Donald Trump has a problem, and it’s called Colorado.
The presumptive presidential nominee who all but wrote off this state during the primary will be in Denver Friday trying to woo Republicans here whom he once essentially accused of running a rigged election.
How is it possible that the people of the great State of Colorado never got to vote in the Republican Primary? Great anger – totally unfair!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2016
The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2016
Those tweets came after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz racked up all available delegates at the April 9 Colorado Republican state assembly at Trump’s expense. Cruz spoke at the assembly that day. Trump stayed away.
But after besting Cruz in the presidential primary, despite his caucus hiccup in Colorado, Trump is now making a play for the state he had earlier skipped. He’ll speak at the Western Conservatives Summit gathering in Denver Friday and will also hold a fundraiser with state GOP power brokers. He’s building a campaign infrastructure, too, this week hiring the prominent Republican operative Patrick Davis of Colorado Springs to run his state operation.
That’s a new sign that at least Trump’s doing something in this battleground swing state.
“There certainly up to this time has been no activity that’s been observable at least from where I sit. Campaign? Haven’t seen one,” says Tom Tancredo, a firebrand former GOP congressman and onetime presidential candidate himself who has left the Republican Party but is supporting Trump.
“I don’t know exactly what he’ll be like as president. He’s a fairly mercurial individual. But I do know exactly what Hillary would be like,” Tancredo told The Colorado Independent. “That’s enough for me right there. That ends the story.”
Clearly not every Republican in Colorado agrees
Regina Thomson is a Front Range Tea Party leader who orchestrated the movement to ensure Cruz earned all the delegates Colorado’s congressional assemblies and state convention. Now, she’s the director of a group called Free The Delegates that aims to stop Trump from getting the party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention next month in Cleveland.
Thomson, who is a delegate to the convention and is on the credentials committee, is spending her time in the lead-up to Cleveland letting convention delegates know about rules that allow them to vote their conscience.
“We’re educating delegates that they are not bound to vote for Mr. Trump on that first ballot if they feel that he’s not the right nominee,” she says. (A rules committee would have to consider the proposal.)
In Colorado, Thomson says she meets two kinds of Republicans these days.
“There are some very good conservative people who have just given in to the inevitability, you know, ‘He’s not my choice but woe is me, this is what we have to do for the good of the party and the good of the country and we have to get behind him.’ There are those, the people that don’t support him but they’re just resigned,” she says. “And then there’s the people who adamantly — like me — I refuse to support him. If he’s the nominee I will not vote for him. I cannot in all good conscience, I can’t. I find him totally unfit to be president of the United States and to be the nominee of the Republican Party.”
Anything could happen at the convention next month. But Trump’s candidacy has nonetheless caused headaches for down-ballot candidates in Colorado, a state with a sizable Latino voting population and an electorate that’s almost evenly split among Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters.
Darryl Glenn, who won the Republican Party’s nomination for U.S. Senate Tuesday evening, not only had to defend Trump’s policy positions throughout his campaign, but also had to push back an allegation from an opponent that he wasn’t supportive enough of Trump.
Glenn sought to dispel the attack at his election night victory party, explaining to The Independent what could happen in Cleveland and what he would like to see (Spoiler: Donald Trump as the nominee):
Meanwhile, Republican Congressman Mike Coffman, who is in a tough reelection fight in his suburban 6th Congressional District with Democratic state Sen. Morgan Carroll, released a new ad that a New York Times political reporter called a “clear as day” strategy to deal with The Donald at the top of the ticket.
How are downballot Rs in diverse states handling Trump? See this Coffman spot in CO, implication clear as day https://t.co/52jkF5kMdL
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) June 30, 2016
In response to Trump’s visit, demonstrators are planning to build a 30-foot-long wall in a Denver park to protest his appearance. The wall will be made of boxes for donated goods to go to charities that help immigrants.
Trump’s stop in Colorado comes two days after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton toured a co-working space in downtown Denver.
The battle in the battleground has begun.
[Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons in Flickr]