communicate our foundational values to minority communities. We would be fools to lose what he has taught us. The fight to keep America free is not over ... it has only begun."

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the state GOP's chairman, said last month that he won't seek a second term running the party. He isn't expected to make an endorsement in the race for his successor.

In an interview with Colorado Politics, Brown said she's running on a two-pronged platform — communicating the party's principles more effectively to voters and doing a better job recruiting candidates.

"We have to reform our party, and by that I don’t mean changing any of our principles — we stand for all the same things we’ve always stood for as Republicans — but how we make those principles real in people’s everyday lives," she said.

"I don't think we’ve effectively communicated that to people, that our policies make their lives better, our policies provide more educational opportunities for their children, so our party has to be better at communicating those issues."

As far as recruiting candidates and building the party's bench, Brown said she wants to encourage the right kind of candidates to run.

"They'll be very district specific," she said. "They need to be a member of their community, someone who has a story in that community and has built their life in that community."

Added Brown: "Those Republican candidates will look different across the state, and we should welcome that."

Brown has a history of fighting. In 2008, she was the 19-year-old face of Amendment 48, a state ballot initiative dubbed the personhood amendment, which would have defined a person under the state constitution as "any human being from the moment of fertilization."

Opponents said the measure would have given legal rights to embryos and banned most methods of contraception, and state voters rejected the measure by a 3-to-1 margin. Voters also shot down two similar measures in subsequent years, though by smaller margins.

Brown also spearheaded a failed 2019 recall effort against state Rep. Tom Sullivan over the Centennial Democrat's support for gun-control measures.

An associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an arm of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, Brown writes articles and testifies at state legislatures on constitutional matters.

Brown served as lead policy adviser for U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert's general election campaign after the Rifle Republican defeated U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in a primary last year.

Colorado Republicans will elect party officers to two-year terms in late March at a meeting of the state GOP's central committee — including elected officials and county party officers — following county party reorganizations that take place through February.

Republicans who have indicated they're interested in running for the state chairmanship include former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and former state vice chairman and past congressional nominee Don Ytterberg, who has been working as a senior adviser to the state party under Buck.

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