Colorado GOP Convention Notes

To All Concerned Eagle County Republicans,

If you're alive and breathing, you've undoubtedly heard about the hullabaloo surrounding the Colorado Convention which took place in Colorado Springs last weekend.
 
I have heard from many of you and have responded to everyone that contacted either me directly or the Eagle County info email. But I'm sure that for everyone who contacted us, there are many more that haven't and for that reason I will try to address as many issues and concerns as I can in this newsletter. This will be long, so grab a coffee and settle in because this may be more information than you signed up for.  You may quit reading whenever you've had enough. But if you run out of interest, at least scroll to the bottom because I have scheduled a meeting to answer anything not covered here.
 
The reality is that I don't know where to start so instead of starting with the details, I'll start with a general statement and summation and then fill in the gaps. But to set the record straight, since day1 I have been a Kasich only supporter. I have had no second choice, no third. So the Trump/Cruz battle has never been mine. I can't tolerate either one for different reasons but will vote for whoever the Republican candidate might be, albeit, probably holding my nose. As for last Sat., I voted for the 13 delegates on the Kasich slate plus 4 un-pledged that I know very well. I only voted for 17 delegates, not the 26 I was entitled to.
 
Now back to the topic at hand. I have been attending Republican conventions at various levels for a long time. The caucus is the beginning of the process which is followed by the county and state assemblies and the final culmination, the RNC convention. I have attended them all at one time or another and many of them multiple times.  All I can say about this one is that it was, for all practical purposes, no different than any others. But I think one thing that confused a lot of people was the decision not to hold a straw poll.  While I voted against that decision, I understood why some had another opinion but what is important to remember and really key here is that even in the years when we did vote, the results were non- binding to our delegates once they were elected. So you might ask why. I don't really know the answer to that but I can at least provide the history.
 
Rules governing how this process works go back to 1916 when the caucus system was established in Colorado. Of course at that time, the state was smaller and people enjoyed he prospect of gathering locally with their neighbors to influence the electoral process. They elected delegates to county and state the same way we do today and also required those delegates to be un- bound. So nothing new there.
 
Once at the state convention, delegates were free to represent their constituents in whatever way they saw fit- again, same as today- and vote for whatever presidential candidate they chose. Binding was possible only if the delegate had indicated who they intended to support prior to getting elected as a delegate. For example, when I was a delegate to Tampa, I ran as a Romney delegate and once elected, I was bound on the first ballot to vote for Romney. At no time from 1916 until the 1992 election did that system change. So, you do the math. For 86 years the process remained unchanged.
 
In 1990, a ballot question was put before the voters which proposed moving to a primary state.  By an overwhelming majority of more than 60% it was passed and for the elections in 1992, 1996 and 2000 Colorado became a primary state with bound delegates. For those 3 elections, a presidential only primary was held in March.
 
After the 2000 election, because of budget issues, the state legislature decided that the cost of running primary elections was too high (best I could find is that the 2000 primary cost the state $2.5 mil). As a result they voted to return us to the caucus system. And because the 1990 ballot question was not a constitutional amendment, they could do it by their vote without going back to a public vote. At that point, Colorado returned to the system that had previously been in place for 86 years and has been in place ever since. So again, you can do the math. Add another 16 years and the caucus system has been the method used in Colorado for 102 years with only one small 8 year interlude.
 
So why all the fuss this year? I have to say that I have honestly been stunned by the outcry which by the way has been fueled by the media who has reported mis-information over and over. And I'll repeat the 2 issues that have been misunderstood by most voters and which I personally think have caused the most frustration.
  1. Even though there was no straw poll this year- and I'll address why later, the reality is that only in the 3 years when we had presidential primaries did your vote count or bind our delegates. For 102 years that was not the case.
  2. The RNC, the Colorado Republican Party, and the Eagle County Republicans have no control over returning Colorado to a primary state. Only the state legislature can do that. And they still claim that it's too expensive. I have heard estimates of $5mil to conduct a primary today.
 
While I'm sure there are a plethora of issues burning with many of you, I hope once you understand those 2 things, your frustration can at least be channeled in the right direction. Blame history. Blame our state legislators. Blame the press. But don't blame the RNC. Don't blame the Republican Party. And for all of our sakes, don't abandon the party because of these things. Now is the time when it is more important than ever to pull together in November.
 
So now, for those of you have not participated in the process, I'm going to take a minute to run some numbers by you.
 
The process started at the caucus. Of the 8240 registered Republicans in Eagle County who were eligible to attend, only 280 did so. At the caucus, we elected 120 to act as delegates and alternates to the County Assembly. At the County Assembly, we elected 29 delegates to state. Keep in mind, for every delegate slot, we can also elect an equal number of alternates if we have them.
 
At each step of the way, I cautioned that you should only cast a vote for someone if you knew their positions; if you knew how they intended to vote and who they intended to support if they moved on to the next level. It seems that most times the decision is based on the fact that you can't go but your neighbor can. But crucial to the vote is how that person intends to represent you because that essentially is your vote in your absence. It has always been my philosophy that I personally would not support someone who is unwilling to verbalized their intentions before I voted them.
 
So we moved on to the state. By 5:00pm Friday, all Congressional Districts were required to elect 3 delegates- and again, 3 alternates. CDs 1, 6, 7 had their assemblies earlier in the week to avoid some of the chaos and that is why you heard during the week that Cruz had tied up delegates before the convention[1] .  This is the same across the Country. Every Congressional District in the United States elects 3 delegates so go to the national convention and CDs 2, 3, 4, 5 did so on Friday.
 
3948 delegates and 1700 alternates attended the state convention on Saturday as well as many guests. Normal business was conducted and then ballots were distributed for those who put their names in nomination for the national convention in Cleveland. Over 600(I think it was 649) people were on the ballot. They each got 10 sec to speak. Smart ones contacted delegates before the convention. Each delegates' name was in a booklet with a corresponding number and an indication as to who they would be supporting if elected. Then a computer generated ballot with corresponding numbers was distributed to each voting delegate by each county chair so there was absolute control over the ballots issued by the Colorado Republican Committee.  13 delegates and 13 alternates were elected in is manner. I had to sign as county chair in order to receive ballots for Eagle County. The ballots were then submitted and counted electronically.
 
So to recap....
  • 280 Eagle County Republicans attended the caucus.
  • They elected 120 to the county assembly.
  • Those delegates elected 29 to represent them at the state.
  • And 3860 statewide delegates voted for 13 to go on to national convention.
  • Apparently 88 did not vote.
  • Another 21 were elected earlier at their respective CDs.
  • The 3 elected officials of the Colorado GOP were automatic delegates and they remain un-bound.
  • 13+21+3=37 delegates from Colorado will be going to Cleveland along with a corresponding number of alternates.
 
So did Colorado take a vote?
Sure seemed like it to me.
Did all the candidates know the rules of the system we have used for 102 years?
If they could read they did. All candidates were given complete summaries of each state's process on Oct.1, 2015. They had plenty of time to prepare and "work" the system. But not all did. And they were the ones that lost.
 
So where do we go from here?
Cleveland
In addition to all of those elected by their state parties, there are 168 additional votes. 3 of those are our 3 state party officials who are un-bound. As there are 50 states and each gets 3, that means 150 state party elected officials will have a vote plus 18 votes from various territories for a total of 168. A far cry from the Democrats 712 super delegates who were put in place very specifically to control their nominations.
 
Once the nominations start, it will require not a plurality but a majority vote to clinch the nomination. Again, a process that has been in place at the national convention forever. As the total number of delegates going to Cleveland will be 2472, a candidate must receive 1237 to receive the nomination. Half plus 1.Period. Pretty straight forward. Rules will not be changed to accommodate sore losers. And to keep things in perspective, at the 1924 Democratic convention it took 103 ballots to elect John W. Davis who went on to be defeated by Calvin Coolidge.
 
Two questions remain.
  1. Why was the straw vote cancelled?
  2. Why did Cruz run away with the convention?
 
I have answers to the first and opinions about the second. Quite frankly, any further response requires more typing than I'm capable of. So here's what you can do to get more info.
 
I've reserved the Avon Town Council Chambers for Thursday, April 21 at 6:00pm.
I would have scheduled it sooner but I had to leave town on family business and will get back that afternoon.
 
Please join me as well as the rest of the Executive Committee.  I'll be the one in the rain gear.  Bring your rotten tomatoes and feel free to throw them if it makes you feel better.  I don't know how the Town of Avon will feel about that but we'll deal with that later.
 
We want to listen to your concerns.
We want to answer your questions.
We want to neutralize the problem.
We want to make sure we're on the same team.
We want to encourage you to remain involved with the Republican Party.
We want to win in November.
 
Congratulations if you made it this far. That means you care enough to become informed.

 

That means we're on the right track. That means there's hope.
 
See you on the 21st.
 
Kaye Ferry, chair
Eagle County Republicans
kaye@kayeferry.com
(970) 376-5100
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