Mar 26, 2021 - Politics

Colorado GOP to decide its future as it elects next chairperson

Kristi Burton Brown and Scott Gessler are running for Colorado GOP chair

Kristi Burton Brown (left) and Scott Gessler (right). Photos: Courtesy of Burton Brown; Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/Getty Images

Colorado Republican activists will meet Saturday to elect a new leader who can take them beyond the era of Donald Trump.

Why it matters: The GOP chair is the face of the party who will sell its message to voters ahead of the midterm elections, when Republicans will try to break the Democratic stronghold in Colorado.

  • In the past decade, Republicans saw their hold on power erode to one statewide position and the party cycled through different leaders in each of the last five election cycles.

The state of play: Five candidates are running for the post — including one who voted for President Biden — but two have emerged as the frontrunners.

  • Kristi Burton Brown, the party's 33-year-old current vice chair, says she can lead a new generation of conservatives.
    • She rose to prominence pushing the failed personhood amendment in 2008.
    • She would be the first woman elected to lead the party since the late 1970s and is endorsed by Rep. Lauren Boebert.
  • Scott Gessler, the 55-year-old former secretary of state, says his experience would allow him to hold Democrats and the media accountable.
    • He is touting his role as an attorney and elections expert working to challenge the 2020 election for Trump's campaign.
    • He believes the party can win voters with conservative solutions to problems.

Between the lines: The party's ranks dwindled under Trump, meaning the GOP will need to convert middle-minded unaffiliated voters to win in 2022.

  • But so far, much of the chair's race is focused on echoing Trump's unsubstantiated claims that fraud cost him the election.

How it works: About 500 members of the party's central governing committee will decide the next chairperson.

  • The election will take place in person and online starting at 9am, but party officials said the media are not allowed to attend the actual event because of COVID-19 capacity concerns.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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