Newly approved Colorado Center Party aims to court voters disillusioned with the major parties

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
A photographer drops off his ballot at a mobile polling center in downtown Denver on election day. Nov. 8, 2022.

The state officially has a new minor political party — the Colorado Center Party.

The party started organizing last year with the goal of trying to bridge current political divides; its website says it wants to bring civility back to politics and chart a middle path. 

“Democrats in Washington are trying to spend us into oblivion and create a new socialist America. Republicans in Texas and other states are trying to reverse Roe v. Wade and block all abortions,” states the website. 

The Colorado Center Party moved up the ladder from Qualified Political Organization to minor party status by getting more than a thousand voters to affiliate with it by July 1 of this year.

The change means its candidates will no longer need to gather signatures in order to qualify to get on the ballot for specific races; instead, they’ll be nominated at a party convention. It’s a change party members said should help attract more people to run.

“We've hit a critical milestone that will now allow us to more fully participate and give people who want a true, moderate, centrist candidate space on the ballot,” said Center Party member Matt Snider. He tried to qualify for the ballot for the state Senate District 23 race last year but fell short.

Snider said the hurdle of signature gathering is a huge barrier to potential candidates; even after eight weeks of effort he couldn’t gather enough signatures. 

Snider believes it would appeal to a lot of Colorado voters like himself; he spent half of his adult life as a registered Republican and the other half as a registered Democrat. He attended the Center Party’s first nominating convention in 2022 and said he found it appealing. 

“I'm like, finally some reasonable people where we can differ on the issue, on our initial feeling about an issue, but we can sit here and hammer out in a rational way, a middle moderate policy that we each can endorse. There was such a breath of fresh air,” said Snider.

Two other minor parties in Colorado are making similar pitches to voters. The Unity Party of Colorado was founded in 2014 and had 3,878 registered members as of August. The No Labels Colorado Party earned its minor party status early this year and has 2,456 members.

In all, Colorado has seven minor parties.

So far only one Center Party candidate has ever made the Colorado ballot. In 2022 Steve Yurash from Fort Collins ran in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District against incumbent Democrat Joe Neguse. 

“That was very tough,” said Yurash of petitioning onto the ballot. “I got over 700 signatures myself personally. I spent a lot of time at the farmer’s market in Ft. Collins, in Boulder, and I also hired someone after putting out a Craigslist ad.”

Yurash is also the Center Party’s chair. He said he hopes the new designation will help the party attract candidates who want to run for down-ballot races, like the state legislature and city council seats “particularly in districts where one of the two major parties, Republicans or Democrats, are unable or unwilling to put forward one of their own candidates.”

Yurash said he was a registered Republican for a long time but came to feel disillusioned, especially by the party’s stance on issues like reproductive rights. 

“I left the Republican Party in 2019, long before Donald Trump tried to steal the election,” Yurash said. So I just knew that the Republican Party was going in the wrong direction.”

He said he likes that the Center Party takes ideology from both major parties.

“We are firmly anti-crime and support our police to handle crime with civilian oversight, and we support more gun control.” 

Other party positions include granting permanent legal status to those in the DACA program while also increasing security efforts to prevent people from crossing the southern border and immediately deporting those who do. On federal spending, the Center Party supports a balanced budget requirement and an end to earmarks and omnibus spending bills. It also supports implementing ranked-choice voting.