Halaby Steps Down

Colorado State Republican Party Chairman Ted Halaby has announced he will not seek another term. In an open letter to the state central committee, Halaby decries the new system of campaign finance laws that have diminished the importance the clout and importance of the state party organization:

…it is clear that federal and state campaign-finance laws must be changed to bring the political process back within the traditional auspices of the national and state political parties and their candidates, with the accountability and timely disclosure this provides. I intend to do what I can to assist in this process. However, for now, unfortunately, the most influential battles in Colorado will be waged outside the political party process. Republicans with the means must now be encouraged to have the motivation to step up to the plate and counter what the Democrats so successfully accomplished in outside fund-raising. Therefore, for the next two years I believe I can play a more important role in electing Republicans by working outside the present restrictions imposed on political parties and their leadership.

While Halaby recognizes that the role of the state party has diminished, he admonishes Republicans not to ignore it altogether:

The next election cycle is critical—in two years we will be having statewide races in four major offices, in addition to the state legislative and congressional races, as well as the courthouse and regent races. It is anticipated that there will be several primaries—a good and positive thing, but only if they are waged in a positive manner and the Party unites behind the primary winner. Strong leadership will be required, and State Party can play a very constructive role in assuring that both goals are met in these pivotal races.

In his letter, Halaby also shared some of the blame for Republicans’ electoral defeat. By stepping down, he has responded to the calls within the party for fresh blood. The party needs not only fresh blood but also someone with well-developed political skills, determination, and a clear understanding of why the Republicans lost in 2004 and what needs to be done to ensure victory in 2006.

Clay cited from a recent speech by University of Denver president and unofficial gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman the observation that the state party was practically non-existent during the last election cycle.

So who will step up and take the helm? The AP story mentions Chuck Broerman, the former El Paso County party chairman and current state party vice-chairman. I was at a meeting a couple weeks ago where someone asked former Congressman Bob Schaffer his opinion on who he thought would and should step up and take the chairmanship. He ruled out any personal interest in the post and was very careful about putting forward any names as possible replacements.

Rumors are afloat that coordinated factions are making a push for power at the March 19 State Central Committee meeting. Now that Halaby has stepped aside, the efforts will probably intensify.

Two questions remain:
1. Can the GOP find someone who fits the lofty qualifications for the job?
2. Considering the changing dynamics of political campaigns, how much does it matter?

As always, stay tuned.

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