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Some El Paso County Republicans up in arms over proposal to replace county chair tonight

Author: Ernest Luning - September 18, 2017 - Updated: September 18, 2017

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El Paso County GOP Chair Trevor Dierdorff (Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette)

Some members of the El Paso County Republican Party’s executive committee are crying foul over a proposal to name a new county chair at a meeting tonight rather than throw the selection to the much larger central committee at a later date.

County GOP chairman Trevor Dierdorff, who was elected to the post this spring, announced weeks ago he would step down at the end of tonight’s scheduled meeting of the party’s executive committee — several dozen party officers, elected officials and Republicans elected to the panel. He supports a complicated plan to allow the executive committee to pick his replacement.

Under the proposal, the party’s vice chairman, Joshua Hosler — who has made clear he doesn’t want to ascend to chairman —  would resign his position if two-thirds of the committee agrees on a candidate to replace him during the meeting. Then, according to a draft resolution circulated by party spokesman Eli Bremer, a former chairman of the county party, Hosler would vacate his vice-chair post, the consensus candidate would be named vice chair, Dierdorff’s resignation would take effect, then the meeting could reconvene and the new vice chair would be elevated to the vacant chair position, and then the executive committee could recommend the new chair reappoint Hosler as vice chair.

At press time, four Republicans had tossed their hats in the ring to take Dierdorff’s place — Karl Schneider, Charlie Ehler, Robert Blanken and Sheryl Glasgow.

Dierdorff said he’s backing the procedure if a consensus chair candidate emerges because it will save the expense and hassle of convening a central committee meeting.

“We’re looking to have that exit be as unimpactful and positive as it can be,” Dierdorff told Colorado Politics. “We are expeditiously giving the executive committee the ability to avoid the cost and lost time of having a central committee meeting.” He added that he’ll happily support whatever the executive committee decides.

But not everyone on the executive committee agrees it’s a good idea.

“Under the bylaws, a chairman should be selected by the central committee. What they’re doing instead is a procedural maneuver to have a quiet election among the bonus members and executive committee without any vote by the full central committee,” former state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt told Colorado Politics.

“The lawyer for the party has supposedly said this is legal, but my question is, is it really ethical? Should you discount the members of the central committee, when I think the spirit of the bylaws require they would be invited to vote? And they have not been invited to vote.”

Klingenschmitt said he plans to support the entire central committee choosing the next county party chair.

“If that’s not what happens tonight, the results, whoever is elected chairman, will be suspect and will cause bad feelings among many of my conservative friends,” he warned.

Kathryn Porter, who also sits on the executive committee, had similar criticism of the proposal.

“This is the executive committee taking on the role of power brokers and cherry-picking what they’re calling a consensus candidate to circumvent the central committee,” she told Colorado Politics.

“There may be a technical maneuver so they can do this legally, but it’s not within the spirit of the bylaws,” she added. “It needs to go to the central committee.”

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.