Prior to this week’s coup attempt, state Republican leader Steve House was under fire from Tea Party activists for cozying up too closely with the Republican National Committee (RNC). It seems unlikely that the failed ouster was inspired by disagreements about RNC involvement in Colorado, but I’ll offer up some background about the dispute anyway, in case there’s more to it that I don’t understand.
Plus, the details about the relationship between the RNC and the state Republican Party, which emerge in the radio interview below, show that the state party is an important part of national Republican voter mobilization. This counters the argument you sometimes hear about the irrelevancy of the state party–beyond its role in candidate selection and the caucus process.
In a contentious June 3 interview on KLZ 560-AM, House fought off allegations from host Kris Cook and guest Ken Clark that the RNC was planning to implement voter mobilization strategies in Colorado, without cooperating or working with Republican County Chairs. Both hosts express little or no trust in the RNC, because they don’t think the RNC’s goals (e.g., electing Jeb Bush) align with the state party goals of winning the state house and lower ballot races. And they worry that House is allowing RNC to take control in Colorado.
Also floating around in the background is the 2014 campaign by the Republican Governor’s Association to knock out Tom Tancredo during the GOP primary.
In any case, here’s a few samples of House’s response to Clark and Cook earlier this month. (Listen to the entire interview below,)
House: “I would be screaming loudly if I saw anything in [the RNC's] actions, or our strategy sessions, or conversation, that they’re going to go to Adams County and cut out Anil Mathai. They’re not going to do that. I’m going with them to Adams County […]. “But we also have to hire people who are smart enough and capable enough to execute a strategy that gets us to victory without Jeff [El Paso County GOP staffer] having to hold their hand. The most important part is we’ve committed to the fact that all of these employees that are hired are going to be interviewed by the county leadership, as well. That is absolutely going to happen. And myself.”
House tried to emphasize that the RNC needs the state party and vice versa:
House: “If you think about what happened in ‘14, in ’14 there were 31 field offices created in the state […] called Victory Offices, etc. This time, the decision was made that it was actually more important to have people than offices. So, we may see two, three, four offices in the state. But it’s mostly about the field organization to get out the vote. And, you know, Chariman Priebus and I, and we’ve had conversations along with Matt Pinnel who is the Chair of Chairs, along with Peter Grace who is the APD for our area from RNC, you know, the strategy is, look, you have to execute on the ground so much better than we have in the past to win in a Presidential year. So the strategy in a presidential year is different than it is in the midterm year. And it really involves all these people because the belief is if we don’t enable minority voters, if we don’t get out the vote at a much higher rate, we’re not going to get there. And offices are not going to do that. So, I think it’s coincidence on the primary, Ken. I’ve talked to these guys five times, six times, in the last two days about strategy. I’ve asked the hard questions all along. I don’t believe we’re going to see –. I wouldn’t let it happen! I mean, I really wouldn’t. I mean, we – there’s no reason in the world, and there’s no way the RNC really can run their strategy without involving county Parties in what’s going on, because there’s not enough with 43 or 45 people on the ground to do that. They have to integrate into our volunteer structure and our counties, or there won’t be enough people.
House emphasized that in 2014, the RNC transferred money to the state party to cover the payroll of over 700 people, including staff, walkers, and field directors.
“So it all flows through the Colorado GOP,” he said.