It’s not easy to fact check some of the allegations flying around in the contest between Ryan Call and challenger Steve House to become chair of the Colorado Republican Party. But it’s worth a try, especially when the salvos appear in the media.
On public television Friday, for example, the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel reported an “allegation” that Call could have put two state legislative candidates “over the top” if he’d helped them pay for advertising during the “last couple weeks” of their campaigns, as they were “fighting hard” for a victory. But Call refused, and they lost.
Kopel (Watch at @1:30 here): House’s particular claim against Call is that Call refused to provide the support for two candidates who ended up losing very close state legislative races, Tony Sanchez, who was almost elected to the state senate, and Susan Kochevar, who almost won a house race, and her win would have put the House in Republican hands. So the argument is that they were close. They were fighting hard, and Ryan Call wouldn’t do a mailer for them in the last couple weeks that could have put them over the top. I don’t know the details of that. But that would be the allegation. Certainly, any chair of major party has to be able to work with all the groups of the party, the sincere moderates, the squishy moderates, the hard-core ideological people—and then have strategies to help them all get elected. [BigMedia emphasis]
Yes, you’d want a major party chair to work with all sides, but is the allegation true? Did Call screw his own party up?
Kopel, a Democrat who made the statement on Channel 12′s Colorado Inside Out, told me via email that he was “just summarizing House’s campaign speech” and does not know “know what went on” in the Kochevar and Sanchez races.
Asked about Kopel’s statement, Sanchez did not respond, but Kochevar emailed me a Feb. Facebook post in which she wrote that she lost by 1,500 votes, and she “did not receive any money from the state party.” Kochevar was selected by a vacancy committee in July, after Robert Ramirez dropped at the last minute.
Sanchez lost to Sen. Andy Kerr by about 1,000 votes.
“Shortly after Dec. 31 [after the election], I received a phone call from Ryan Call informing me that if I did not fire my campaign finance company, the Republican Party would not have campaign funds for a future campaign. I perceived this as a threat. I find it reprehensible that a party chairman would threaten a viable candidate,” Kochevar wrote on Facebook. “My campaign finance reporting was handled by Campaign Integrity Watchdog, which is owned by Matt Arnold. Steve House will not let personal grudges interfere with party success. He understands limited govt and will unify all factions within the party.”
Call did not return an email seeking comment, but his backers say the GOP state chair invested strategically, with limited funds, in the most promising races statewide. The decisions were tough, but in the end the GOP did better than it’s done in a decade or more, they say. In Jeffco itself, the thinking goes, Larry Queen had a better shot than Sanchez and Kochevar, who were both expected to receive big-time support from RMGO. And both Sanchez and Kochevar were seen, with no grudges involved, as weaker candidates. I’m not saying I agree with this logic, but I’m offering it in the absence of a statement by Call himself.
In any case, it appears that the allegation, repeated by Kopel, that Call did not do invest in the Sanchez and Kochevar campaigns, even as the races appeared to be close, is true, at least in Kochevar’s case. What role personality clashes played or whether a marginal amount of increased cash would have made a difference in the races is not known.
Republicans vote March 14 on whether to retain Call for a third two-year term.