COLORADO, USA — Colorado's Republican Party picked a new leader over the weekend, but the bigger news might be the Republicans leaving the party.
Former state lawmaker Dave Williams is the new state GOP chair. He's the one who wanted to use a crude nickname on the ballot when he unsuccessfully ran for Congress.
He still believes Donald Trump won the 2020 election. And after Williams won, prominent Republicans in the state revealed they were no longer going to be Republicans.
Though, that is a decision that may impact them more than the party.
“We are the party that elected Donald J. Trump, and we are not going to apologize for that anymore,” said new GOP party chair Dave Williams on Saturday.
That is the reason that KOA radio host Mandy Connell changed her party affiliation from Republican to unaffiliated.
“As much as I hold conservative ideals and values in many, many ways. I will not be a part of the cult of Trump anymore,” Connell said on her radio show on Monday. “I don’t want people to say, ‘Why is your party doing this?’ I don’t want people to look at me and say, ‘What is wrong with your party?’ It’s not my party. It’s the party of Donald Trump in Colorado. And I don’t know if you realize this, Donald Trump is not popular in Colorado.”
In 2020, President Biden beat Trump in Colorado by almost 14%.
Connell is one of 133 Republicans that changed their voter affiliation since Saturday. The majority switched to unaffiliated.
Over the same three-day period last week, 50 Republicans changed from Republican to another party or unaffiliated. The difference is 166% more over the last three days.
On the other side of the aisle, 31 Democrats left the party this weekend compared to 60 over the week before.
“To say I’m a proud Republican, I can’t say it, and I said it for many, many, many years,” said the former Republican University of Colorado Regent Sue Sharkey. “If I can’t be proud of something I’m associated with, I should not be associated with it.”
Sharkey changed her voter affiliation prior to this past weekend.
“My conservative principles remain the same. I will stand behind my principles all day long, but I will not stand behind a party I no longer believe in,” Sharkey said.
- Unaffiliated voters make up 46% of all voters in Colorado (1,761,728 as of March 1)
- Democratic voters make up 28% of all voters (1,055,164 as of March 1)
- Republican voters make up 24% of all voters (932,1217 as of March 1)
Since 2018, unaffiliated voters have been allowed to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries. Just one, not both. Williams plans to fight that law.
“We must work to close the primaries so that only Republicans choose our Republican nominees,” Williams said on Saturday.
For the Republicans leaving the Republican Party, they may be giving up their chance to pick Republican nominees.
I’m imagining that there will be people on a Republican primary ballot that I’m going to want to support,” Sharkey said.
As of now, she would still be able to as an unaffiliated voter.
“I hope that in some way, whatever role or voice that I do have, that there are ears that will hear it,” Sharkey said.
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