Opening Day Susan Beckman

State Rep. Susan Beckman, R-Littleton, on Opening Day of the Colorado General Assembly at the State Capitol on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Denver.

State Rep. Susan Beckman, a Littleton Republican who was sworn in to her second term last week, announced Monday she's running for Colorado Republican Party chair in the state GOP's upcoming March reorganization.

Beckman, one of the only Republicans to survive November's Democratic wave election in suburban Arapahoe County, told Colorado Politics her experience "on the ground," coupled with her expertise running large organizations, qualifies her to lead the party ahead of the crucial 2020 elections.

Beckman, a former Arapahoe County commissioner and Littleton City Council member, said she decided to run before current state Republican chair Jeff Hays announced on Friday that he won't seek a second two-year term.

"I feel very strongly about what I know and what I saw in the last election, and I feel that my expertise and my experience and my drive and my leadership to know that we can do better than the last election was my motivation for going ahead," she said in an interview.

"When you’re on the ground and you know your numbers, and you know your constituents, you can feel it, you can see it, you can taste it," she said. "I knew what had happened. We can do better. We need to work on the ground game, we can better utilize our funding, we need to restructure our good county party structures."

Beckman said she intends to resign her House District 38 seat at the end of the General Assembly's 120-day session if she wins the party election, which is set for March 30 following county-level reorganization meetings that kick off in early February.

"The (November) election reflects a more 'left' Colorado than I think we are," she said, pointing to Democratic wins across the board and up and down the ballot, including in seats that haven't ever been represented by Democrats.

"It really does break my heart to see that the balance of Colorado has moved so far left. I think it is going to be really hard on businesses. We just have Western values. I believe in the Republican platform."

Beckman said she doesn't buy the two most common post-election assessments she's heard — that voters were rejecting President Donald Trump by voting against any Republican, and that Democrats out-spent Republicans by wide margins, led by Gov.-elect Jared Polis, the multi-millionaire who self-funded his campaign with more than $20 million.

Instead, she says, the GOP has to figure out the nuts and bolts of how to run campaigns and elect Republicans.

"Everybody says, ‘Oh, we were so out-spent,’ but the reality of it is, with the numbers I’ve seen, we were not out-spent," she said. As for Trump's influence, Beckman dismissed the hypothesis, arguing that the state's vast number of unaffiliated voters have proven they'll turn out for Republicans when both sides are waging comparable campaigns.

"We’ve got a long road back, but I do believe that having won bipartisan elections, that political experience — having served conservatively — means that the central committee members can know I’m a conservative and I believe in the platform. And my executive experience through my years as an administrator in Arapahoe County and in the state of Colorado gives me strategy experience management, procurement contracts — all the things you do when you’re spending money in a campaign, but instead of just giving money out, you need to create a plan," she said.

Before being elected to the first of three terms as county commissioner, Beckman managed an office in the Colorado Department of Human Services. She said that's central to the case she intends to make to fellow party members.

"I actually don’t think this position is a show position, it’s not a political position," she said.

"It’s not a show horse, it’s a work horse, where you are meeting with he county parties. It’s not a part-time job. We are in big trouble in Colorado, the Republican Party, and we need to look at our messaging, our outreach, our registration and getting our ground game back — utilizing our volunteers and spending our money differently."

Beckman may soon have company in the race to lead the state's GOP.

Josh Hosler, chair of the El Paso County Republicans, told The Gazette Monday he won't seek another term as head of the county party but is considering running for state GOP chair in the wake of Hays' announcement he won’t run again.

Others considering bids for the statewide position include Colorado Republican Party vice chair Sherrie Gibson and former Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn, who mounted an unsuccessful campaign for state treasurer last year.

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