In a shocking turn of events, Ryan Call was elected as the new GOP Chairman on the first ballot today in Douglas County. Most observers had expected the race to take at least a couple of ballots to decide the contest.
Ted Harvey seemed determined to make the election a referendum on Dick Wadhams' four-year tenure as State Party Chairman. If he succeeded, then Ryan Call's landslide victory is tantamount to another two years for Dick Wadhams.
The major subtext to the race had been a vicious battle between Dick Wadhams and Ted Harvey, with Wadhams swatting down Harvey's attacks and questioning Harvey's credibility on fundraising.
Harvey clearly misjudged the view of Wadhams held by voting members, as Wadhams received a standing ovation at the meeting. He also misjudged how much goodwill Call had developed among the voting members, having provided advice and guidance for candidates across the state last cycle.
Attorney General John Suthers and Senator Shawn Mitchell both gave stirring nomination speeches for Call, making pitches for Call's credibility and competence. Call's victory with Mitchell by his side further lends credibility to our analysis that Mitchell should have been on the Campaigns and Elections list of Colorado influencers.
The presence of conservative stalwarts like Mitchell gave Call the conservative credibility that his opponents tried to claim he lacked. His conservative credibility is now firmly in place, as the voting members represent the most active and generally more conservative element of the party.
This election was in fact the first for a State Party Chairman that included a large contingent of Tea Party-inspired delegates. Call may be one of the first statewide "primary" candidates in Colorado to have successfully bridged support from the establishment and the Tea Party. In that way, he will become a key leader for further building the essential bridge between those two constituencies.
Leondray Gholston, the current Vice Chair, wowed the crowd with a great speech. Keep an eye on Gholston — this is certainly not the last time you'll hear from him.
Insiders report to the Peak that one reason Call dominated so much on the first ballot was that he outworked Harvey on making his pitch to state delegates, while Harvey relied on others to do the hard work.
The vote is also something of a wake-up call for the wave of Republican legislators who supported their colleague. In the end, more than half of Ted's actual votes apparently came from his fellow members of the House and Senate who had endorsed him.
Meanwhile, among the faithful who build and make the party in the far flung reaches of the state, Harvey's firebrand tactics found almost no support. For legislative Republicans trying to find their way, it is a strong indication that the party brass around the state is looking for intelligent, conservative leadership.
They are not itching for an ideological revolution, or a purge of one wing of the party or another. It seems that conservatism and basic competence are the order of the day, something Call showed and Harvey couldn't.