At Saturday’s Jefferson County Republican Assembly, the person who got the biggest ovation was a self-proclaimed Democrat. A bad sign? Not at all. The Democrat was Rose Moniak, a courageous elderly lady who seconded the nomination of Scott Storey for a second term as District Attorney. The victim of a heinous crime that nearly took her life, Moniak had the highest praise for Storey’s personal diligence and compassion as a prosecutor. Storey was emotionally touched by the introduction, and Moniak was emotionally touched by the warm, prolonged standing ovation from the Assembly crowd.
Moniak was also one of the personal stories from the crowd that U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer addressed from the podium. Schaffer has really honed the campaign skill of listening to individuals, personalizing their stories, and tying them into his larger campaign themes. His presentation was also well-received by the audience.
I went as a delegate for my third biennial County Assembly Saturday and left impressed with the numbers of fresh faces (probably half the crowd) and the energy and enthusiasm of the – albeit largely green – candidates. If we are able to channel the energy of these new candidates and activists, we may rebuild a strong local conservative base and re-establish long-term electoral success. I still have the slimmest of hopes for 2008, but 2010 and beyond are looking brighter for conservative Republican prospects than they have in a long time.
Due to a combination of strategic re-districting, millions of dollars in funds from the state’s liberal billionaire community, tactical campaigning, and revitalized activism, Democrats have taken charge of state government in no small part by taking over the once Republican suburban stronghold of Jefferson County. But today I believe we may finally have the beginnings of a comeback – with the key element of a re-energized base showing itself strong on Saturday. The party that had lost its way in power (both at the state and national level) just might be returning to first principles.
Except for incumbents in House Districts 22 (Rep. Ken Summers – who led the crowd in an energetic chant of the biblical injunction “Is there not a cause?”) and 28 (Rep. Jim Kerr), this year’s slate of Jeffco GOP candidates for state legislative offices is almost exclusively those of first-timers. Michael at Best Destiny has highlighted this aspect of the Jeffco GOP Assembly pretty well. I don’t think he stayed long enough to learn the good news that every one of the legislative races in Jefferson County has been filled with a candidate.
Like Michael, I am especially excited by the prospects of John Bodnar in my home base of House District 27, who has a chance to redeem Bill Crane’s razor-thin defeat to liberal Democrat Sara Gagliardi in 2006. Libby Szabo in Senate District 19 also pumped up the crowd in her quest to fill the open seat abandoned by teachers union pet Sue Windels against another teachers union pet Evie Hudak.
The big attention of the day was on the four-way primary for the 6th Congressional District to replace outgoing Rep. Tom Tancredo. The campaigns of Wil Armstrong, Mike Coffman, Ted Harvey, and Steve Ward were all well represented – especially Armstrong and Coffman. A sizable portion (but less than half of) Jefferson County is in the 6th, but you wouldn’t know that by the sheer volume of literature and signs and handshakes. There was more than enough to go around, and residents of the 7th like myself were left wishing there were a minuscule fraction of this interest in our race. But then again, the winner of the 6th primary is a shoo-in to Congress, while 2008 appears to mean putting up a Republican sacrificial lamb in the 7th.
All in all, this year’s Jeffco GOP Assembly was the most positive and uplifting I’ve seen. And kudos goes to chairman Renee Nelson and her team of fellow officers and volunteers, who ran a mostly smooth and efficient program, minimizing the inevitable chaos. Though I know calls will be coming forth next time for a venue with more accessible parking! (Resolutions of county platform resolution balloting are supposed to be posted on the County Party website by Wednesday.)