It happened again. An underdog tapped the emotions of fed-up Republicans, tired of business as usual, and defied the widely assumed outcome of a major political event. Upsets seldom get bigger than this.

The Republican Party is getting a political blood transfusion. For Democrats, this may not be good news.

Colorado’s GOP transformation progressed Saturday with the convention election of El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn to run in the Republican primary of the United States Senate. He won with 2,664 votes. Tim Neville, the presumed front-runner going in, garnered only 696 votes. Commissioner Peg Littleton came in third with 218. Tallies for four other candidates went down from there.

Glenn’s low-budget campaign garnered incessant negative feedback the commissioner shrugged off for the past year. “You can’t win,” he was frequently told. The more sinister critics said Glenn’s campaign would never get off the ground.

Glenn took the stage Saturday at The Broadmoor World Arena, packed with more than 6,000 delegates and alternates to the Colorado State Convention, and made his case with fervor. He will proceed to the June primary as the lone senatorial survivor of the convention. Four other candidates — Robert Blaha, Ryan Frazier, Jack Graham and Jon Keyser — avoided the convention and submitted petitions for inclusion in the primary. The secretary of state’s office will finish validating signatures this month.

In a less surprising outcome, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz trounced Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich for Colorado’s presidential delegates.

Glenn’s victory follows the jaw-dropping nomination of 32-year-old Calandra Vargas to run in the Republican primary against U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn. The little-known write-in candidate won by 58 percent, with Lamborn receiving only 35 percent.

Like Vargas, Glenn convinced the crowd he was different than standard Republican fare. He repeatedly brought delegates to their feet when talking immigration, debt, national security and race relations. The message was nothing so unique. What mattered most was the passionate commitment to aggressively represent the people without favoring authority, establishment politics, Washington etiquette or political fashion.

“I hope the reporters are listening, because I’ve got news for them: All lives matter,” said Glenn, who is black.

Then he delivered the line of the day.

“I’m tired of hearing about Republicans reaching across the aisle. We need to step up and lead, ladies and gentlemen,” Glenn said. It appeared to close the deal among a crowd that believes House and Senate Republicans have squandered majority status and buckled under a popular Democratic president.

The convention was a showcase of diversity among candidates and a long parade of white, black, Indian, straight, gay, male and female speakers in positions of power. Nothing resembled the party’s old established white male image.

Two black men and one female running for the Senate spoke with eloquence about liberating individuals to ascend culturally, professionally and economically. Republicans have seldom sounded so connected with, or concerned about, middle-class and low-income Americans.

A chunk of the show was moderated by state GOP Vice Chairman Derrick Wilburn, a black man from Colorado Springs who founded American Conservatives of Color. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman talked about her unending efforts to represent average people of Colorado, not just powerful state officials. The president of Colorado Jewish Republicans spoke about the Torah’s teaching that government social spending is not legitimate charity.

The crowd warmly welcomed a representative of Log Cabin Republicans, a gay organization. Hispanic senatorial candidate Jerry Natividad, like Hispanic Cruz, drove home a message that conservative taxing and regulatory policies would help minorities and others mired in low-wage work.

Republicans are breaking their outdated mold, as seen Friday and Saturday in Colorado Springs. Democrats should take heed. They aren’t facing grandpa’s old GOP this year.


(c)2016 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

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