A Colorado Republican Action Plan

By Patrick Davis

In the 34 years in which I have been involved with Republican campaigns and the party organizations that support them, having a plan for winning on Election Day is the common denominator for success.

Since the last Election Day, November 8 we have all read the predictions of the death of the Republican Party in Colorado and it is hard to disagree with most of the predictions.  Reviving and rebuilding the Republican party and brand in Colorado will take a plan of action to which our party activists, donors and leaders are committed to supporting, funding, and executing.     

The next Election Day is November 5, 2024.  Our General Election ballot will contain races for President, Congress, CU Board of Regents, State Legislators, ballot initiatives and down ballot contests.  Notably absent are races for US Senate, Governor, or any other statewide high-profile office.  In an election year like 2024, Colorado voters should not expect to endure a barrage of television advertising from either presidential campaign as Colorado has lost its position as a battleground state and neither party can afford to pay for advertising in a solid Democrat state which Colorado has become.

This fact will give Republican candidates an opportunity to run their own messaging campaigns without having to worry about how a Presidential or Governor candidate’s campaign messaging will impact their campaign.  

Now, to the action plan. These points are not meant to be prescriptive or absolute.  They were written from the perspective of “be for what is happening” and “past is prologue in politics.”  Let’s get started. 

GOP Plan of action:

  • Aggressively ID all Unaffiliated voters in 2023 on issues and not candidates.
  • Aggressively recruit, train, and outwardly support candidates which reflect the General Election voters (determined by ID work) in the district in which they would run.  Candidates who do not reflect the general election voters in their district can choose to run as a Republican, but they should be told in no uncertain terms that they will not receive support from the Republican party in the General Election unless they can demonstrate competitiveness (polling and cash on hand) should they win a Primary Election by Labor Day in an Election Year.
  • Invest heavily in rebuilding the Republican small donor base in Colorado through an emphasis on direct mail, email, texting, and digital advertising.   
  • Eliminate Republican Precinct Caucus’.  They are a vestige of a bygone era.  Republicans are a distinct minority on the Colorado voter file having lost 178,000 registered voters since 2004.  In that same period, Democrats added 117,000 voters and Unaffiliated added 713,000 voters.  The numbers don’t lie, Republicans lost this battle.  It’s time to recognize that the caucus system was a 20th century solution to organizing a political party and move on.
  • Rename “assemblies” “conventions” so as not to confuse new Colorado voters.  
  • Allow any registered Republican in a jurisdiction (county, state house, state senate, CD, statewide) to vote in a jurisdictional “convention” if they pay a fee.

Fee schedule:

  • County, state house/senate -$35 (paid to the county GOP)
  • CD -$50 (paid to the GOP CD “convention” committee)
  • State – $100 (paid to the State GOP)

This solution imagines a system where the caucus doesn’t exist and any Republican can show up at a convention, have their name verified on the voter file, and pay the registration fee to vote.  This will open the doors of the party to all Republicans who want to vote for candidates and not for delegates to higher conventions (confusing).  In presidential years county assemblies should have the option of holding a presidential straw poll to boost attendance and thus registration revenue for the party. The GOP should invite all qualified active Registered Republicans with a mailed invitation to vote in County/Congressional and State conventions.  

  • Republican candidates will only be “endorsed” at “conventions” with no guarantee of GOP Primary ballot access.  The prize for candidates going through the “convention” process will be to claim “endorsement” by the Republican “convention”.  This will be an asset to some candidates and a liability to others.  
  • To remove the Secretary of State from the process of choosing Republican candidates, eliminate the circulating petition option for Republican candidates access to the Republican Primary ballot.  

These solutions will likely take the State GOP sponsoring a ballot initiative, possibly in a package of “election reform” related measures that could include a requirement to annually clean the voter rolls, regulating ballot harvesting and a requirement for all ballots to be counted on Election Day.

  • Allow any registered Republican residing in a jurisdiction for at least 12 months to gain access to the Republican Primary ballot by paying a fee to the Republican Party. The GOP would collect the fees and certify a list of candidates by a state-imposed deadline.  Funds raised by the GOP will be reserved for General Election candidate support.  Candidates should look at this as an exercise in fundraising early in the campaign.  If a Congressional candidate can’t raise $50,000 to get on the ballot, they likely won’t raise much money throughout the campaign.  

Fee schedule:

  • County candidates – $5,000 (paid to county GOP committees)
  • State House – $10,000 (paid to GOP State House District committees)
  • State Senate – $15,000 (paid to GOP State Senate District committees)
  • CD, CD Regents – $50,000 (paid to GOP Congressional District committees)
  • AG, Treasurer, SOS, At-large Regents – $100,000 (paid to the State GOP)
  • U.S. Senate and Governor – $250,000 (paid to the State GOP)
  • Aggressively encourage Republican and identified conservative voters to return ballots within ten days of receiving their ballots.  In 2022, Colorado voters had ballots in their hands for 22 days.  Democrats and Unaffiliated voters returned their ballots swiftly, while Republicans sat on their ballots until the last possible moment, leaving them only 12 hours on Election Day to return their ballots.  The numbers don’t lie, Republicans need to learn from the Democrats how to chase ballots and do it better than them next time.

Some of the solutions will not be popular with my fellow Republicans but I welcome the discussion.  Please send me your thoughts at [email protected].

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About the Author:

Patrick Davis is a political consultant and strategist living in Colorado Springs. Patrickdavisconsulting.com