As pointed out on the Denver Post blog, Colorado’s new majority Republican state house caucus is proceeding with leadership elections tomorrow. At 10 AM, to be precise. Colorado Democrats have protested, saying not all the decisive races have been resolved to their satisfaction. Sure, I appreciate it’s hard to accept being in the minority after the past six years on top. But looking at the situation clearly, it’s extremely difficult to see how any of the close races left will shift in either direction.
Why? Well, for one, Republican challenger Bob Boswell is more likely to surmount his deficit against Greeley Rep. Jim Riesberg than outgoing Democrats Dianne Primavera or Debbie Benefield are to hold on to their seats. (And the deficits of two Adams County GOP challengers — Tom Janich and Brian VanDeKrol — are roughly the same.) In other words, it’s not presumptuous at all for the GOP to proceed in accordance with tradition as the majority party.
Chatting with me by phone this afternoon, presumptive incoming House Speaker Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of Tuesday’s state house races. “I’m pleased,” he said. “We knew that it was going to be tight, that it was going to be tough. We saw margins closing toward the end. The credit really goes to our candidates, who knocked on doors, who spent time away from their families to go to all the townhall events and pancake breakfasts.”
McNulty not only gave credit to the victorious Libby Szabo, Robert Ramirez, Don Beezley, Keith Swerdfeger, Kathleen Conti and Mark Barker, but also to other candidates who made their victories possible. The incoming Republican leader specifically cited Denver’s Danny Stroud (HD 1) and Christine Mastin (HD 3), who came up short but helped to force Democrats to “fall back to their fire line.” I asked if the pair should be considered unsung heroes. McNulty insisted they should be “sung heroes.” Kudos to them and to others who ran vigorous campaigns but came up short.
About the impressive trifecta sweep in the Denver suburbs of Arvada, Westminster, and Broomfield — wresting away House Districts 27, 29 and 33 from the Democrats — McNulty explained: “Clearly, our message on job creation and economic recovery was well received in northwest Jeffco and those northwest suburbs. Those people have been the hardest hit by the Democrats’ tax increases, have been most frustrated by the Democrats spending too much and saving too little. I believe that was one reason we were so successful.”
At this point, tomorrow’s Republican leadership elections look to offer no competition. With a narrow 33-32 majority, unity will prove crucial. Let’s hope the leadership is up to the job. In addition to McNulty as Speaker, Lynn Bartels is correct that Rep. Amy Stephens (R-Monument) is slated to be the new Majority Leader. In addition, I understand (unconfirmed) that Rep. Mark Waller (R-Colorado Springs) and Rep. B.J. Nikkel (R-Loveland) are running for the Assistant Majority Leader and Majority Whip positions.
Rep. Carole Murray currently is running unopposed to fill Rep. Stephens’ role as Caucus Chair. In an email response to me this evening, she said she looks forward “to being a part of creating a Republican House team that works together to ‘right-size’ government and to stop punishing job-creators in our state. We have a very talented new crop of legislators, and, with our new majority status, we can provide some counter-balancing to the progressive policies that have taken hold in an all-Democrat state government.”
All the pro-liberty grassroots groups and other citizens who played a crucial role in helping to elect Colorado’s new Republican House majority now should get ready to suit up to reinforce and hold accountable the GOP caucus and its new leadership team. (But Al Maurer also is right that we all should take a well-deserved break first.)
The new Republican leadership doesn’t have the same luxury. Moving forward, McNulty expressed a desire to move forward with the business of governing. “Priority number one is sitting down with Governor-Elect John Hickenlooper,” he said. Maybe the House Republicans also can help hold Hickenlooper to the fiscally conservative positions he expressed on the campaign trail.