It’s been a couple months since Colorado Republican Party Chair Steve House appeared on Craig Silverman’s radio show and said, in part, that it would be too unweildly to for Republicans to vote on the GOP presidential candidates at Colorado’s caucuses.
Silverman is still talking about House’s comment, arguing just yesterday on air that it would not be difficult to hold a straw poll at the caucuses. Silverman rightly maintains that without the presidential straw poll, which was nixed by an executive committee of state Republicans, Colorado is irrelevant in the national Republican nomination process.
Just because Silverman is saying the same thing repeatedly doesn’t really make me want to pay attention to it. He repeated himself for years about JonBenet Ramsey, and few cared. But in this case, I thought I’d head to the podcast archive and listen to what House actually factually told Silverman, whose show airs Saturday mornings on KNUS 710-AM.
It turns out that House said that holding a straw poll “inflates the number people who come [to the caucuses] by a dramatic amount, and all kinds of problems ensue.”
To be fair, House also argued that new GOP rules would bind Colorado Republicans to their straw poll selection, even if their preferred presidential candidate dropped out by the time the convention rolled around. And House didn’t want to risk that Colorado delegates to the convention would not be able to cast a vote.
But House said the logistics of running the caucuses with an increased number of participants was “one of the bigger reasons why the decision came down the way it did.”
Silverman called that an “elitist game,” and he hasn’t let go of it, to his credit.
Here’s what House said on air Aug. 29:
House: When you go to caucus – and I have run a county before — you go to caucus and instead of having 50 people show up you have 500 people show up because they want to vote in the straw poll, you’re trying to get the caucus process executed properly, which is very important because we have state politics that depend on that experience. And what goes on in selecting delgates — and ultimately, candidates –it’s very, very important for us to do that. When you add in the straw poll, during that experience, it inflates the number people who come by a dramatic amount, and all kinds of problems ensue. And I think that is part of the reason why the county chairs, on executive committee especially, were very opposed to doing it this way because they believed it will disrupt the overall process and it won’t gain us that much. So, I think that’s part of the – that’s probably one of the bigger reasons why the decision came down the way it did.
And here is the full discussion on the topic:
HOST CRAIG SILVERMAN: Well, I appreciate you coming on my show. The talk of the Colorado right now is, why don’t we get to participate in this exciting GOP presidential primary?
COLORADO GOP CHAIR, STEVE HOUSE: Well, we are going to participate. I mean, if you were sitting in that executive committee meeting when we had that discussion, I mean – the executive committee is made up mostly of large and small county chairs, and a lot of liberty activist folks are on the committee, and people believe that by picking the right delegates and giving them the authority to represent Colorado at the convention, we’re still participating. I don’t believe for a minute the Presidential candidates are not going to come out here and try to have impact on who those delegates are, and what they vote for. I think if the rules hadn’t changed, I don’t think – well, there would still be a question, Craig. Because there’s a fair number of counties that deal with preference polls at caucus, and I think that’s the other thing that a lot of people don’t understand. When you go to caucus – and I have run a county before — you go to caucus and instead of having 50 people show up you have 500 people show up because they want to vote in the straw poll, you’re trying to get the caucus process executed properly, which is very important because we have state politics that depend on that experience. And what goes on in selecting delgates — and ultimately, candidates –it’s very, very important for us to do that. When you add in the straw poll, during that experience, it inflates the number people who come by a dramatic amount, and all kinds of problems ensue. And I think that is part of the reason why the county chairs, on executive committee especially, were very opposed to doing it this way because they believed it will disrupt the overall process and it won’t gain us that much. So, I think that’s part of the – that’s probably one of the bigger reasons why the decision came down the way it did.
SILVERMAN: But it seems like such an elitist game. You talk about “the right delegates” being selected. How do people in the public know who the right delegates are? It seems like it’s all going to be Republican insiders.
HOUSE: You know, it’s not really the people in the public. If you are willing to go to caucus, and you’re still willing to go to caucus, and you work through the process, ultimately it comes down to picking 37 –acutally, 34 delegates – three are already designated, but picking 34 delegates and 34 alternates at the state assembly – that processes hasn’t changed at all. So, if you go participate, and you start to figure out, you know, which delegates are to going to represent your interests, they in many cases will talk about who they represent from a presidential perspective that, in the end, the people who go there are very invested, very committed Republicans who want to see the right thing happen to the state, and for the nation, as opposed to – you know, what if you did a preference poll where you said, “Look, instead of doing it in a caucus, you did a preference poll across the entire state to decide who our delegates are. Now you’re getting into the primary territory, and that’s where a lot of people are very passionate about caucus want those delegates to have the ability to pick the presidential candidate they want, and not be based on a straw poll in March, if they many things change between March and July, as they probably will.
SILVERMAN: Right. But why doesn’t Colorado have a primary? I think back to 1992, and my old Colorado College professor, Bob Loevy – who is going to be a guest next week on my show — he decries the way that political parties select nominees. It seems like a fixed process. Now we’re learning the Democrats, with their superdelegates, Hillary Clinton kind of the has it in the bag, if she can stay out of jail. But back in ’92, I remember when Paul Tsongas, Bill Clinton, Tom Harkin — they debated in Denver, Colorado. And even back then with the Republicans there was incumbent George Herbert Walker Bush being challenged by Pat Buchanan and people in Colorado got to vote on those things. Coloradans like to vote. They like elections. How come you’re not giving it to them?
HOUSE: Well, look, you talking about a primary process that did occur back in ’92, and I think, that’s a legislative issue. I mean, that’s something where you’ve got to get to the legislators and decide how you want to handle that. Um, we really think that what will happen here is, the process is not any different than it was four years ago, now. If we don’t do a binding straw poll, it’s no different than it was four years ago. The delegates are selected the same way. They go to the convention unbound, exactly like they were four years ago. And there has been many, many people who defend that process very, very passionately. In fact, I’ll tell you that all the feedback I’ve got – besides, you know, Chuck Todd and his stoner comment, and as far as I’m concerned, we’d be stoned if we were going to listen to Chuck Todd to begin with. Um, you know, that whole thing – that whole process–
SILVERMAN: You mean, sleepy-eyed Chuck Todd? That’s what Donald Trump calls him. And, just to bypass the rest of this stuff, doesn’t this come down to Donald Trump? Isn’t it true that the Republican establishment really disdains Donald Trump and is going to design every role to pose an obstacle to him becoming the Republican nominee?
HOUSE: I haven’t heard Republican National Committee people say that, Craig, but, you know, look. When you go back—
SILVERMAN: But they feel it.
HOUSE: They may very well feel it. As far as I’m concerned, I’m very interested in hearing from Donald Trump as much as I am anybody else. And I believe they will actively come to Colorado, not only for the debate on October 20, but throughout the process to try to get Colorado delegates and people who support those delegates, to go their way. I think if the guy standing is there with 25% of the vote, you’ve got to take him seriously. He’s got a double-digit lead. I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t take every single candidate seriously. I had somebody ask me the other day, “Are you doing this to prevent fringe candidates from getting delegates?” And I said, “I don’t consider any of our people to be fringe candidates, I don’t know where you come up with that process.” So, the overwhelming response I’ve got has been that it’s better the way it is. If the preference poll were not binding and our delegates could ultimately go and make decisions based on what was current at the time – and especially if the potential exists for a brokered convention, although it doesn’t happen often – this is a very unique year. We will be in a lot more powerful position to influence what happens, and who the eventual nominee is, this way, than we would if we were bound to a preference poll five months before the convention
SILVERMAN: Steve House, the chairman of the Colorado GOP, good enough to join us.