Colorado Republicans have expressed optimism toward flipping legislative and statewide seats in the 2022 midterm election, and Saturday selected the leadership to guide them there.
Kristi Burton Brown was selected as the chair of the Colorado Republican Party, among a field of five candidates that included former congressional candidates and state office holders. U.S. Rep. Ken Buck previously served as the party’s chair, announcing his decision late last year not to seek another term.
She will be joined by Priscilla Rahn as vice-chairman, a position previously held by Burton Brown, and by Marilyn Harris, a first-ballot selection as secretary in a field of four candidates.
Morgan County Republicans, hosting candidates on the eve of the party elections Friday, were told by Burton Brown that she would offer a “fighter in the state chair’s office” and announced support she had received from another fighter for Colorado conservatives – U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert.
She committed to serving in a full-time capacity, adding that she would visit “every one of the 64 counties in Colorado.”
Burton Brown has already made strides in that area in Morgan County, where she also attended the Lincoln Day Dinner in February.
“I’m not going to come in with a program to force upon you,” Burton Brown said. “You understand your county and the people who call your county home. Tell us how we can serve you.”
She told Morgan County Republicans it is not an approach they have always received from the state party.
Prior to her pitch to electors in Saturday’s election, Burton Brown pledged to work with rural counties like Morgan to help drive out conservative voters and flip seats from blue to red. Currently, the Colorado Senate includes 20 Democrats and 15 Republicans, and some have theorized it is entirely possible to flip at least three of those seats in a Republican effort to take a majority in the Senate and restrict Democrats and Gov. Jared Polis.
“Rural Colorado must matter to the Republican Party,” she said.
Casper Stockham, who ultimately finished third after throwing his support behind Burton Brown, proposed several approaches to lead the Republican Party forward during his address in Morgan County.
“I don’t believe the party knows who their customers are,” he said.
He supported a “1776 Plan” he suggested would give county parties the support they need to operate. He suggested a donation of $17.76 by each member to local organizations. He also supported the expansion of voting systems to three options, encouraging a goal to select 250 candidates for office through an America First Republican caucus, and outreach whenever and wherever possible.
“I’m excited to congratulate new Colorado GOP Chairman Kristi Burton Brown, Vice Chair Priscilla Rahn, and Secretary Marilyn Harris,” Buck said in a statement to Colorado Republicans. “I know that the Colorado GOP is in good hands as we move to retake our state in 2022 and provide Colorado with leaders who will step up and fight for our state.”
Together, Buck added, the trio comprise the first all-female leadership of the Colorado GOP and said he was confident “they will be successful at driving our Party to many wins and successes over the next two years.”
Among his proposals, Gessler supported rebuilding the Republican Party “from the ground up”, in his presentation Friday to Morgan County Republicans.
“It is the job of the state party to get candidates elected,” Gessler said. “I don’t think they’ve been doing it.”
Colorado is still a center-right state, Gessler said.
“I think the Republican Party is one of the greatest organizations for good in the history of the world,” he said.
He won the support of party electors in the first round by 1 percent, and lost the second round by less than 2 percent before drawing 40.6 percent support in the third round of voting that selected Burton Brown as the new party chair.
Burton Brown holds a juris doctorate law degree, focusing on constitutional law. Burton Brown described herself on her campaign page as a “unifier and a collaborator” and pledged to remove top-down leadership of the party and instead strategize with those in all areas of the state.