THE BLOG

Colorado Tea Party is now "part of the Republican establlishment"

04/11/2014 02:43 pm ET | Updated Jun 11, 2014
  • Jason Salzman Former media critic at the Rocky Mountain News; Blogger, www.bigmedia.org.

Republicans will meet this weekend to pick candidates for their June primary election, and the most important storyline for reporters to track at the convention is, simply, how are Colorado Republicans getting along with each other these days?

To hear former state GOP Chair Dick Wadhams tell it, historic divisions between the Tea Party and establishment wings of the party are now over because the Tea Party is now "part of the Republican establishment:"

Wadhams: All those new activists that brought so much vitality to our party since 2010, this is now their third election cycle of being involved. They're part of the Republican establishment now! [Laughs] After they've been involved three times, they've been elected country chairs. They've been elected party precinct committee people. They've been involved in the party. The fact is, they are playing as big a role in the party as the establishment is. Where the breakdown occurs, Dan, is when we nominate candidates who can't win a general election. [BigMedia emphasis.]

...I do think there was a misperception when the Tea Party first became such a force in 2010, that there was a process that basically shut them out of nominating candidates, that there was some kind of small power group that determined who the candidates were going to be. Nothing is further from the truth.

The nominating process of the Republican Party is as open and fair as you can think, because the people who show up at precinct caucuses and the people who show up and vote at the Republican primary, are the people who nominate candidates, not a handful of people sitting in a back room. In fact, we did some things when I was state chairman to empower that grassroots movement.

That's what Wadhams told KNUS yapper Dan Caplis April 3, without addressing, among other GOP-establishment power plays, the epic backroom deal that cleaned the Republican senatorial primary field for Cory Gardner.

Wadhams also said, if there's any animosity within the Republican party--over divisions about the 2005 Referendum C tax increase, for example--Tea Party activists should just get over it:

Wadhams: If Republicans are still talking about that, they need to get over it. First of all, that's also an attack on former Governor Owens. Fine, disagree with Governor Owens and his administration on Referendum C. But give the guy credit. He's the only guy to win the governorship in 40 years. So he had something special that a whole bunch of other candidates didn't have.

This weekend's state Republican convention will illuminate whether Wadhams is right about oneness within the state GOP, and, whether he's right or wrong, this will likely be the biggest story that emerges from the convention.

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