Grassroots in Colorado

Grassroots in Colorado

Up before the sun on another Saturday morning.  The air was crisp with the smell of rain lingering.  The date was April 9, 2016.  I left the house as the sun peeked over the horizon in the east.  My fourth daughter, who was born a month prematurely at 3 1/2 pounds, turned 1 on this day.  I left her with my wife at home as I ventured south to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the shadow of glorious Pikes Peak.

At 14,115 feet above sea level, a snow-covered Pikes Peak stands above Colorado Springs, Colorado.

At 14,115 feet above sea level, a snow-covered Pikes Peak in the distance on a crisp April morning.

I was missing time with my daughter on her first birthday as a result of being elected as a delegate to attend the Republican State Assembly.  The election came at our county assembly three weeks prior.  County assemblies were held all over the state where delegates and alternates were elected to the State Assembly.  At this State Assembly, delegates would be elected to attend the Republican National Convention taking place in Cleveland, Ohio this year.

When I arrived at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, there were hundreds of signs showing support for various candidates in different elections.  After parking, I made my way to the entrance of the arena.  Greeting me on my walk were dozens of people handing out papers advertising support for their cause or the candidate they were supporting.  There was much red, white and blue to be seen, along with many, MANY bright orange t-shirts.

After having my delegate badge scanned, I entered the venue and saw table after table where volunteers were camped out to share information and encourage you to vote for their candidate.  One table contained hundreds of buttons for purchase.  I will say that there were definitely some creative buttons that could be bought.

I made my way to my county’s section and found a seat with my name on it.  The feeling was a bit surreal for me in that here I was, at the Republican State Assembly, and I would be casting votes that day.  I was afforded this right to cast votes first by my neighbors within my precinct caucus and then by delegates in my district at the county assembly.  After briefly sharing my concerns about our country as well as the futures of my children, I was humbled to be voted as a delegate to represent those people voting for me.  The surreal feeling stemmed from the view that I have of myself, that of a pretty simple, average guy.  That average guy was now sitting as a delegate at the State Assembly.

Delegate

As I sat at the State Assembly, the surreal feeling turned to one of invigoration.  There were countless numbers of people sharing many of the same views as I hold and putting forth an effort to see change and transformation take place in the upcoming days, months and years.

It was a long day at the World Arena.  Many political figures took to the stage to fire up the crowd.  There were also many candidates for multiple races that appeared and spoke at the State Assembly.  Some of these races included a seat on the Colorado University Board of Regents, Committee Man & Committee Woman races, obviously the United States Presidential race, and also the race for the United States Senate.

For the United States Senate election, there are a couple ways for a candidate to have their name placed on the State of Colorado’s Republican primary ballot.  One way is to petition their way on.  By petitioning their way on, a candidate must collect a minimum number of valid signatures throughout the state in each of the seven congressional districts.  At this moment, two candidates have petitioned their way on to the ballot and two others are considering their options after the Secretary of State stated they did not meet the petition requirements.

The other way for a candidate to appear on the primary ballot is to go through the caucus system.  Numerous candidates were in attendance at this State Assembly trying to earn enough votes to be placed on the primary ballot.  To be placed on the primary ballot, a candidate would need to receive at least 30% of the delegates votes cast at the State Assembly.  My feeling is that those candidates going through the caucus system are grassroots candidates.  These candidates must work to gain their support from the grassroots level.  Dictionary.com defines grassroots as, “the common or ordinary people, especially as contrasted with the leadership or elite of a political party.”  If a candidate does not have support at the grassroots level, they will not be successful.

Tim Neville, currently a State Senator in Colorado, was the presumptive Republican favorite in the U.S. Senate race heading into the State Assembly.  When Neville got up to speak, he had a strong contingent of supporters.  Another candidate, Peg Littleton, also had a strong following and professional video production put together to start her presentation off.  After hearing from both of these candidates, I thought both would get the 30% of votes needed to move forward and onto the primary ballot.

Very few people predicted what happened soon after those presentations.  Another candidate for U.S. Senate, Darryl Glenn, spoke to the Assembly.  Mr. Glenn took the World Arena by surprise and absolutely energized the delegation.  His speech was direct and touched on many political hot buttons.  He received multiple standing ovations during his brief time on stage.  Delegates throughout the arena felt a connection to the standards and views expressed by Glenn.  His speech was inspiring.

After Glenn’s speech, I personally witnessed multiple people take “Neville” stickers that they had been wearing and traded them in for Glenn t-shirts.  After the votes were counted for the U.S. Senate race, neither Tim Neville nor Peg Littleton received the minimum 30% of votes required.  Instead, the energizing Darryl Glenn received 70% of the votes cast that day.  Mr. Glenn was the only candidate that went through the caucus system to have his name placed on the primary ballot.  This was a remarkable, yet surprising, achievement.

The portion of the Colorado State Assembly that received national media attention was of course the Presidential race.  It has been well publicized the Senator Ted Cruz swept all 34 delegates in Colorado.  How did this happen?  Quite simply, at the aforementioned grassroots level, Ted Cruz had a decided advantage in Colorado.

Colorado has 7 congressional districts.  Three delegates are elected from each of those 7 congressional districts.  The remaining 13 delegates were voted on at the State Assembly.  The organization of the Cruz campaign was evident and obvious at the assembly.  Those bright orange t-shirts that were seen throughout the arena were worn by Cruz supporters.  The t-shirts listed delegates that were pledged to support Ted Cruz at the upcoming National Convention.

The campaign for Donald Trump simply did not have this organized effort in Colorado.  Sure, there were Trump supporters at the State Assembly, but my best guess is that they were outnumbered by Cruz supporters by a 5 to 1 count.

Another boost for Ted Cruz in Colorado was the fact that he appeared and spoke at the Colorado State Assembly.  He took the stage to a standing ovation and then spoke to the delegates.  Donald Trump didn’t bother to show up but did later complain about the system in Colorado.

Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz took the stage at the Colorado State Assembly on April 9, 2016.
Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz took the stage at the Colorado Republican State Assembly.

Late in the day, delegates cast their votes for those people that they wanted to have represent them in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention.  Those that were ultimately elected were Ted Cruz supporters.

After the results of Colorado’s State Assembly votes were released, Donald Trump was quoted as saying that Colorado’s caucus system was “crooked” and “rigged”.  He also went on to say that the people in Colorado “weren’t given a vote”.  These comments were reported in the national mainstream media.

The perception that Republicans in Colorado were disenfranchised and weren’t able to cast votes is wrong.  I’m an average Republican in Colorado.  I cast votes on March 1st at my precinct caucus.  I then cast votes on March 19th at my county assembly.  I then cast votes on April 9th at the Colorado State Assembly.  I voted… multiple times.  Other Republicans across the state also had the opportunity to vote.  We were not disenfranchised in Colorado.

If you feel disenfranchised… Get Involved.  The opportunity is there!

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