LeingT.jpg

Ernest LuningErnest LuningDecember 17, 201512min1080

CENTENNIAL — Colorado Republicans on Saturday elected former congressional candidate George Leing as Republican national committeeman. That’s national committeeman, not woman, an emphasis made clear at a tense and sometimes raucous special meeting of the GOP State Central Committee that saw an unsuccessful attempt by some Republicans to nominate a Denver party officer who happens to be a woman for the post.

Leing, who has previously chaired the Boulder County Republican Party, won on the first ballot over two former vice chairmen of the state GOP, Mark Baisley and Don Ytterberg. He is filling a vacancy created by the resignation of former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, who gave up the national committeeman post after being named executive director of business advocacy group Colorado Concern.

Former congressional candidate George Leing accepts the nomination for Colorado’s Republican national committeeman on Dec. 12 at a special meeting of the GOP State Central Committee at Valley Country Club in Centennial. Leing won the election to fill the term of former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Leing will serve out the remainder of Kopp’s term, which ends on the last day of the Republican National Convention in July. The state party will elect a permanent national committeeman at the April state convention to serve a four-year term starting the day after that.

Leing joins state Republican Party Chairman Steve House and Republican National Committeewoman Lily Nuñez as a member of the Republican National Committee, the governing body for the national GOP. He ran last year against U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, earning the distinction of receiving the most votes nationwide for a losing congressional candidate.

Vowing that he wouldn’t be afraid to “carry conservative principles” to the national party, Leing promised likewise to represent the voices of Colorado Republicans before the Republican National Committee. “It’s about you — this is your voice that’s going to be heard in Washington,” he told the crowd.

“I’m running because I think we need a party that’s open to all,” Leing said, accepting the nomination. “We need a party that’s not constantly changing the rules of conventions. I’m for openness and transparency. I’m going to fight so all our national delegates are seated and able to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

Leing, an attorney whose parents emigrated from China shortly before the communist takeover, said he began to become a “constitutional Republican” when he learned his little sister, who was too young to travel, was trapped in the country and lived under communist rule until she was able to flee.

Republican national committeeman candidate Mark Baisley, a former vice chairman of the state GOP, hams it up while he shows his campaign brochure to former Jefferson County School Board member Julie Williams at a Dec. 12 meeting of the Republican State Central Committee at Valley Country Club in Centennial. Baisley came in second to George Leing, who takes over for Mike Kopp.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

“It tells me I have to be thankful every day for our country, for the Constitution and for the rights we have under it. It also tells me we have to fight for our rights, we have to fight to preserve them everyday,” he said.

After resolving — at least for Saturday’s meeting — a longstanding controversy over who can carry whose proxy votes, Republicans gave Leing 143.87 votes, or 54.5 percent of the total, enough to win outright over Baisley, who had 84 votes, and Ytterberg, who received 36 votes. (Fractional votes reflect that some county GOP offices, usually vice chairs, are split between two or three Republicans.)

But the ballots weren’t cast until after the Republicans settled another dispute, this time over whether Denver County Vice Chair Elaine Brofford could run for the post.

As Leing, Baisley and Ytterberg’s names were being placed into nomination, Huerfano County GOP Secretary Marcy Freeburg, a former legislative candidate, rose to nominate Brofford. “It’s national committeeman,” said House, after doing a double take. “There’s no rule!” Freeburg retorted. “Yes there is,” said House, sounding increasingly weary.

After some consternation and huddling with state party attorney Chris Murray — “Have we repealed the law of common sense?” he later sighed — House declared, “In this particular case, as chair, I rule you cannot nominate a female as national committeeman.”

Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn, state Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, and radio talk show host Randy Corporon listen to speeches as the ballots are counted in an election on Dec. 12 at Valley Country Club in Centennial to fill Colorado’s Republican national committeeman position.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Immediately, hands shot into the air. “Point of order!” at least a few Republicans barked.

“If we adopt a strict interpretation of the bylaws for committeeman and committeewoman, does that mean we have to carry that same strict interpretation every time a ‘chairman’ is referenced?” asked Jefferson County activist George Athanasopoulos. “If we are going with a strict interpretation, we have to apply it uniformly, do we not?”

“A chairman is not a gender-specific term, it is used both for men and women,” House responded. “Wouldn’t that apply to committeeman?” Athanasopoulos shot back. “No, no,” some members of the crowd, sounding annoyed, murmured.

As officials scrambled, flipping through bylaws, Secretary of State Wayne Williams rose and read from the Republican National Committee rules. Then he shook his head and barely smiled. “It doesn’t say committeemen must be male, it doesn’t say committeewomen must be female. That’s what the rules say,” he said with something shy of a smirk. Brofford partisans let out a few subdued cheers.

“If Elaine should win,” said Arapahoe County Republican Lori Horn, “that means we’d have two women, it’s not balanced.”

Noting that the party has had two men and one woman sitting on the RNC for as long as anyone can remember — Colorado Republicans haven’t elected a woman as chairman in at least three decades — a few in the crowd jeered.

State Reps. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, and Justin Everett, R-Littleton, share a moment of levity at a meeting of the Colorado GOP State Central Committee on Dec. 12 in Centennial.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Within minutes, however, a motion to allow Brofford’s name to be placed into nomination failed by an overwhelming voice vote.

“I’d checked on the RNC rules and knew the answer coming in,” a sanguine Brofford said later. “The next time I do something like this, I’ll hire a parliamentarian to come with me. There’s absolutely nothing in the rules that says that.”

The meeting, at Valley Country Club, was held under increased security, GOP officials said, because the state party has been on has been on what was described by some as “heightened alert” in the wake of publicized threats against Republicans in Colorado. (An Arapahoe County sheriff’s deputy was parked outside the building and leaned against a wall for much of the proceedings.)

“It stems from the two incidents in Colorado Springs this week,” House told The Colorado Statesman. “The one lady who suggested that she should get her dead husband’s guns and shoot Republicans, and the other was the comment by the ACLU member.” (The co-chair of the Colorado Springs ACLU resigned last week after comparing Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump with infamous Nazis in a Facebook post, concluding, “If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you before election day.”)

A grim-looking House added, “You have to take every one of those things seriously these days. As political as it may be, as crazy as it may seem, we’re taking it seriously, so our meetings will have notification to local law enforcement ahead of time and we’re going to have a law enforcement agent here. That’s the way we’re going to handle it.”

— ernest@coloradostatesman.com


TateT.jpg

Ernest LuningErnest LuningDecember 17, 201513min67
Former Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call is among at least 10 candidates who could be vying to replace state Rep. Jack Tate after the Centennial lawmaker was appointed to fill a vacancy in the state Senate on Saturday. Tate will take over on Dec. 31 for state Sen. David Balmer, R-Centennial, who is retiring […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


SonnenbergSalazar.jpg

Ramsey ScottRamsey ScottDecember 16, 20159min87
State Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session that would force oil and gas companies to compensate residents for any loss in property value tied to drilling activities, including damage done by earthquakes linked to deep-earth wastewater injection wells. But state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, has vowed to […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


RedistrictsT.jpg

John TomasicJohn TomasicDecember 15, 201515min90
A high-profile bipartisan group of former lawmakers and state officials are reworking and resubmitting a ballot initiative that would transform the process through which voting districts are drawn in Colorado. The news comes after the project was unveiled last month with a splash, drawing approval from newspaper editorial boards but sharp criticism on the left […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


KeyserT.jpg

Ernest LuningErnest LuningDecember 10, 201513min229
As security concerns rise, GOP eyes combat veteran Keyser State Rep. Jon Keyser, R-Evergreen, an attorney and decorated Air Force reservist, is preparing to launch a likely-to-be well-funded campaign in a crowded but mostly lackluster primary field of Republicans hoping to challenge U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, bringing star quality and credibility to an election his […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


CheneyT.jpg

Valerie RichardsonValerie RichardsonDecember 8, 201512min73
Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that the threat of an attack on U.S. soil is greater now than at any time since 9/11 while taking to task President Obama for his past insistence that terrorists are on the run. The Wyoming Republican, speaking at an event sponsored by the Centennial Institute at Colorado […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


JenniferChristiansonVineyardT.jpg

Rich MauroDecember 8, 20158min103
Colorado’s wine industry has really grown in the last 25 years. In 1990, there were only five licensed wineries in the state, four in the Grand Valley. Today there are over 130. It is understandable most of the attention about that growth has been on the winemakers and winery owners. This month, though, I’m focusing […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


ConstructionT.jpg

Ramsey ScottRamsey ScottDecember 4, 201512min98
Supporters of legislation aimed at making it harder for condominium owners to sue developers — backers say it would spur construction amid a statewide affordable-housing crisis — sounded a note of optimism this week amid word that Democratic House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, who blocked legislation earlier this year, is holding talks with groups pushing […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


PlannedParenthoodMiddletonT.jpg

John TomasicJohn TomasicDecember 4, 201514min76
Colorado is still reeling from the shooting attack that killed three and injured nine at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The tragedy has stunned the community and fanned long-smoldering political embers into a firestorm that shows every sign of roaring through next year’s legislative session and through the […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


CoffmanHickenlooper_1.jpg

David O. WilliamsDecember 4, 20155min112
Decision leaves door open for governor to intervene in opposition to attorney general The Colorado Supreme Court on Thursday denied a petition by Gov. John Hickenlooper questioning the legality of Attorney General Cynthia Coffman joining a multi-state lawsuit to block the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. In denying Hickenlooper’s petition by a 5-2 margin, the Supreme […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe