March 22, 2009

Dick Wadhams Decisively Reelected Colorado GOP Chair, Leondray Gholston Pulls Off Third Round Upset For Vice Chair

**Update 3--Scott McInnis "in" for Governor?

**Update 2--Lynn Bartels doesn't disappoint . . . Dick Wadhams accused of being "liberal"--heh.

**Update--photos posted (scroll).

Ben DeGrow was able to post before I got home from a long day at the state central committee organizational meeting, but his report is accurate.

I would like, however, to elaborate on the proceedings.

The vote totals for state chair were immaterial, but Christine Tucker's last-minute withdrawal appeared to boost Tom Stone's bid against current chair Dick Wadhams, and drew a round of gasps from the crowd. In the end, Wadhams was comfortably reelected. Both Tucker and Stone emphasized expanding the appeal of the GOP, with Tucker adamantly calling for attention to the youth within the party.

With Wadhams' reelection assured, the attention quickly turned to the crowded field for vice-chair, with Arapahoe County's Nathan Chambers (who appeared to be the establishment candidate) arguing that experience trumped vision, dismissing his main opponent's appeal as nothing more than "oratory." Chambers' speech, preceded by nomination from Attorney General John Suthers and a second from former Congressman Tom Tancredo, was tinged with self-importance. Leondray Gholston, on the other hand, continued his impassioned plea to build a strong fundraising campaign designed to turn Republicans into "shareholders" of the party. Following a first round vote without a majority (simple majority required, otherwise another round of balloting would ensue), Chambers' slight lead gave way to Gholston's second round improvement, a mere two votes from a majority necessary for victory. The remaining candidates for vice-chair, Curt Grina and Marti Albright, dropped out before the third round, throwing their support behind Chambers and Gholston respectively. Needing 175 votes for a majority, Gholston took the vice-chair position with 190+ votes, leaving many in the crowd shocked by the events that had just transpired.

The Wadhams-Gholston team, as Ben points out, has quite a task ahead of them--to make inroads in the Democrat-controlled state and federal legislative contingencies, as well as the five state-wide offices of Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Governor, and U.S. Senator. The GOP will not be starting out from zero, as modest victories in the Colorado House in 2008 showed that a Republican comeback is not out of the question. The party also starts out this election cycle with no debt, and a headstart on political infrastructure. Needless to say, Republicans have a long road back to parity within the state, much less control. But the road to political dominance starts with the smallest of steps, and the new leadership team marries a vast amount of electoral and organizational experience in Wadhams with an impassioned infusion of vision, enthusiasm, and grassroots support in Gholston.

Waiting for the Lynn Bartels update on today's affairs, the Denver Post offers up the lame AP snippet--proving once again how much superior the Rocky Mountain News was in providing on-the-ground updates to local stories instead of relying on AP newsfeeds. Let's hope they return Bartels to the quicker turnaround we were used to seeing from her at the RMN.
Click to enlarge:

Starting bright and early, a very busy schedule.

Volunteers conduct credential check-in.

Rep. Cory Gardner chats with folks outside the auditorium

David K. Williams at the Leadership Program of the Rockies table.

National Committeewoman Lily Nunez.

The photo captions itself--Mark Hillman.

GOP Executive Director Michael Britt.

Tom Stone, candidate for GOP State Chair.

Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry places current State Chair Dick Wadhams' name into nomination.

Wadhams accepts the nomination.

The vote.

Attorney General John Suthers pleads with Republicans to make him less lonely by helping to elect more GOPers to state-wide office.

Rep. Doug Lamborn, CD-5

Rep. Mike Coffman, CD-6--with now former State Vice Chair Perry Buck looking on.

Rep. Cory Gardner fires up the crowd.

Former Rep. Bob Beauprez talks conservative principles.

Former Rep. Bob Schaffer, current chair of Colorado's Board of Education.

CU Regent Tom Lucero, candidate for 4th Congressional District.

Joshua Sharf, Denver County 2nd Vice Chair, speaks on behalf of Jewish Republicans.

Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier.

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