The Colorado GOP is setting up a commission to review how the party handled a dispute over which candidates should be included on the primary ballot for a state senate district in Colorado Springs.
Rep. Ken Buck, the state party chair, faced criticism after two leadership committees decided to place a candidate on the primary ballot even though he failed to get enough support at his district assembly. The local official who would have had to carry out that order balked when Buck told him about it. And in a subsequent lawsuit, a Denver judge ruled the GOP couldn’t bend the law, even though the party felt the underlying virtual assembly process was flawed.
Buck said he consulted with the local official, Eli Bremer, on the make-up of the commission and would announce members soon.
In the press release announcing the commission, Bremer is quoted:
“Chairman Buck faithfully worked to carry out the decision made by the Republican Party Central Committee, which itself tried to resolve our Senate nomination controversy. I think most people agree that we need to think about how we approach these issues in the future.”
The commission is expected to make recommendations on how to avoid similar situations in the future, and may also suggest changes the party could push for in the primary selection process.
“The Republican Party cares deeply about voter security and ensuring fair elections,” Buck said in a statement.
However, the candidate who won the District 10 assembly believes the commission is unnecessary. Republican Rep. Larry Liston said he spent $20,000 on legal fees during the lawsuit and thinks the state party wasted money too on an unnecessary legal fight.
“If Ken Buck is an officer of the court, he should know better,” Liston said, referring to Buck’s past job as Weld County District Attorney. “If he and the executive committee had followed the law we wouldn’t be in this mess. The law is the law.”
Dick Wadhams, a political consultant and former GOP state party chair, does see a value for the party in discussing what happened with the District 10 senate race and what should be done in the future.
“But having said that, this controversy should never have occurred to begin with. It is a horribly dangerous precedent to have any state chairman, with the consultation of the state party, to just decide to put somebody on the ballot, coronavirus pandemic or not,” Wadhams said. “If a candidate thinks he or she has been illegally kept off the ballot then go to court. It just wasn’t right for the chairman and committee to be involved at all.”