DENVER – Gov. Jared Polis addressed the Western Conservative Summit in Denver on Friday – the first time that an elected Democrat has spoken to the summit in its history.
The summit comes amid some reports of infighting within the Republican party in Colorado. A Sunday editorial in the Denver Post called out a senior staff member in the House minority and accused him of threatening people in his own party. It also took aim at a powerful lobbying organization in the state, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.
“I do wish that we could work together better. I think that it is damaging when we have these types of attacks within the party and in between parties. Attacking is not the way to get a point across,” said. Douglas County Rep. Kim Ransom.
Rep. Ransom says if there are talks about bringing the party together, they are happening behind the scenes and shouldn’t be happening on social media.
She was also appreciative of the fact that Polis came to speak at the summit and reach out to conservatives.
Just a couple hundred feet away from where the governor was speaking, a booth inside the exhibit hall was educating people about efforts to recall him.
However, even within the recall effort, there have been disagreements among groups. One group decided to submit a petition to recall the governor before the other was ready.
“It felt like your wind was knocked out of you like you worked really, really hard and suddenly you don’t know what to do,” said Juli-Andra Fuentes, the chair of the Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis group.
In a statement sent out earlier this week, her group said they did not believe they had adequate funding or voter awareness at this point to run a successful campaign.
“We were definitely hijacked, and we had our legs cut out from under us. There was definitely no planning on their path. They don’t have a candidate, they don’t have marketing in place,” she said.
Fuentes says she’s afraid that the recall petition by the other groups will fail and that voters might lose the motivation to try again.
Despite this, she is encouraging people the sign the current petition, saying all of the recall Polis groups have a common goal.
“We want to take our state back,” Fuentes said. “The mission is to wake people up because we cannot let our state go away to socialism.”
For now, Rep. Ransom says she’s focused on representing her community and making sure Republicans are ready for the future.
“I think the base needs to be energized,” she said. “The Republican Party has something to do and we have an election coming up this November and then obviously in 2020. There are going to be some decisions made by voters at that time.”
That type of energy was echoed by the chairman of the Western Conservative Summit Jeff Hunt, who spent part of his introductory speech talking about things that happened in Colorado this past legislative session.
“I think a lot of people feel the state took a very strong turn towards the left. There was a threat to parental rights, to religious freedom, to sanctity of life, a lot of those issues. So, people were fired up and ready to get their state back on track,” Hunt said.
He doesn’t believe politics are getting nastier than they have been in the past but said when disagreements within parties do happen, this summit can serve an important role.
“That’s part of the Western Conservative Summit is here is a great place for conservatives of lots of different stripes to be able to talk their issues,” Hunt said.
Despite the reports of in-fighting, Hunt says conservatives are focused on coming together to push their policies forward, particularly in Colorado.
“People fired up and they are angry and if you’re not going to listen to them and you’re not going to implement those policies, there’s going to be a price to pay and it’s coming,” he said.