Shelli Shaw, the chairwoman of the La Plata County Republican Central Committee, may be on her way out of town – and it has caused turmoil within the party’s higher ranks.
The house she owns near Lemon Reservoir with her husband, William Shaw, is listed for sale and internal communications among party leaders indicate that she has rebuffed a request from executive committee members to step down effective Jan. 16.
Instead, she told a party precinct captain in an email that she would step down March 19. Shaw is likely to face a vote of no confidence Jan. 29.
Shaw, a far-right conservative who burst onto the scene when she unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Barbara McLachlan for the 59th House District seat in 2022, bought the home in 2021. She was elected chairwoman of the party in February 2023.
Several documents submitted anonymously, which The Durango Herald was unable to verify, indicate turmoil between Shaw and the rest of the GOP executive committee.
Leaders of two Republican parties in nearby counties confirmed that they had received emails over the weekend documenting that Shaw had been asked to resign and was refusing to do so.
A letter addressed to Shaw dated Jan. 2 and signed by party Treasurer Holly Hott, Secretary Hope Scheppelman, “Bonus Member” Dave Peters and “Bonus Member” Lisa Zimmerman was included as an attachment to the unsigned letter from an executive committee member. The members requested in polite but firm language that Shaw hand the reigns back to former chairman Peters.
“Your announcement of unity and support for him, given his experience with presidential elections, would be a positive and strategic move,” the letter read.
Neither Shaw nor other members of the committee responded to multiple requests for comment. Peters hung up the phone when a Herald reporter identified himself. The party informed the Herald in September that reporters were not welcome at GOP events and its executive committee members have mostly ceased communicating with the newspaper.
The Jan. 2 letter thanked Shaw for her “steadfast dedication” to the party and stressed the need for unity heading into the next election cycle. The signatories offered her the opportunity to “announce your move to South Dakota” and inform party members that she would be stepping into an undefined new role at the Central Committee meeting on Jan. 16.
The documents indicate that Shaw refused to step down, prompting an unnamed committee member to email precinct committee people and party leaders around the region.
A copy of the email, which was not dated or signed, included the Jan. 2 letter as an attachment. It informed party members that Shaw had been asked to step aside and that “she made it clear that she refuses to step down.”
“We want a stable committee heading into the election year,” it read. “As a committee we have already had several issues with the way Shelli Shaw ‘goes rogue’ on us.”
The email concluded with a call for all precinct captains to attend a Jan. 29 meeting to vote on whether Shaw should be removed from leadership.
In a Jan. 8 email to a precinct captain, Shaw said she was “saddened to see the unfolding of confusing, lengthy and hurtful emails this past weekend.”
She wrote of infighting among the party’s leaders and said that “in the last 10-11 months, I have fought off more attacks from our own Executive Committee than I did the Democrats in my race for HD 59.”
“I don’t quit when it gets tough,” she wrote to explain her refusal to step down.
She informed the captain of her intention to step down March 19, after the party’s County Assembly.
“If the (precinct committee persons) feel differently and that an earlier removal is necessary on January 29, I will respect the vote of the people,” Shaw wrote.