Leadership shuffle for Colorado political parties underway
Two people have entered the race to head Democratic, Republican parties
Colorado Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll, left, introduces U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet at an event to celebrate the opening of Democrats’ field office in Aurora on June 28, 2022. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)
As Democrats and Republicans in Colorado prepare to choose new party leadership, candidates have begun to emerge while at least one executive plans to leave her post.
Morgan Carroll will not seek reelection as chair of the Colorado Democratic Party next year, stepping down as leader after six years that will end with large Democratic majorities in the state Legislature and Democrats holding all major statewide elected positions.
“It has been an extraordinary experience to be in the trenches with all of you for the past 6 years,” Carroll wrote in a statement. “We have needed to do a lot of healing, a lot of growing, a lot of planning and a lot of organizing, in order to meet the moment and existential threats to democracy, our climate, and the fundamental rights of our communities.”
She wrote that she plans to remain an active chair until the State Party Re-Organization on April 1, when a new party chair and other positions will be selected. The party selects leadership in odd years.
Carroll served in the state Legislature before becoming party chair, representing House District 36 from 2005 to 2009 and Senate District 29 from 2009 to 2017. She was state Senate president from 2013 to 2015.
Under Carroll’s leadership, Democrats will have control of state government until at least 2027, with a highly successful midterm election this year for the party. Democrats are in power as governor, secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer, and the party has a significant majority in both the state House and state Senate.
“Colorado is not an inherently blue state. It is a combination of stellar candidates who are better on issues, who ran better campaigns and the continued implosion of the Republican Party that has been hijacked by its white nationalist and militia fringe,” Carroll wrote.
Shad Murib, a Democratic strategist and the spouse of state Sen. Kerry Donovan, has already announced that he will seek the chair position. He wrote that the “next frontier of Democratic politics is local” in his letter of intent sent to Carroll.
“My commitment to the party is to build a world-class organization that not only defeats Lauren Boebert, but also protects our incumbents and works with local parties to defeat far-right candidates across the state who threaten our liberty and progress,” he wrote, referring to the U.S. representative from Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.
Murib has the endorsements of state Sen. Janet Buckner, state Sen. James Coleman, state Sen. Jeff Bridges and other Democratic elected officials and party operatives across the state.
Colorado GOP chair yet to announce
On the Republican side, it is unclear if current state chair Kristi Burton Brown will run to retain her position for a second term when the party reorganizes next year. She told radio host George Brauchler on Dec. 8 that she will announce her decision this month.
“We will decide who is going to lead the party for the next two years. But whoever steps up to run, people need to say, ‘What’s your actual plan to get us forward in a very difficult time for Republicans in Colorado?’” she said.
A group of far-right Republicans, including indicted Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, recently held a rally to call for new leadership after disappointing midterm election results for Republican candidates.
Casper Stockham, who has run unsuccessfully for Congress three times, is vying to replace Burton Brown. He wants outreach to be at the forefront of the party’s mission and said it is something he has advocated for in the past, especially targeted towards minority communities and young voters.
Stockham came in third in the party’s leadership elections in 2021 and supported Burton Brown.
“I thought she was going to implement some of my outreach strategies so we could reach more communities. After two years, none of that happened. They’ve fought against money going to outreach. I didn’t see enough happening from my perspective, so that’s why I am running again,” Stockham told Colorado Newsline.
He said he wasn’t surprised at the lackluster results for Republicans in the midterms, because the party “keeps doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Stockham also wants the state party to form a task force focused on election security and transparency and larger support for local candidates.
Outgoing state Rep. Dave Williams told Colorado Politics he is weighing the decision of whether to run for the chair position. He did not respond to a request for comment.
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