State GOP will focus on economy this election

Party chairman visits Durango to raise money for Brown, local group

Social issues won’t be winning elections this year, and Colorado’s Republican Party chairman knows that.

The state party’s focus will be set squarely on the economy leading up to the Nov. 6 election, said Ryan Call, during a visit Friday with TheDurango Herald’s editorial board. Call was in Durango to attend fundraisers for La Plata County Republican Party and state Rep. J. Paul Brown, who is running against local lawyer Mike McLachlan for the 59th District seat.

The candidates are financially neck-and-neck in a race that is one of the most competitive in the state, according to a June 12 article in the Herald. Among U.S. Congressional races, Call said the 6th District and 3rd District will serve to be competitive battles for the Republican incumbents. Meanwhile, the GOP has its eyes on taking the 7th District seat from Democratic incumbent Ed Perlmutter after redistricting made the district more Republican-friendly.

The Hispanic vote will play a major role in the election this year, especially in swing states such as Colorado and Nevada where that demographic is booming, according to national news reports.

A recent article in The New York Times outlined how Republicans across the country are courting traditionally Democratic-leaning Hispanic voters by focusing on the slow recovery, which disproportionately affects lower-income and less-educated residents who make up a major portion of Hispanic voters. That’s the strategy for the Colorado GOP as well, Call said.

The party is focusing on Hispanic business owners and chambers of commerce and hammering home an economic message, he said.

“The Republican party has always had as a core aspect of our party a commitment to the free enterprise system,” Call said. “The message of freedom and opportunity, and creating a better life for themselves and for their families is a big part of what resonates (with Hispanic voters).”

Beyond grass-roots engagement, the party will push more Spanish language radio and television, he said.

The Republicans are also broaching the subject of immigration reform, Call said. The president has “failed to deliver” on his promises in that realm, creating an opportunity for Republicans to step in, Call said.

President Obama’s executive action to hold off on deportations of illegal immigrants who came to the country as children takes a “piecemeal approach,” the state chairman said.

Instead, Republicans are advocating permanent guest worker permits and the use of higher education and military service as pathways to citizenship.

Since he has taken over the head of the state Republican committee, Call acknowledged he has had his plate full. He inherited a “fair amount” of debt when he was elected to the position in March 2011 and had to cut overhead by about 40 percent, he said.

The election of two Democratic governors and a Democratic U.S. senate delegation during the last six years has focused the party’s attention on the need to unify this year, Call said.

The tea party that rose as a distinct and powerful force two years ago won’t be as noticeable this election season, though the movements’ sentiments remain a part of the party’s core values, Call said.

“Republicans in Colorado have learned some pretty tough lessons over the last few years, that if they go too far to one extreme it narrows the coalition such that you can’t win and then you can’t govern,” he said.

Republicans are taking a more thoughtful and prudent approach this time around, he said.

ecowan@durangoherald.com