Mutiny: Colorado GOP Chairman Steve House burns – but does not fall

Colorado GOP Chairman Steve House played the transparency trump card last evening, outing three high-level members of the Party and former supporters whom he says tried to extort him.

House accused Attorney General Cynthia Coffman of banding together with former Congressman Tom Tancredo and Pueblo GOP Chair Becky Mizel. According to House, the triad said he must resign as GOP chair or face lawsuits and a press leak that he had an affair – which he denies.

The rancor was apparently born when House refused to hire far-right former state Senator Ted Harvey as the Party’s executive director, goading the no-compromise wing of the GOP that helped get House elected just three months ago.

At first, House backed down, unwilling to drag his family and party through the mud over what is actually a volunteer position. But once he decided to stick it out, the new chairman had a lot to say about his band of mutineers, and he said it publicly:

“The rumors started last night, when I was scheduled to meet with Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. When I arrived to our meeting, I was surprised to see that former Congressman Tom Tancredo and Pueblo County Chair Becky Mizel were also in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was initially unknown to me and I believed it was a routine strategy discussion by the Attorney General and myself. Congressman Tancredo confronted me about not hiring former state Sen. Ted Harvey as the Party’s executive director, and demanded that I resign my post. If I refused to meet their demand to resign, they threatened that a potential lawsuit may be filed and that false rumors that I have been unfaithful to my wife would be made public.

Neither I, my family, nor anyone else serving our Party deserves this type of treatment.

In my frustration, I sent the Attorney General a text stating that I would resign, because I did not want my family, nor our Party to be dragged through this. No individual, myself included, is more important than the Party. After speaking with my wife and my closest advisers, I informed the Attorney General that I will not resign.

No one should be bullied out of running for office, or serving as a leader in our Party. It is clear that our Party has some challenges ahead and that is what I was elected to address. These types of divisive and bullying tactics are why so many Americans are sick of politics as usual.

My biggest fault is probably the belief that I could unite all factions of the Party. Unfortunately, there are some who are more concerned with their own personal gain than doing what is best for our Party as a whole. These are the same exact people who fought against past chairmen, and they are going to try to take out the next chair as well.

As the state Chairman of the GOP, I represent over 1 million registered Colorado Republicans. I will not give in to a vicious and vocal minority that seeks to bring down the Party from within. That is why I am committed to staying on as Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, to ensure success in 2016 and beyond.”

 

House’s letter baffled, alarmed and delighted political observers. In large part, that’s because the big three behind the alleged coup — Coffman, Mizel and Tancredo – were instrumental in House’s upstart victory over incumbent chairman Ryan Call. The upset came just after Call led Republicans to some of their most significant victories in a decade – regaining power in the state Senate and electing Cory Gardner to the U.S. Senate.

Electoral success not withstanding, Call apparently received roughly the same critiques now being levied at House from the inside — namely that he was too friendly with the Republican National Committee and not friendly enough with the grassroots-far-right-Tea-Party crew.

That represents a big and swift reversal for House’s early supporters.

Indeed, Coffman offered a glowing endorsement of House for chair, saying that she was so impressed by his forward-thinking, common-sense ideas that she let him speak for her on the campaign trail last fall and invited him to serve on her transition team after she won the attorney-general seat.

“As I worked alongside Steve, I saw a uniquely talented leader whose passion for conservatism and our party is infectious. His speeches are inspired and motivating,” wrote Coffman.

Ironically, Coffman wanted House as chair precisely because she believed he could bring all factions of the Party together.

“Even more important to me is Steve House’s gift for bringing together people who have diverse beliefs, identifying their common interests while respecting their differences, and moving them forward to achieve a shared goal. I believe our party still is fractured among different groups, all of whom call themselves conservatives and Republicans. I struggle with the fact that grassroots supporters feel alienated from the party organization and can’t find a way back into the family that once welcomed them.”

It seems clear that Coffman no longer believes House is the man to build that home. She’s moved from adamantly telling the press he did promise to resign to saying the rumors and lies have piled up so much that the issue needs to be taken behind closed doors.

GOP insiders say that the vocal minority House refers to in his letter is largely conglomerated under the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a gun-rights group rumored to deploy very similar intimidation tactics against Republican lawmakers in particular. But with would-be executive director Ted Harvey holding silent and the big three getting quiet quick, the stage was cleared for politicos to tweet like, well, a house on fire.

Lefties rejoiced, a large number of Republicans lined up behind House and reporters made an endless series of puns:

 

Meanwhile, House did what party chairs do — he went to a party and talked about the Party.

 

 

Image bye Luke Bam, via Wikicommons.

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