By Michael Lund
When it comes to Ryan Call, Ken Clark and Jason Worley are not impressed.
In the past week on Grassroots Radio Colorado (airing weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m. on KLZ 560 AM), show hosts Worley and Clark have been heard to call for current GOP State Party Chairperson Call to own up to his responsibility for the devastating November election losses “like a man”, and step down from his leadership position.
Last Friday on Grassroots, Arapahoe County Tea Party Chair Randy Corporon was filling in as guest host, as he often does. Worley and Clark were on a “top secret” special assignment. The guests that day, freshman State Representative Justin Everett (HD-22) and John Ransom from Townhall.com/Finance pleaded with Corporon to throw his hat into the race for the GOP Chairmanship. Their enthusiastic request was modestly evaded.
And then yesterday, Mark Baisley, Douglas County GOP Chair, appeared on Grassroots to announce his candidacy for the position.
Ryan Call probably isn’t too worried.
He has endorsements from approximately half of the current County GOP Committees that will eventually vote to decide who leads the state party, as well as support from GOP notables such as AG John Suthers, and Rep. Cory Gardner.
Call’s ascendency two years ago came in a firestorm of name calling and finger pointing around previous Chairman Dick Wadhams, who withdrew his candidacy for reelection after the debacle that was The McInnis-Maes-Tancredo Show and Ken Buck’s losing challenge to Democrat Michael Bennet’s senate seat.
Stating his frustration with trying to herd the un-herdable cats of Colorado’s GOP, Wadhams said in a recent Lynn Bartels blog post for the Denver newspaper’s political blog, The Spot (January 13, 2013)
“[…] he was “tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party’s role is.”
In the same column, Bartels quoted Wadhams pointing to fundraising as another piece of the fallout from his decision to withdraw:
“When I went back to major donors they said, ‘Since you’re not running we’re going to hold off. We’re not going to give to a state party run by an idiot.’ Ryan is who they wanted to have win and so after he won fundraising picked back up,” Wadhams said.
The “idiot” refered to in Wadham’s quote is most likely Senator Ted Harvey, who was challenging Call at the time with support from liberty and grassroots groups in the GOP. Could the same divisive scenario be setting up for this spring’s GOP Chair election? Well, Baisley is no Ted Harvey, although they appear pretty similar on paper.
Worley and Clark were happy to give Baisley a soapbox to announce his candidacy, as they have with other successful GOP candidates. But they didn’t hold back with their criticism of Call, who they said runs a party that’s not all too inviting to liberty groups’ participation. Worley points out that he and Call went to high school together, but they still butt heads.
Callers to Grassroots Radio last Friday echoed some of Wadhams’ concerns from 2011, namely the danger of splitting a minority Party whose wounds continue to weep along ideological fractures, and the proven abilities of a candidate to deliver in the Chairmanship’s two biggest responsibilities: winning elections and fundraising.
Baisley addressed both concerns.
He asserted his longstanding friendship with Ryan Call and said they have always worked well together. He’s offering to unite the all who believe in limited government with his “model of respect,” where everyone is invited to share their talents in defeating the Dems – apparently to include “nuts” and “idiots.”
As proof of his capabilities, Baisley cited his success in organizing over 3,000 Douglas County volunteers, activitating a localized ground game for getting out the vote, and the notable coup of electing seven conservatives to the Douglas County School Board which eventually tossed the American Federation of Teachers union from the district.
As far as fundraising, Baisley reduced its importance as secondary to the ground game, but noted his successes, just the same. On the finance committee during Bruce Benson’s tenure ten years ago as leader of the Colorado GOP, he helped raise more than $10 million for the Party. In Douglas County this election cycle, enough funds were generated to cover all GOTV costs, max out a contribution to Mike Coffman’s congressional campaign, while filling in gaps in other legislative races, he said.
Addressing Ryan Call’s claim of early support from the counties, Worley and Clark enthusiastically point out that new leadership in the counties committees could undermine some of those initial endorsements.
Then Baisley said he had heard from some county leaders, who said if they’d known Baisley was running for the Chair, they would never have endorsed Call. They promised Baisley they wouldn’t be seen campaigning actively for Call.
It all sounds very encouraging for Baisley, if you can believe Grassroots Radio.
But can he herd cats?