Former Eagle County Commissioner Tom Stone announced Friday morning he plans to challenge Dick Wadhams in next month’s election for chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. Running on a platform to modernize the state GOP and “work smarter and not just harder,” Stone unveiled a campaign Web site with a manifesto proposing to update the party’s message “while not changing our principles.”
After the GOP’s drubbing in the 2008 election, a passel of potential challengers to Wadhams emerged but then receded, and Wadhams was considered to be on an easy path to re-election to a second term running the state party.
But challengers might have seen a crack in the incumbent’s inevitability after the GOP chairman’s silence on the heels of a series of “offensive diatribes,” as The Denver Post terms the remarks of two Republican lawmakers that dominated the news this week. To wit, Sen. Scott Renfroe’s remarks calling homosexuality an abomination and Sen. Dave Schultheis who said testing pregnant mothers for HIV rewards promiscuity.
Wadhams and Stone did not return calls seeking comment Friday morning.
Stone’s platform echoes the sentiment on display this weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) — that “changing its message and sales pitch was the conservative movement’s biggest challenge,” as The Washington Independent’s David Weigel reported this morning.
Liberal elements outside our Party suggest that our values are a thing of the past. They want us to become “Democrat Light” and desert our conservative philosophy. I firmly believe that the opposite is true. We need to find new ways of expressing our ideals that resonate with the entire Republican spectrum and also speak to Independent registered voters. I firmly believe that the majority of Americans agree with our Conservative principles. It is our fault that we don’t convey our beliefs in an understandable fashion. We can and will re-craft our message. The future of our Nation and our State is in grave danger if we don’t
So far, visitors to Stone’s site seem to agree. Those who took an online poll at the site pick “message” and “technology” as the party’s “top priority.”
In addition to a backhanded slap at the party’s current leadership — “We cannot allow ourselves to be focused on and stuck perfecting campaign strategies of the past because it is all that we know” — Stone lists among the his proposed strategies using “social networking to enhance our productivity, our ability to monitor and influence, and our ability to lead.”
It’s advice Stone has already tried to put into practice: He announced his challenge to Wadhams on his Twitter feed Friday morning and alerted supporters through Facebook.