Written by Monica Morrill
Much has been said on the fate and future of the Republican Party since the devastating loss to Barack Obama in November 2012. Friends and foes, pundits and pontificators across the nation advise soul searching, tent broadening and various forms self- mutilation by the cutting off of non-progressive limbs. But what is the real answer to the GOP woes?
A detailed examination of the upcoming GOP election in Colorado may hold the key. At first glance, this election might seem insignificant to Republicans across the nation. Unless you are a very active member of the Republican Party in the Rocky Mountain State of Colorado, chances are Americans don’t even know about it. But we need to know, this is a critical election and the outcome will, indeed, set the tone for the GOP in 2014. So critical is this election, that the RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus is taking a personal interest in supporting the incumbent.
So why does this election demand such attention?
Because the diseased and conflicted GOP is not suffering from mere cases of tiny tent and appendage atrophy, rather, the once Grand Old Party is suffering from a deathly plague against its principles. Nowhere more obvious is that of the case than in Colorado. The race is for the election of the Colorado Republican State Party Chairman. The two candidates are Mark Baisley, the former Republican Party Chairman of Douglas County in Colorado and the incumbent, Chairman Ryan Call. Mark Baisley is a businessman. Ryan Call, by profession, is a lawyer.
A quick examination at Mr. Baisley's record will show that he is well educated, has impressive professional experience in the aerospace industry and boasts a long list of community service and political activities. Baisley’s conservative views are on display in his weekly political column with Town Hall Magazine online. But his winning political record and management style are the key qualifications Baisley brings to this race. As Baisley states,
“For the past three years as Chairman of the Douglas County Republicans, I have applied these management principles. What was once a very divided local party has come together to lead a volunteer database of 3,000 citizens who turned out a record 97.3% of active, registered Republicans. We have kept Mike Coffman in place as our Congressman and replaced the formerly liberal school board with conservative Republicans. As of July 1, 2012, Douglas County Schools no longer has a teachers union.”
That’s it. Mark Baisley has a proven winning record and even assisted in ousting a union, depriving the Democrats $850,000 in teacher’s dues, in a large county for Colorado. The courts held up the decision granting Douglas County its School Choice in a ruling just yesterday, February 28, 2013. Baisley also brings a solid plan to implement his winning strategy statewide.
On the other hand, Ryan Call has served the Colorado GOP for many years as legal counsel to the State Party. In 2011, Call replaced the well-known Dick Wadhams as Chairman. But Call’s record as State Party Chairman is a stark contrast to Baisley. Call began his tenure in the throes of the GOP Primary spanning most of 2011 and the first few months of 2012. As State Party Chairman, Call proceeded to make several drastic and somewhat inexplicable rule changes to the Colorado Primary process, including moving up the Caucus and Assembly dates, requesting Colorado delegates to declare and thereby bind their vote to a particular candidate and imposed increased fees to both delegates and candidates. At first, the only seeming jolt in this flurry of change was to the wallets and calendars of the delegates and the not yet narrowed field of Republican Primary candidates.
Months later, after the RNC Convention in August 2012, the picture became a little clearer as to Ryan Call’s possible motives in changing the processes and rules in Colorado. As was evident by the scuffle over delegate loyalties and rule changes that erupted at the RNC Convention last summer, it can be surmised that Ryan Call had been working behind the scenes with the powers that be in the GOP Establishment to set up Colorado in a way that the RNC could be assured of RNC loyalty and Romney votes. Further evidence can be gleaned from Mr. Call’s posted Facebook arguments over the RNC Convention with disenfranchised Colorado party activist wherein Call adamantly defended the actions of the RNC Officials denying any impropriety and not even acknowledging that the votes taken at the RNC were clearly not unanimous.
Although these descriptions of both candidates sets the backdrop for this Saturday’s election between Baisley and Call, the only true measuring stick for qualification is how things turned out in 2012 for Colorado. For former Douglas County Chairmen Baisley, things look good. Baisley scored a record breaking win for Republicans, maintaining all seats, State and Federal in his purview. Call on the other hand posted record-breaking losses for the Republicans in Colorado in the past November election.
When elected, Call had said, “My job is to help Republicans get elected. But it's also to help build and broaden the Republican coalition, and it is sort of a coalition warfare sort of approach.” By Call’s own job description Call failed in 2012. Not only did Call fail to deliver the vital swing state vote against Obama, but also on the state level the GOP suffered a massive drop, losing their majority in the State House. The Colorado GOP also failed to gain the once hoped for State Senate majority. Colorado is now fully Democrat denominated, resulting in a losing battle over their 2nd Amendment rights and more. Just as the University of Colorado ousted its losing Football coach, one would have thought that Call would be replaced without question. But that is not necessarily the case.
Sadly, the race got down and dirty this week as Call loyalists dug up and posted a previous foreclosure notice on Baisley’s home, questioning whether Baisley was fit to run the party. Baisley immediately stepped up to confess that his business had been hit very hard, no thanks to the Obama Administration playing numbers games with his contracts, and that Baisley struggled as an entrepreneur in this economy. But Baisley recovered, he took a dire situation, turned it around and never lost his home.
Likewise Call has a humiliating record he would rather keep hidden. Call’s well-concealed arrest record in 2011 has emerged. Call had failed to appear in court to be held accountable for numerous traffic violations, and was driving with a suspended license. This questions Call’s integrity as a law-abiding citizen, his profession as an officer of the court (a lawyer), and his character as he managed to keep his record under wraps until now. Neither leak was connected to the two candidate’s campaigns, but rather to passionate party activists on either side.
With one day to go, the race is neck and neck. Call is claiming to have the advantage after securing the majority of the endorsements from most of the State’s elected officials, the Central Committee members and many eligible Bonus Members. Naturally, Call secured many of his endorsements before Baisley had chosen to challenge him and the current Bonus members were elected. But with the vote taking place tomorrow on Saturday, March 2, 2013, it’s notable that Reince Priebus has been appearing in Colorado lately, both in person and on local radio, supporting Call. Priebus will appear again, speaking at a dinner event to kick off the Central Committee Meetings tonight.
In his debate this week against Baisley, Call admitted to the supreme failures in Colorado chalking them up to his personal “lesson learned.” But Call also boasted that if elected he has been selected by the RNC to hold 1 of 8 coveted, as he implied, positions on a committee that will redefine how the national party interacts with the states in future elections. Call added that this committee seat is not transferable should he be defeated by Baisley. Interesting.
The question must be asked, ‘Why would the losing RNC choose a profoundly losing State Party Chairman to be an advisor in a key role within the party?’ The answer is ‘blind loyalty.’ But this is not the RNC’s decision. Isn’t it time the GOP Central Committee in Colorado decided to elect a leader that will win the arguments, defend classic Republican principles and deliver victories in elections?
In an early interview Baisley was asked why he was running against Call. Baisley admitted he had not initially considered running, but he was being drafted by many minority and conservative groups across Colorado seeking true leadership. After Baisley decided to enter the race, some within the party questioned Baisley’s ‘loyalty’ to Call. Baisley said at that point he realized, “This isn’t about Mark’s loyalty to his friend, Ryan. It is about a Republican’s loyalty to the principles and the health of the Party, of the nation.” It should be added here, ‘and the purpose of the government to serve the public, not insider loyalties.’
As Republican State Party Chairmanship races will be repeated across all 50 states over the next couple years, where will the GOP loyalties lie? Will they lie with establishment connected friends, even those that are obviously bad for the party? Or, will their loyalty lie with their principles? Let’s hope that on Saturday, Colorado Republicans will decide to set the right trend for the country.
Monica Morrill contributes to other news venues, including The American Thinker, SUA, Conservative Daily News, and SFPPR News & Analysis