In Colorado Springs, a county GOP official is asked to resign after endorsing a Libertarian

Kanda Calef is not leaving her post quietly

In Colorado Springs, a county GOP official is asked to resign after endorsing a Libertarian

 

When Darryl Glenn, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Colorado, walked back his support for Donald Trump last week only to walk back his walk-back days later, a Republican Party official in the state’s most heavily Republican county had enough.

Kanda Calef, a 41-year-old GOP activist and precinct leader in Colorado Springs who sits on the El Paso County Republican Party’s executive committee, decided to publicly endorse Lily Tang Williams, the Libertarian running for U.S. Senate.

Now the county party’s leader has asked Calef to resign as a precinct leader.

In an email to her, El Paso County GOP chair Jeff Hays explained to Calef how the local party’s bylaws prohibit precinct leaders from endorsing non-Republicans if there’s a Republican in the race.

“I hope you will publicly reconsider your position; if not, I hope you will please submit a letter of resignation as precinct leader in lieu of going through the process of being removed,” Hays wrote in part.

Calef, who says she will not resign, has been a precinct leader for the past four years and an elected member of the county Republican Party’s executive committee for about as long. She is a former president of Colorado Springs Republican Women and ran for the city council last year.

She has been a critic of Glenn’s in the past, she says, and tried to widely publicize aspects of his voting record she found problematic during his successful primary campaign against some 15 candidates for U.S. Senate.

“I track votes down here. I watch the local politicians and how they vote and what they do,” she says. “And I have all the dirt on them.”

The homeschooling mom with a masters degree in public policy sees her local party chairman’s attempt to oust her from the GOP structure as a way to silence a squeaky wheel. She’s not going quietly.

“I will not resign,” she said in an interview with The Colorado Independent. “I will be waiting for the adjudication process to begin.”

Hays, the county GOP chairman, says this will be the first time he can recall that the party will have to go through such a process. The local party, he says, is following its bylaws and treating Calef as it would any other precinct leader in the same situation. Hays said he could recall one instance in which a precinct leader couldn’t support a Republican in a race and so that person, whom he declined to name, resigned.

“These are internal party processes that are typically adjudicated without fanfare,” Hays added. “In this case, unfortunately, we have a precinct leader endorsing a non-Republican in violation of the bylaws, refusing to resign her position, and then making a public display of false controversy when the party initiates the prescribed process to remove her.”

Calef says during her adjudication process she intends to say Hays himself once supported former GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo when Tancredo bolted the Republican Party in 2010 and ran for governor as a member of the American Constitution Party. Hays says he doesn’t recall being Republican Party precinct leader at the time or making statements in support of Tancredo for governor. Calef might have other intel to share, too, about other alleged endorsements.

Asking precinct leaders to resign for endorsing outside the party might be uncommon, but this is an uncommon election year. Trump’s nomination has caused problems for down-ballot candidates like Glenn in a state that is almost evenly divided among Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters.

After Ted Cruz last spring snapped up all of Colorado’s available delegates at the expense of Trump, it was Colorado activists in the GOP base who led the charge at the National Republican Convention to try and derail Trump’s nomination. A national conference of some of the most vocal anti-Trump Republicans chose to convene in Denver. And just last week, after audio recordings of Trump from 2005 surfaced in which he demeans women, multiple high-profile Republicans denounced their support of their nominee for president.

For her part, Calef says she will vote for Trump even though he was not her first or second choice.

“The establishment had their opportunity if they didn’t want him,” she says. “So to me it seems very contrived that suddenly they’re not supporting Donald. [Are they] looking at polling numbers? What are they looking at to make them determine that ‘Oh, now I’m not going to support him one month out?’”

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Steve House says he is not concerned about a lasting effect of Trump’s candidacy on the state GOP. Republican voters and activists he has spoken with in recent days, he said, have stated repeatedly that they support Trump for president.

Says House: “We are really getting virtually no feedback from anybody that they’re not supporting him.”

 

*This story has been updated to include a clarification from Jeff Hays about his recollection about an alleged endorsement.

Photo by Daniel X. O’Neil for Creative Commons on Flickr.

Like this story? Steal it! Feel free to republish it in part or in full, just please give credit to The Colorado Independent and add a link to the original.

Got a tip? Story pitch? Send us an e-mail. Follow The Colorado Independent on Twitter.



About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

5 Comments

  1. Joel C. Miller on said:

    When Paul Ryan distanced himself from the Republican nominee which is the last hope of keeping the corrupt policies of Hillary Clinton out of the Whitehouse, Trump stated, “Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee.” My message to The El Paso County GOP Chair, Jeff Hays has a similar tenor: “You should center your efforts around keeping Hillary Clinton out of Office and encouraging GOP nominees to be clear in their goal of doing the same, instead of fighting and trying to oust the most reliable and committed grass roots organizer for true Republican and conservative causes.” When Daryl Glen placed his allegiance to establishment party leaders and their death grip on power above that goal and rescinded his support for the Republican nominee who received more primary votes than any other candidate in history, Kanda looked to an alternative US Senate candidate who would represent the principles Republican establishment leaders SAY they want to advance. Kanda’s answer: Lily Tang.

    So now—three weeks before this historic election—Jeff Hays dusts off the bylaws book he’s ignored for years and he’s focusing time and energy on removing a reliable and devoted precinct leader and State GOP central committee member. Why? Because she doesn’t tolerate the kind of hypocrisy and incompetency from establishment leaders like Jeff Hays and she makes him and others have to watch themselves which they’d rather not have to do.

    Hays himself and El Paso County GOP employees under him have violated the spirit if not the direct wording of the bylaws repeatedly. When I ran for Colorado Springs City Council in 2013 in a non-partisan race against another Republican, he attended campaign events for my opponent and allowed her to campaign continuously saying she had the backing of the County GOP Chairman and the County GOP Executive Director. Neither Hays nor Executive Director at the time, Bill Roy, ever corrected the record satisfactorily. During the most recent Colorado Springs city election process, Hays and his Executive Director at the time, Danny Cole, had no issues with the “rules committee” for the County Convention making it impossible for me, as a Republican mayoral candidate, to have a proxy speak on my behalf at the convention. [As the wage earner for my family I was required to be working on that particular weekend so I could attend debates and forums for the campaign at other times.] Nor did it strike Hays as unfair that the rules committee who established that rule was composed 100% of open supporters of my establishment GOP opponent. On election night for the mayoral race, the executive director at the time, Danny Cole, spent the entire evening at the establishment candidate’s event, ignoring three other Republican candidates. Hays has also parsed words in the bylaws about which contracts Central Committee members had to approve by changing the length of the contracts. Currently, the GOP for the County now has no Executive Director because a decision was made to “contract” for services from the former Executive Director (not sure if those services were bid out) who may or may not be precluded from doing outside work for candidates which could present conflicts of interest. My wife who was duly elected as a precinct leader was ousted with no notification and no due process whatsoever.

    Suddenly Jeff Hays is committed to the bylaws? He is committed to operate with hypocrisy and against the will of Republicans and this is this is microcosm of the Republican Party nationwide.

  2. Eli Bremer on said:

    Rarely do I post in online forums, but I think it is important to give some perspective to Kanda Calef’s background.

    Mrs. Calef has a long history of erratic behavior and making attacks on Republicans despite claiming that she is a Republican leader. During my term as Chairman of the El Paso County GOP, Mrs. Calef was continually disruptive for no discernable reason. She purports to be a leader in the conservative movement, but she is what is known as an “Astroturfer” or someone who fakes grassroots support to appear more important than they are.

    During my term as Chairman, I was appalled by the erratic behavior Mrs. Calef displayed in Executive Committee meetings and other party work on a routine basis. It was unclear if she did not understand the responsibilities of a professional organization or if she had other reasons for her bizarre behavior. The vast majority of the GOP Executive Committee found her behavior repugnant, and I regularly fielded calls asking if there was anything we could do to distance the organization from her.

    In 2011, Mrs. Calef openly supported the actions of our then secretary who blatantly refused to do her job and wanted to use her position for personal gain. Mrs. Calef went so far as going onto the radio and likening me to Lucifer, Adolf Hitler, and Stalin for fulfilling my legal obligations in running the organization. Her erratic and bizarre behavior was roundly criticized at the time, but she continued incoherent rants online and on the radio.

    In one of her original forays into politics, Mrs. Calef served a short time as an aid at the Colorado State Capitol. She reportedly had to be escorted out of the building for disruptive behavior. Additionally, numerous elected officials have told me she was incapable of conducting even the basic parts of her job as an aid though she regularly touted her Masters Degree as proof that she was competent.

    A few years ago, Mrs. Calef founded the so-called “Business Chamber of Southern Colorado.” This group did little other than attempt to lobby the local government and imply that they had tremendous business and grassroots support. In fact, it is estimated that as few as 5 actual businesses were affiliated; but the exact number is unknown because, unlike a real Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Calef refused to publish any sort of membership directory. This sort of operation is typical for Astroturfers who fake grassroots support.

    Three years ago, Mrs. Calef ran for city council and was given a stunning repudiation by the voters, earning less than a third of the vote. Though she purports to speak for the masses, the masses spoke with their vote.

    It looks to me like this current dispute is pretty straightforward. Mrs. Calef knows the rules of an organization, and she has chosen not to follow them. I’m glad that the local GOP is once again standing on principle and not allowing Mrs. Calef to bully them wile she breaks the rules.

    As a Republican, I believe rules mean something. We need more politicians who follow the Constitution and the rule of law. Much like Hillary Clinton, people like Mrs. Calef believe rules and laws don’t apply to them. This is what is wrong in Washington, and it is what is wrong with the whole political system today.

  3. B Buz... on said:

    I am a registered Republican. I am voting for Trump, but not for a single Republican down-ballot who did not endorse Trump and stuck with it at all times. I have just filled in the circle on the ballot next to Lily Tang Williams’ name.

  4. Kanda Calef on said:

    Eli, for not being a grassroots leader, you certainly have kept your eye on me. If I don’t threaten you and your good ol’ boys, why are you so concerned about what I do or say?

    For someone like you who supported state healthcare exchanges, a.k.a. Obamacare, doesn’t believe in free markets, and was born into a politically-connected family, I can understand why you would think my behavior in defending the Constitution and natural rights to protect everyday citizens from elitists like you would be considered erratic and bizarre.

    Next time I update my resume, I’ll be sure to call you to make sure I didn’t miss anything. ?

  5. Lana Fore on said:

    Eli has some real “nerve” to claim anything against Kanda-
    Here’s something to ponder:

    Eli received 1/2 the votes Kanda received on their race to be elected on the El Paso Executive Committee. (Eli, having been the Chairman to the EP Republican Party just the term before!) No other “former” chairman has EVER received such a low vote count.
    Speaks volumes and the people of El Paso County and their faith in folks like Eli Bremer.

    hmmmmmmmmmm!

Leave a Response

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>