After patting ourselves and fellow conservative blogs on the back yesterday for the Washington Post best state-based blogs award, it's time we give recognition to the original conservative luminaries in Colorado–the people that make Colorado conservatives matter nationally–Bill Armstrong and John Andrews. Their Western Conservative Summit has quickly become a major event on the national conservative circuit, bringing big names and big attention to the Centennial State.

Last weekend, the second annual Western Conservative Summit drew national attention and Presidential primary contenders and contenders-to-be Texas Governor Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and former US Senator Rick "Google" Santorum. Other big names included Juan Williams, Dennis Prager, Cal Thomas, Dick Morris, Mark Steyn and even a Sarah Palin look-a-like. 

This event is put on by former US Senator Bill Armstrong and Colorado Christian University President and former CO State Senate President John Andrews. Armstrong is of course the father of the modern conservative movement in Colorado, who gave birth to the careers of such modest little names as Bill Owens and Dick Wadhams. 

Andrews founded the Independence Institute, that bastion of center-right thought and under Jon Caldara, snarky, sarcastic commentary that drives liberals like Bill Menezes crazy. Andrews now heads the Centennial Institute which is based on the campus of Colorado Christian University, where the Western Conservative Summit was held. 

Earlier in their careers, these two men made the conservative movement matter in Colorado, and thanks to their continuing efforts, Colorado conservatives matter in a major way nationally. 

The event’s notable speeches included the press-pleasing pitch by Rick Perry.  
While it drew national news coverage, it was nearly universally derided as underwhelming, emotionless, and…well…short:

Judging by his out-sized win at the straw poll, the most crowd pleasing speech was by former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain. Video of his speech is not available, but his victory at the straw poll is:

The event even earned some link love from the most important man in conservative media today, Matt Drudge. A Washington Times article on the Summit, linked by Drudge, pointed out how pivotal the location of the summit is this cycle:

“Mr. Perry’s appearance in Colorado is significant for several reasons. Colorado is expected to emerge as a swing state that could serve as a harbinger of the election’s outcome. Republican strategist Karl Rove told a Denver audience in June that “as goes Colorado, so goes the nation.”

The national political chattering classes will be talking plenty about the swing voters of Colorado in the coming months, but thanks to Armstrong and Andrews, they are sitting up and taking notice of Colorado conservatives.

For more on the Western Conservative Summit and all things Presidential primary in Colorado, check out Michael Sandoval’s coverage in the National Review.