Kent Thiry applauds Colorado GOP’s decision to leave primary open to unaffiliated voters

Author: Ernest Luning - September 26, 2017 - Updated: September 26, 2017

DaVita Inc. President and CEO Kent Thiry (Photo courtesy Thiry via Twitter)DaVita Inc. President and CEO Kent Thiry (Photo courtesy Thiry via Twitter)

The chief backer of a ballot measure to allow unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in Colorado primaries cheered Saturday’s decision by state Republicans to go ahead with next year’s primary under the new rules rather than cancel the election.

“The vote by the Republican Party’s leadership is a great win for Colorado’s governance, the Colorado GOP, and the over one million independent voters of this state,” said Kent Thiry, CEO of Denver-based kidney dialysis giant DaVita Inc., in a statement. “And now, a robust competition for the hearts, minds and votes of independent Coloradans can and will begin in earnest.”

The Colorado GOP voted down a proposal to scrap the 2018 primary and instead nominate candidates to the fall ballot at party assemblies, with opponents arguing the move would deliver the wrong message to the one-third of state voters who aren’t affiliated with a political party. Supporters called the measure an unconstitutional encroachment on Republicans’ freedom to choose their candidates but came up short in a vote of the party’s state central committee.

State Democrats didn’t consider abandoning their primary.

Thiry, who bankrolled last year’s Proposition 108 — along with a companion measure to establish presidential primaries in Colorado — changed his registration from unaffiliated to Republican earlier this year in advance of a potential run for governor but said in July he had decided to support centrist candidates rather than jump in the race himself.

“I remain passionately committed to advocating for bipartisan solutions to our challenges, as I would have done as governor,” Thiry said at the time, adding that he and his wife “plan to eagerly support centrist candidates, common sense causes and other efforts that promote collaborative governance, and the ideal that principled compromise in the name of progress is vastly different from compromising your principles.”

According to rules adopted earlier this month by the Colorado secretary of state, unaffiliated voters will receive both a Democratic and a Republican primary ballot in the mail ahead of the June 26 election with the option of voting one of them. Both parties are facing crowded primaries for governor — the incumbent, Democrat John Hickenlooper, is term-limited after next year’s election — and other state, congressional and local offices.

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.