Voting to eliminate the income tax, opposing any new restrictions to the Second Amendment and agreeing to pull U.S. funding for the war in Ukraine — those are just some of the policy proposals the Libertarian Party of Colorado is asking Republican candidates to support as part of a new deal between the parties.
Earlier this year the Colorado GOP and Libertarians entered into a first-of-its-kind collaboration in which the minor party agreed not to enter any political races where the GOP candidate meets their standard for "pro-liberty”. The idea, supporters said, was to create a coalition that can help Republicans win close seats, while giving Libertarians more influence in picking officeholders who can advance their ideals.
“The thing that we're looking forward to more than anything is that we have a say, more of a say, in what Colorado politics looks like and shaping that moving forward,” said Jordan Marinovich, communications director for the Colorado Libertarian party.
To make it clear what it means by "pro-liberty," the party’s board worked with its members over the summer to craft a pledge for federal and state-level Republican candidates.
The pledges were publicly released this week and Marinovich said so far, no one has signed it yet.
For state candidates, the list of policies includes supporting bans on red light and speed cameras, educational freedom, limiting the governor’s powers, expanding open records laws, and supporting "food freedom," to name a few.
On the federal side, candidates must pledge to push aggressively for a peace deal with Russia, and end U.S. funding for aid to Ukraine. They also are asked to audit and reduce all foreign aid spending, abolish the U.S. Department of Education and work toward reducing the scope of U.S. intelligence agencies, with the goal of abolishing them altogether.
The pledges aren’t all-or-nothing, though. Candidates can indicate whether they support each individual position before signing the document. Marinovich said if there are a few items a certain candidate can’t get behind they could leave those blank. He said the goal was to allow for some nuance and future discussions with a candidate.
“If there's a good reason (to oppose something) and it’s convincing enough for our delegation to still withhold a (Libertarian) candidate, that would be up to the board itself.”
Marinovich also said the Libertarian Party’s “Pledge for Liberty” intentionally tried to focus on items they felt any liberty-minded Republican should be able to agree to, and excluded parts of the party platform a typical Republican candidate likely couldn’t support, such as legalizing prostitution.
“A person has a right to sell their body if they so choose, but to ask a Republican to sign onto that was probably a bridge too far,” said Marinovich, who noted that policy position and others like it weren’t even part of the discussion.
Colorado GOP Chair Dave Williams brokered the original deal and has said he thinks it will greatly benefit Republicans by preventing “spoiler candidates” from entering races in 2024.
In 2022, Republicans placed some of the blame for their defeat in Colorado’s 8th Congressional District on the Libertarian candidate in the race. Richard Ward pulled in 9,280 votes, more than five times Democrat Rep. Yadira Caraveo’s margin of victory.
For some Libertarians frustrated after years of electoral disappointments — their 2022 Senate candidate Brian Peotter drew less than 2 percent of the vote — this looks like a way to leverage what power they do have and elect candidates they’re more aligned with.
Marinovich said Republicans, including Williams, didn’t have direct input on the content of the pledges or any editing or veto power.
He said any type of consideration for the GOP was based on a totality of conversations between Williams and Hannah Goodman, the head of the Colorado Libertarian Party, going back to the beginning of the whole process.
Some members of the Republican party have praised the deal and others have been critical, complaining that no outside group should influence who the GOP nominates.
This arrangement is just one of several moves the Republican Party is making as it tries to change its electoral fortunes. The party has also sued the state in an effort to overturn a law allowing unaffiliated voters to participate in Republican primaries.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
You want to know what is really going on these days, especially in Colorado. We can help you keep up. The Lookout is a free, daily email newsletter with news and happenings from all over Colorado. Sign up here and we will see you in the morning!