If Colorado Republicans want to render their party obsolete, they will cancel their June 2018 primary. They will nominate candidates with an old caucus system dominated by establishment insiders who call themselves "grass roots" Republicans.
Statewide voters soundly approved Proposition 108 last fall, allowing Colorado's 1.4 million unaffiliated voters to participate in either the Republican or Democratic primary. It means Republicans and Democrats will benefit by putting forth candidates who can appeal to the masses, not just special-interest cliques within each party.
Prop 108 empowers either party to opt out of open primaries if 75 of its "central committee" votes to do so.
"We have a certain percentage of our central committee that wants it to be under the party's purview for how we decide to get our candidates on the ballot," said state GOP Chairman Jeff Hays, as quoted by The Denver Post. "They don't necessarily like the idea of unaffiliated voters being able to select their candidates or the party's nominee. But it's a small percentage."
Let's hope it's a small percentage.
Hays strongly opposes opting out of the primary, but plans to put the question to a vote at the party's Sept. 23 meeting.
State Democratic Chairwoman Morgan Carroll has no plan to put it to a vote, calling the notion of canceling a primary "inconceivable."
Hays won the chairmanship in a GOP central committee landslide against an opponent who criticized him for wanting to eliminate the caucus.
"Our caucus and assembly processes are disenfranchising, exclusionary, prone to mischief and are unfunded mandates that create costly logistical burdens in exchange for very little value," Hays wrote in the March 18 Gazette. "...The caucus is inherently disenfranchising. If you are deployed, working, ill or infirm, can't find a sitter, or snowed in, then you don't get to vote."
A faction of GOP insiders like the caucus because they understand the system, have time for it, and it gives them disproportionate control over outcomes. They don't seem terribly concerned that it leads to special-interest nominees so far out of the mainstream they can be impossible to elect in a general election.
If this question comes to a vote, the GOP's central committee should soundly reject the notion of disenfranchising unaffiliated voters — Colorado's largest voting demographic.
If the outcome is even close, just imagine how that will look.
Unaffiliated voters know little about the GOP's intra-party process. They will only hear how the "central committee" stopped them, or almost stopped them, from voting in a primary.
"Central committee" is best known as the ruling body of a communist dictatorship. The central committee's dictatorial role is to disenfranchise the governed, for the benefit of connected elites within the governing class. That's how the GOP's "central committee" will appear, and rightly so.
Chairman Hays will do his party a favor by preventing a handful of controlling insiders from undoing the will of voters.
The state's two major parties should get on with recruiting candidates who can convince unaffiliated voters to support what they stand for.
Don't let party establishment types control the political process. Make a case for good ideas and candidates, and convince the masses to support them. It's called grass roots politics.