GOP stoked for Keystone confab, fanning flames of ‘Rojo Revolution’

For the Colorado Republican Party, it’s time to party like it’s 2010 at Keystone ski resort starting this evening.

According to the Denver Post, state GOP members are practically giddy about their chances to reclaim the governor’s mansion, Democrat Michael Bennet’s U.S. Senate seat and who knows what other key races in a red wave that will sweep the state next year and wash away Blue November of 2008.

The biggest indicator of the coming Rojo Revolution? Democratic Secretary of State Bernie Buescher’s loss to Republican Laura Bradford in the state House District 55 race last November, at least according to Colorado Republican Party chairman Dick Wadhams.

“Even in the midst of that horrible election of 2008, [Gov.] Bill Ritter’s vulnerability was already evident,” Wadhams told the Post. Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer fired back that Buescher’s former district in Grand Junction is 2-to-1 Republican and a traditional GOP stronghold: “If that is the district they want to look at as a model for 2010, please, by all means, do it.”

In fact, the then-incumbent Buescher, the presumptive speaker of the House had he been reelected, lost to Collbran businesswoman Bradford by a scant 583 votes. It’s more remarkable, and a better indicator of the prevailing political climate, that Buescher served two terms in the state House given the district’s traditional leanings.

Bradford acknowledged as much by her admission that Buescher was the lawmaker most responsible for her election (presumably by virtue of his party affiliation). Now she’s sounding the sure-fire, pro-energy Mesa County mantra of “drill, baby, drill,” and promising “the pitchforks are about to come out” over the state’s tough new drilling regulations.

Nevertheless, not all gas-happy Republicans are thrilled with the agenda of this weekend’s two-day GOP confab. Six-term U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, a candidate for governor, is taking a pass on tonight’s kick-off dinner. Not because of the rubber chicken undoubtedly on the menu, but because of a straw poll on party preference pitting him against his former staffer and current state Senate minority leader Josh Penry.

McInnis told the Post he’s worried about party infighting stemming from the poll, but critics – and there are many following his statements before the election last year that he could have beaten Democrat Mark Udall in the U.S. Senate race – say he’s just running scared given Penry’s ascendancy to golden-boy status in the state party.

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