Colorado Republican party officials begin process to try to remove chair Dave Williams

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Colorado Republican Part Chair Dave Williams at the 2024 Republican 4th Congressional District Assembly. April 5, 2024, at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo.

This is a developing story.

After a disastrous election night for party-endorsed candidates, and amid lingering anger over anti-LGBTQ Pride emails, efforts are moving forward to try to oust embattled Colorado GOP chair Dave Williams.

The vice chair of the El Paso County Republican Party submitted a petition Wednesday calling for a special meeting by the party’s central committee to vote on Williams’ removal. To force action, the petition includes the signatures of at least a quarter of central committee members.

Hope Scheppelman, Vice Chair of the party, confirmed that if the Executive Committee finds the petition has enough valid signatures, the removal vote will be put on the agenda for a special meeting on August 31.

Williams has been dogged by criticism since being elected chair in the spring of 2022. He’s tried to move the party to the right, taking the exceptional move of publicly criticizing Republican candidates and office holders. This spring the party broke with its long-standing tradition of neutrality in contested primaries by endorsing candidates who gave the right answers on a party questionnaire.

On Tuesday, voters issued a stinging rebuke to that policy, rejecting 14 out of 16 of the candidates who received the party endorsement. That included Williams himself, who had the party’s backing for his primary run in Congressional District 5. He lost by a two-to-one margin.

On election night, Williams’ Republican opponents were gleeful about his defeat and optimistic he might also be forced out as party chair.

“I think if he has half a brain, he should resign,” said state Senator Larry Liston. “He needs to not only resign, but quite frankly he's a bigot and he should move out of the state of Colorado.”

Liston handily survived a primary challenge from a GOP-endorsed opponent.

CPR reached out to Williams and other members of Colorado Republican Party leadership for comment and did not immediately hear back.

Williams’ opponents stepped up their calls for his removal after social media posts and emails earlier this month attacking Pride Month and calling on people to “burn all the pride flags.”

That effort has divided party members though. After Jefferson County chair Nancy Pallozzi started circulating a petition for Williams’ ouster, other members of the county party voted to censure her and barred her from publicly speaking about the issue.