The Path to Closing the Colorado Primaries

During this year’s race for Colorado State GOP chairman, we have a distinct choice to make. We can either support candidates, with very little political experience, who make vague arguments about what we should or should not do without producing a concrete plan. Or we can support a candidate with real solutions for our party moving forward.

When it comes to closing the primary, we as Republicans, have been toying with this idea since the primaries were opened in 2016. Some felt that by opening the primary we would be reaching out to the unaffiliated voters and that would increase our voter numbers to win more elections. The problem is the Party has NOT done any real voter/commnity/influencer outreach and our election success has gotten exceedingly worse.


Not only have our candidates not been able to win public office, but unintended consequences have occurred instead. Republicans have not had much interest in consistent outreach nor had the resources to do the same in their elections.

During the last SCC meeting, a group of concerned Republicans put forth a motion to opt out of the primary process. This procedure is clearly detailed in the bylaws listed below. The threshold for this to happen is very high -- (75%) of the total membership of the CRC would have to agree to this process. Even though we vote on this option every two years, we never come close to that percentage.

“Section C. Nomination Method Selection Meeting.

A primary opt-out meeting of the CRC shall be held in the odd-numbered years between the fifteenth day of August and the first day of October. Its purpose shall be to hold a vote of the CRC, pursuant to C.R.S.§ 1-4-702(1) on the question of whether to nominate candidates to the next year’s general election ballot by participation in a primary election pursuant to C.R.S. § 1-4-502 or by nominating convention pursuant to C.R.S. § 1-4-702(2). Pursuant to C.R.S. § 1-4-702(1), three-quarters (75%) of the total membership of the CRC must vote in favor of nomination by nominating convention for this choice to take effect. In the event of a vote in favor of nomination by nominating convention, the Chairman shall deliver notice to the Secretary of State of this choice as required by law.”

This opt-out feature, as stated in the bylaws, could be challenging because there is no clear path to simply closing the primaries and allowing only Republicans to vote. Instead, we would potentially have a few Republicans, through caucus and assemblies, selecting candidates for the general ballot.

At that same SCC meeting a motion was passed to move forward with a lawsuit, supported by the SCC members and the Republican party, to sue the state and go back to a closed primary system.

Over the next few months, a group of Republicans, outside of the CO GOP, raised money and had attorneys volunteer their time to move forward with a lawsuit against the state. I personally was a plaintiff in that lawsuit and the only party missing from that suit, to give it standing, was the state party and Chairman.


The state party Chair’s reasoning for not participating in that lawsuit was due to the unclear ability of the state party to raise funds to support the effort. So, the state party reached out to the (FEC) Federal Election Commission to ask for clarity on raising money for this cause. So far, we have not received the go-ahead to raise money and spend it on this lawsuit to close the primaries. However, we do have the ability now to set up an account to raise money for this cause but do not have the FEC’s approval to spend it just yet.

As the new chairman of the Colorado State GOP, I will commit to supporting the SCC vote to close the primaries through this legal process. The only way this will not move forward is if the SCC decides to vote in a different direction at our next body gathering. So, in short, the solution moving forward to close the primaries is to support the lawsuit against the state with the backing of the CO GOP chairman and to raise money for that purpose which I will commit to doing. The good news is this new lawsuit, with the support of the new Chairman, will have standing and does have good case precedent to succeed.

In addition, I will continue to support the caucus and assembly process despite the moves by some Republicans at the State Capitol. Even some of my CO GOP Chair race opponent campaign advisors are proposing to end the caucus process altogether and require all candidates, in the future, to pay a high fee for the privilege of running for office.

To move our state forward we need bold new solutions and experienced political leadership with a written plan. The way forward is simple but it's not going to be easy. We must get out of our comfort zone and back into the business of helping more people and solving problems. When we do these things, we will start winning more elections and will put our party and state back on track.


In your service


Casper Stockham