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Neville shocker: Hardline state senator kept off ballot by Darryl Glenn and his fiery speech

Author: Jennifer Kerns - April 9, 2016 - Updated: May 26, 2016

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State Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, delivers his speech at the state Republican Party delegate assembly on Saturday. His granddaughter strikes a pose. (Jennifer Kerns/The Colorado Statesman)
State Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, delivers his speech at the state Republican Party delegate assembly on Saturday. His granddaughter strikes a pose. (Jennifer Kerns/The Colorado Statesman)

In a surprise eleventh-hour upset, State Senator Tim Neville — until today considered a GOP frontrunner in the Colorado U.S. Senate race — was knocked out of the running by El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, an underdog candidate who gave an impassioned twelve-minute speech on the floor of the state Republican Party convention that fired enthusiasm and garnered him windfall delegate support.

In the wake of the Senate-race speeches at the World Arena, party staffers recessed for nearly two hours to count ballots, and word spread that a close ballot contest might be in the offing.

But in the end, it wasn’t even close.

Of the seven candidates seeking votes at the assembly, Glenn came in at the top of the heap with 2,664 (70 percent of the vote). Neville, a Littleton Republican, came in a distant second with 696 votes (18 percent). Candidates needed to notch 30 percent votes to make the June primary ballot.

The news shocked Neville’s family— three generations — who gathered at his side after the tallies were announced. His son Joe has served as a political consultant for many years. His son Patrick is a state representative from Castle Rock.

“We’re surprised, but the people spoke,” the stunned candidate told The Colorado Statesman just moments after the results were announced.

The upset seemed like another anti-establishment shock delivered by primary voters — even though the Nevilles in some ways are as anti-establishment as they come.

The Nevilles are connected to Dudley Brown, the outspoken founder of “no compromise” firearms group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. Brown is a controversial figure in Colorado politics, and RMGO has been a thorn in the side of the Republican Party establishment for years, pushing it to the right by energizing its activist following on legislative issues and by spending money in swing district primary election races.

“It’s a strange year, as I think we are about as anti-establishment as it gets,” said Rep. Patrick Neville.

Sen. Neville has taken on tough legislation at the statehouse. He has been a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and high-capacity magazines. Making the case for wide gun rights in the wake of the Aurora Theatre shooting and referencing the fact that his son Patrick was a student at Columbine High School on the day of the 1999 massacre.

The defeat is a huge blow to Neville personally and to the image of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners as a power broker in the state.

Neville supporters on April 9 at the Colorado GOP assembly make a statement in Broncos orange. (Photo by Jennifer Kerns/The Colorado Statesman)
Neville supporters on April 9 at the Colorado GOP assembly make a statement in Broncos orange. (Photo by Jennifer Kerns/The Colorado Statesman)

Glenn was by far a better orator Saturday than any of his rivals. But he also enjoyed home field advantage. He lives in Colorado Springs where the assembly was staged. Last week, The Colorado Springs Gazette published an editorial attacking Neville as an extreme candidate who couldn’t win in the general election. Neville responded by shooting a copy of the editorial full of holes with a semi-automatic rifle and tweeting about it.

It’s also possible that increased Republican primary season turnout made a difference. Turnout nationally for the GOP has been up 20 percent.

“This year, you’ve got so many first-time caucus goers, that really made a difference,” said Rep. Patrick Neville. “But it was a clear victory. Good job to Darryl Glenn.”

In his swaggering floor speech, Glenn called for an end to sanctuary cities, attacked the “Black Lives Matter” movement and said that entitlements are “enslaving Americans.” The African-American candidate then paused and said, “I’m not a fan of slavery, ladies and gentlemen.”

Glenn also lit up Hillary Clinton. The crowd roared when he said he was personally committed to ensuring that Clinton was stripped of her pantsuit and put into an orange jumpsuit.

He received a standing ovation — not something often seen in GOP politics.

Glenn is a retired U.S. Air Force captain and small business owner who has twice held elected office as a Colorado Springs city council member and twice as a county commissioner.

“Darryl gave a great speech, and he put together a great convention,” said Joe Neville. “I’m proud of our team, we put it all on the field. At the end of the day, you can only hope that the most conservative candidate is put forth to run against (Democratic U.S. Senator) Michael Bennet.”

Joe Neville said it was too early to make a decision on an endorsement of Glenn, simply saying, “It was an honor to run.”

Sen. Tim Neville has plans, too, after the loss. “We’ll go back to doing what we do best: We defend liberty,” he said, winking.

Jennifer Kerns

Jennifer Kerns

Jennifer Kerns is an executive editor at The Colorado Statesman. She is an accomplished conservative political writer and contributor to several national publications including The Blaze, The Washington Times, and The Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal. She also served as the communications director and spokeswoman for the 2013 Colorado recall elections to defend Coloradans' Second Amendment rights.