COLORADO SPRINGS — A group of Colorado Springs Republicans Wednesday endorsed Lily Tang Williams, the Libertarian candidate running in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race.
The nod from the El Paso County Republican Strategy Forum was the first time in its 13 years the group has endorsed a third-party candidate, says its chair Sheryl Glasgow.
Williams spoke to the group Wednesday for more than an hour about her former life under Chairman Mao’s rule in Communist China, a place “without any civil liberties, privacy, and economic freedom.” Her message resonated with the Republican group, which is neither affiliated with the El Paso County Republican Party nor the state GOP.
“It doesn’t matter what the political party is. It matters that the person stands for self-governance, limited government, and for freedom,” Glasgow, told The Colorado Independent. “We are Republicans, but there hasn’t been a whole lot of choice.”
Glasgow said her group has been disappointed with the large GOP field for U.S. Senate this year, especially after state Sen. Tim Neville was knocked out of the running at the Republican Party’s April 9 state convention.
None of the other candidates for U.S. Senate have spoken to the group about their bids, she said.
“We all personally know Darryl Glenn, and I think he’s spoken to our group in the past,” Glasgow said. “It’s just— well, I’m not going to say anything about Darryl.”
She declined to elaborate on Glenn, saying news that her group, which has the word “Republican” in its name, endorsed a Libertarian would be “explosive enough.”
The only other Republican so far who has made the GOP ballot is former CSU athletic director Jack Graham, and the group is not fond of him, Glasgow said. The Libertarian Williams found herself on the group’s radar when one of its members heard her speaking elsewhere.
“We said, ‘Hey, we weren’t favoring any of the Republican candidates,’ so he said, ‘Well, you guys ought to hear her,’ and we were all just in awe of her,” Glasgow said of Williams.
This would not be the first time a passionate speech has shaken up the race for U.S Senate or Congress in Colorado. First, a 32-year-old relatively unknown legislative aide fell 18 votes shy of taking out sitting Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs at the Congressional District 5 Assembly on April 8. Then, a barnburner by Darryl Glenn at the state convention the next day helped him secure 70 percent of the delegate votes to land on the primary ballot for U.S. Senate, bumping his six rivals, including Neville, out of the race.
The El Paso County Republican Strategy Forum, which meets Wednesday mornings for breakfast at Maggie Mae’s Restaurant & Pub and has been around for more than 10 years, isn’t known as the most potent political force in conservative Colorado Springs. Last spring the group endorsed Mary Lou Makepeace for mayor over former Republican Attorney General John Suthers, who won with nearly 70 percent of the vote.
Daniel Cole, director of the El Paso County Republican Party, says he’s expressed concern to the El Paso County Republican Forum that their group might be construed as having some affiliation with the official party structure. And he pointed out that Glasgow has an official title within the Republican Party infrastructure as chair of Senate District 10. Glasgow said she didn’t want her title as chair used in connection to her endorsement of a candidate outside the party.
“They’re willing to support a liberal like Makepeace or a libertarian like Williams in order to oppose ‘the Republican establishment,’” Cole says. “Apparently that establishment includes not only John Suthers but the entire field of Republican candidates for Senate.”
Williams, 51, hopes the recent endorsement will generate buzz around her third-party bid.
“I think some Republican officials aren’t going to be happy,” she told The Independent.
She’s running for U.S. Senate because she opposes big government, the Common Core educational standards, corporate welfare, and the nation’s surveillance programs. Coming from China, she says she’ll have no problem calling out her Senate colleagues as communists if she has to. She’d limit herself to two terms.
“They’re fed up,” she said of Colorado Republicans who support her. “I’m honored to have their endorsement. I do believe my freedom message is universal. It’s not partisan.”