An interesting article by Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman published this morning breaks the news that State GOP Chairman Ryan Call is considering moving the caucuses to early February to help boost the role of Colorado Republicans in choosing a Presidential nominee. Such a move would greatly improve the importance of Colorado to the primary contenders and help Republicans build a serious ground game well before the general election.
As Call told the Statesman:
“We’re waiting to see what Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada do,” Call said. “The law permits us to move up to the first Tuesday in February, and we might consider that if a number of other states depart and (Republican National Committee) rules permit us to do so.”
Call said that state Republicans don’t intend to be marginalized when it comes to influencing the nomination of a candidate to take on President Barack Obama next year.
“We want to make sure Colorado’s interests are being protected while balancing the needs for a thoughtful and effective nomination calendar,” he said.
During the legislative session this year, state Senator Greg Brophy (R-Wray) proposed to strengthen Colorado's role in the Presidential primary calendar by making the caucus straw poll results binding on national convention delegates, though his effort never materialized into law.
While Call's move wouldn't make the caucus straw poll results binding, it would certainly make Colorado Republicans count a whole lot more in the primary nominating contest. Colorado is quickly shaping up to be one of the most important battleground states in the country in 2012. Primary candidates will need to start building strong organizations early on if they hope to win the general, and having an election early in the primary race ensures primary candidates will have to spend some significant time and resources in the state to win.
While Romney swept the caucuses in 2008, after McCain's nomination was but a foregone conclusion, his win this time around is far from assured.
As we have pointed out before, there are a number of top tier primary campaigns with top-level Colorado operatives helping steer their effort. If Call goes through with his plan, it will no doubt be a dogfight for the caucuses.
With experienced hands guiding their campaigns, and the kind of personal outreach needed to win an activist-dominated caucus, candidates from Bachmann to Romney will give Colorado GOPers the attention they deserve and generate the kind of enthusiasm needed to build a ground game worthy of a general election nominee.
While Obama already has a campaign office in Colorado, no Republican candidate has opened one in the Centennial State. If Ryan Call is able to move Colorado to early February, expect to see Bachmann, Pawlenty, Romney or Ron Paul open one sooner rather than later.
Kudos to the Statesman for breaking the story. Kudos to Ryan Call for pushing the change.