If Colorado Republicans want a conservative in the White House, they will hand Donald Trump another Wisconsin-like drubbing this week.
Colorado will briefly be the center of the political universe Thursday, Friday and Saturday, though few have seen it coming. Between congressional assemblies Thursday and Friday, and the state assembly Saturday in Colorado Springs, Republicans will finish choosing 37 delegates to July’s national convention in Cleveland.
State delegates were not bound by caucuses in March, because of an earlier decision by the state’s Republican Party. Most caucuses did not bother with straw polls, which were purely ceremonial. As such, Colorado is in play after a caucus that was mostly ignored by the national media.
Most Colorado delegates are elected after stating loyalty to a presidential candidate. Though pledges will likely be honored, delegates are not bound when they enter the national convention.
Coloradans will find themselves in a unique position in the increasingly likely event the convention is brokered.
“We will effectively have 37 free agents,” said El Paso County GOP Chairman Jeff Hays, leader of Colorado’s largest county Republican organization. “In a brokered convention, our delegates will have a lot of relevance.”
Hays said the party wanted to leave delegates unbound so they would not be rendered irrelevant by obligations to candidates who drop out, become nonviable or self-destruct before the national convention.
“We got a lot of flak when we nixed the caucus straw poll. Now, Colorado comes out looking like geniuses,” said Chris Murray, general counsel to the Colorado GOP, as quoted this week in Politico.
All indications point to Colorado going solidly to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, making Trump’s previously assumed coronation evermore doubtful.
Though Trump can ill afford to lose Colorado, he all but conceded the state Wednesday by confirming he won’t appear for the state assembly or any of the week’s congressional assemblies. He knows he’s going to lose, so it is not worth the trip.
To help elect a conservative, Coloradans will support Cruz or Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Trump has effectively exploited a wave of populist anxiety some elements of establishment politics rightly deserve. To do so, he adeptly created the illusion of an anti-establishment conservative crusading for meaningful change. It was easy to be fooled.
But a genuine conservative does not change his position from one month to the next on important issues, such as abortion and immigration.
Trump has spent much of his life advocating big government wealth redistribution schemes designed to help the establishment. He was a registered Democrat for most of the past decade, making large donations to liberal Democrats. Nothing of substance indicates a genuine Reagan-style conversion from left-of-center ideology.
Those who have analyzed him objectively for the past year see a man who stands for nothing more than what a crowd wants to hear. As more catch on to this, Trump’s campaign unravels like the lead of a flashy “Apprentice” contestant who can’t close deals.
Kasich and Cruz lack Trump’s showmanship but work from sustainable frameworks of principle, substance and knowledge. Each has a proven record of conservative leadership.
The arduous nature of our political process can detect false prophets in time to reject them. At the close of Saturday’s assembly, Colorado will hand Trump another damaging blow that could help save their party from a grievous national mistake.
The Gazette editorial board
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