The head of the Colorado Republican Party, Kristi Burton Brown, will not run for a second term this spring, opening the way for a successor to take the party in a different direction after November’s historic electoral losses for the state GOP.
Even before her announcement, several prominent Republicans, primarily from the further right wing of the party, made it clear they are interested in the job, although only one, frequent congressional candidate Caspar Stockham, has officially jumped into the race.
Colorado Republicans suffered significant defeats in the November election. All of their statewide candidates lost by double digits. Next year, their margins in the statehouse will be the smallest in state history.
In late November, hard-right members of the party rallied near the GOP headquarters in Greenwood Village to call for new leadership, with some speakers using profanity to describe Burton Brown and her supporters, according to coverage by 9News.
The leadership of Colorado’s GOP has been a bit of a revolving door in recent years. The last chair to serve more than a single term was Ryan Call, who took the role in 2011 and was defeated by a challenger four years later. Call was later disbarred over allegations he embezzled from a pro-Trump Super PAC.
Burton Brown got her start in Colorado politics in 2008 at age 21 as the surprising sponsor of the "personhood amendment." While the novel approach to banning abortion was rejected by voters, the effort brought her national attention.
When she defeated four other candidates to take the reins of the party less than two years ago, Burton Brown came in promising to focus on winning over unaffiliated voters after several years of electoral disappointment.
“The answer is, we have to brand ourselves and talk about the issues that swing, unaffiliated voters care about,” she told Colorado Matters shortly after taking on the job. “One of the top ones is education. The COVID pandemic has highlighted the importance of education with our children.”
As part of that branding, Burton Brown spearheaded the Colorado GOP’s Commitment to Colorado, a platform that emphasized cost of living and public safety in addition to education. Republican state lawmakers used it to guide their legislative agenda last session and to focus many of their arguments on the campaign trail.
However, that approach failed to win over Colorado’s voters, leaving some in the party to wonder where it can possibly go next.
Next year will usher in new leadership for both of Colorado’s political parties. Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll has also announced that she will step down next year. Carroll has headed the party for the past six years.
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