Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Why I can no longer endorse or support a Primary Candidate for Colorado's House, Senate or Governor who does not participate in the Caucus process.

Unlike most other states, Colorado citizens are fortunate to have a campaign system that encourages grass-roots participation in the process of selecting candidates to represent them.  Most citizens across our wonderful country feel that they have little or no say in their states’ election process other than casting their final vote at the Primary and/or General elections for a candidate they know virtually nothing about.  Fortunately, that is not true for the citizens of Colorado.

In Colorado we have two methods available for those seeking political office to have their names placed on the Primary Ballot:

The first method is The Caucus System

Those Colorado citizens, desiring to take part in selecting which candidates will represent them, feel very fortunate to have a Caucus System integrated into the election process. 

Held on a designated Tuesday evening during each election year, the Caucuses are held prior to the Primary elections where citizens can be elected as delegates to their respective county and state assemblies in order to cast their vote for the State Representative, Senator and Gubernatorial candidate they believe best represents their values.  Should their candidate achieve the threshold percentage of votes required, that candidate’s name is then placed on the Primary Ballot; if a particular percentage is not achieved, that candidate’s name will not be found on the Primary Ballot.

Notably, the process leading up to and following the caucus requires considerable interaction between the candidate and the electorate in order to become known to the delegates.  Phone calls, walking of districts, direct mail, etc. are among the methods utilized by prospective candidates to make their case to future delegates.  Much time, effort, commitment and organization is expended in making themselves known to the citizens by those seeking election.

The second method is The Petition Process

I would call this the “Avoidance Method”

Colorado, unfortunately allows an election process that is often used by candidates to circumvent the caucus system.  Generally, a candidate will select this approach for one of two reasons:  First, the person believes he/she cannot acquire a sufficient number of votes by county or state caucus delegates at their respective assemblies to get a spot on the Primary ballot; Secondly, the person is not willing to spend the needed effort to become acquainted with voters and delegates, instead, finds it easier to collect a couple thousand signatures to acquire ballot access.  I call this, “The easy way out.” 

This method takes much less time on the part of the prospective Candidate who believes he/she can get access to the Primary ballot by hosting several coffees for voters, mailing fancy direct-mail brochures, buying radio ads, and presenting shallow arguments in venues with few voters challenging his/her reasoning. 

Conservatism generally takes a hit when the caucus system is circumvented

Most caucus attendees and delegates to the various assemblies generally have a stronger set of beliefs consistent with the national Republican Platform than the average voter.  Many hold strong, conservative views regarding School Choice, 2nd Amendment, Religious Freedom, Homeschooling, Property Rights and Limited Government, to name a few.  Thus, when the delegates vote for their selection of a future candidate, that candidate most-often holds views similar to those of the delegates.  

No wonder establishment Republicans give only tepid, if any support for the caucus process?  No wonder establishment candidates are more-likely to choose the petition process rather than going through the caucus process?  Yes, there are exceptions, but how can the average voter know, when voting in the Primary election that they are voting for the most conservative candidate?

If citizens vote for candidates who use the petition process to gain access to the Primary ballot, they, too, undermine the value of the Caucus system and over time that system will become increasingly irrelevant.

Let’s agree that in the Primary election we will ONLY support candidates who make it to the Primary ballot through the Caucus Process.  We’ll be better for it. 

Senator Dave Schultheis