What's the Matter with Larimer County (Colorado)
by MetaData, Mon May 22, 2006 at 08:52:17 AM EDT
It appears that the Christian Right has taken over the GOP in Northern & Eastern Colorado. The moderate Republicans have tried to fight back. But, they don't have the ground game. Colorado ain't Kansas, and recently the anti-growth, anti-government, anti-tax movement has been rolled back by the voters, with the of support from small business Republicans. The right-wing may take over the GOP, but that is a formula for electoral failure.
Pacified at Soapblox Colorado called my attention to an in-depth article about the struggle for control of the Republican Party in Northern & Eastern Colorado. It was a bit hard to get a straight narrative out of Kate Martin's story in the Loveland Reporter-Herald, but you get the sense of two themes:
(1) The GOP right-wing (libertarian/anti-tax and christian/morality) have pretty much succeeded in taking over the Republican Party in CO-04. They apparently now control the delegate slates.
(2) The traditional small business, "Chamber of Commerce" Republicans don't have the Party committees or grassroots activists or in place to counter the extreme right. So they are forming extra-Party organizations and even bolting the Party (see my post on Marilyn Musgrave in CO-04).
I grew up in Larimer County.
While the University town of Ft Collins has a lot of front-porch environmentalists and Liberal academics, the plurality in Northern Colorado politics favored old-school Republicans. You know, rotary members, insurance, real estate, developers. I always considered them to be exemplars of rock-ribbed conservatism, love-my-country patriots, get government off my back, with a little racist streak thrown in, but they were more likely to be mainstream religious rather than born-again.
The conservative leash (held by the spirit of Ronald Reagan) pulled a lot of them willingly along for the last good while. But these days, if you could opinion poll the rotary clubs across Small Town (white) America, I think you'd find them split pretty much the way Kate Martin's article indicates, i.e. Small-town Business vs the Anti-tax, God, and Anti-Gay litmus test.
This is bad news for the moderate side of the split, as they just don't have the ground game or the grass-roots to go up against the evangelical activists. They are assembling extra-Party interest groups, and even bolting the GOP to run as Third party candidates.
Looks to me like the moderate wing of the old-school Republicans could even find a lot more to like with the Colorado Democratic Party in Colorado... at least on fiscal responsibility, support for education and funding for infrastructure.
This split would be devastating for the Republican Party in the state, and their position in the Red-purple districts. Colorado is not a hotbed of right-wing christians, discounting certain parts of Colorado Springs and the low-population rural areas.