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Gazette Premium Content County GOP secretary keeps job after supporters swarm meeting

JOHN SCHROYER Updated: July 7, 2011 at 12:00 am

After a three and a half hour closed-door meeting, the county GOP party executive committee decided -- well, nobody knows what they decided.

After waiting until nearly 11:30 p.m. Thursday for word of the fate of party secretary Sarah Anderson, her dozens of supporters were furious to learn that the proceedings of the executive committee's meeting would be kept confidential.

Perhaps the most important part, however, was disclosed -- Anderson will retain her position as party secretary. Though the executive committee didn't have the power to fire her, Anderson signaled that she was no longer being shown the door.

Though the young GOP county party secretary was essentially on trial for political heresy, she was backed by more than 40 Republicans who swarmed the party’s headquarters Thursday evening.

Party leadership had anticipated such a turnout — an El Paso County sheriff’s deputy manned the door to party headquarters at the behest of county party officials.

That may have been a good thing. The crowd became angry when the entrance was closed after the meeting room filled to capacity. A man outside led the crowd of about 20 in angry chants of protest.

And many of them stayed at party headquarters until after midnight, first waiting for news of Anderson and then lambasting county party Chairman Eli Bremer for not telling them exactly what happened.

Anderson caused an uproar in political circles by publicly condemning a controversial health care bill by House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument.

After Anderson helped coin the phrase “Amycare,” she was lambasted by party leadership for breaking ranks. County Party Chairman Eli Bremer had said several times that if Anderson won’t back the party, then she should step down.

But not everyone in the party agrees.

Though the committee meeting didn’t begin until 5:30 p.m., people lined up outside party headquarters at 4 p.m., in the rain, to voice their support for Anderson.

“She’s more than a symbol. She’s a leader,” said Mike Nilaid, who drove from Boulder for the meeting. “She did actually step up to the plate and bring her values into the party.”

Nathan Burt, a Colorado Springs Republican, said Anderson was right to begin with, when she spoke out against Stephens’ health care bill.

“Amy Stephens should be fighting that (bill), not implementing that,” said Burt.

Outside party headquarters, organizer Josh Blough videotaped the event. He had helped organize the rally by creating a Facebook page called “Support Sarah Anderson!” and was helping get people nametags with the same statement.

And though Anderson will keep her place as party secretary, most of those who stayed until the end were still angry. One woman said she was "insulted" by the secrecy of the executive committee. Another said she's on the brink of demanding back the dues she had paid.

Local Republican Seth Myers commented, "(The party) let their dirty laundry fall off the truck, and everybody got a whiff of it. The way they handled it was completely inappropriate, and a lot of people are mad about it."

The party executive committee doesn’t have the power to fire Anderson. It could have censured her or perhaps stripped some of her privileges, but she’ll still be the county party secretary.

Which means that the fight will continue, one way or another.

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