The chairwoman of the Colorado Republican Party will not seek re-election to the post early next year, she said Monday, setting up an open race to take charge of a state party left listing after years of electoral defeats.
Kristi Burton Brown will step down after her term ends in March, finishing out her first term as head of the Colorado Republicans. She previously served as vice chair under U.S. Rep. Ken Buck and had edged out four opponents, including former Secretary of State Scott Gessler, to replace the congressman.
Her decision to not seek a second term comes six weeks after her party was thoroughly defeated on Election Day in Colorado. Democrats, whose influence here has grown over the past six years, retained control of all four statewide elected offices, grew their majorities in both state legislative chambers and gained Colorado’s new congressional district, all in a midterm election that had been slated as a chance for Republicans here to re-establish themselves.
Burton Brown told the Denver Post on Monday that she decided the best way for her to continue to fight for conservative issues was in the policy area, rather than as state party chair. She said did not know exactly where she would be working next but that she would focus on education policy.
“I think the election gave a picture of where Colorado is at right now,” she said, “and I’m always a very optimistic person, I think you know what’s true for this cycle isn’t always true for the future, which is why I think it’s well worth continuing to fight on all the issues in the Republican platform.”
She praised the candidates the party ran this past election and suggested that part of the electoral failures they weathered were because of the “national narrative” around Republicans.
She chose to make her decision before the New Year so that some candidates — whom she would not name — can decide whether to jump in to replace her. Burton Brown said Casper Stockham, who ran against her in 2021 and lost, will run to replace her. So, too, will Greg Lopez, who lost to Heidi Ganahl in a bid to challenge Gov. Jared Polis.
When she won in March 2021, Burton Brown said the party faced the “battle of our lives” and urged her party to focus on fighting Democrats, not each other. Whoever replaces Burton Brown will face what several prominent Republicans told the Post would be a years-long rebuild to re-establish the party in Colorado. Who that person is will indicate just what that rebuild will look like. Members of the party’s right-wing, like state Rep. Dave Williams, have castigated leaders in the wake of Election Day drubbing in November for running moderate candidates.
Burton Brown said whoever replaces her will have to work closely with the remaining elected Republicans in the state while also focusing on local elections, something she said the party started doing under her tenure. She urged conservatives in the state to remain optimistic about their potential and future here.
“The party itself — structure wise, fundraising, messaging, connections and relationships we have across the state is very strong,” she said. “It’s just we’re dealing with a reduced number of elected officials, and the next chairman is going to have to paint a picture forward that people can believe is possible.”
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