Updated: October 4, 2013 at 7:53 am
No, the recalls were not just a grass-roots thing. In fact, they reveal a synergy of establishment and grass-roots forces with which conservatives can win.
Recalls of state Sens. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, and John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, destabilized the "Colorado Model" - the left's stratagem for controlling traditionally Republican states and installing doctrinaire, jobs-killing social policies.
With the recalls, the Republican Party's young new conservative element confiscated and redefined the term "Colorado Model." Today, it is a blueprint that says politicians who counter liberty and prosperity, who see the Constitution as a burden, can and will be replaced.
Grass-roots conservatives and libertarians, with no direct ties to Colorado's state or county Republican parties, initiated the recalls and deserve great credit. Yet, to replicate the new Colorado Model one must know grass-roots activists did not succeed on their own. Despite conventional wisdom, the Morse recall had no chance - repeat, no chance - without massive support of the once-establishment Republican parties of the county and state.
Some in the media, even Republican-friendly sources, don't seem to get it. A day after the recalls, a low-information voter from Fort Collins persuaded Rush Limbaugh the Republican Party had been "missing in action." Fun to say; far from true.
Exacerbating public confusion is a disinformation campaign by Jennifer Kerns, who served as spokeswoman for several recall organizations. Kerns wrote a Sept. 26 column for the Washington Times that said "our own Republican Party worked against the recall efforts."
The preposterous Kerns allegation counters progress seen with Colorado's GOP organizations providing essential support for new grass-roots activism. The recalls showed what can happen when the GOP gets behind the will of ordinary people, mostly new to politics and motivated to work for change that's good for society.
The Gazette witnessed a phone bank at El Paso County's Republican headquarters, where volunteers made more than 22,000 calls to support the recall. GOP callers asked voters to eject Morse from office. They asked voters when and where they intended to vote. They offered transportation to voting locations. The recall succeeded by 319 votes and anyone who witnessed the GOP in action cannot imagine a scenario in which the party didn't get thousands of pro-recall voters to the polls.
Without the state and county Republican parties, recall campaigners would have been crushed by several out-of-state multibillionaires - including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The big money supporting Morse and Giron helped fund assistance from the Chicago Democratic machine's best political operatives.
The Republican Party made sure a viable replacement for Morse appeared on the ballot and put him to work making calls. El Paso County GOP Chairman Jeff Hays and Executive Director Daniel Cole barely slept in weeks leading up to the election. They organized 140 volunteers and strategically countered every maneuver of the pro-Morse billionaires and big-money Chicago operatives.
State Republican officials practically camped at the county headquarters for weeks, spending 10 to 12 hours a day supporting the recall. The party raised money to create and place ads.
Yet, GOP contributions translate into "missing in action" and working "against" the recalls in the words of a few dishonest and/or ill-informed observers.
Conservatives may revolutionize government locally, regionally and nationally by recreating Colorado's combination of grass-roots activism and party methodology. Those interested in seeing such progress will stop denying one big chunk of a model that worked. Those interested in boosting their political freelance careers, without regard for outcomes they ostensibly support, will promote conspiracy theories that fraudulently demonize their philosophical allies.
"This establishment vs. grass-roots narrative is largely a fiction and counterproductive," wrote Cole, in response to "missing in action" charges. "Do the 140 volunteers deployed by the El Paso County GOP represent the 'establishment' or the 'grassroots'? I suppose that, since they don't fit neatly into either category, it's easier for this first crop of recall historians to pretend they didn't exist."
In Washington, the old guard continues eschewing smart, fearless, grass-roots conservatives - such as Sen. Ted "Filibuster" Cruz - who espouse agendas of economic and social freedom. In Colorado, by stark contrast, the Republican establishment embraces entrepreneurial political perseverance as the future of the party and a blueprint for victory. It's a model conservatives throughout the country will copy if they want another Reagan-style revolution.