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Our View: Keep unaffiliated voting in primaries

It’s an interesting choice for attorney John Eastman to represent the Colorado GOP in its lawsuit to block unaffiliated voters from Republican primaries. The lawsuit alleges Proposition 108, approved in 2016, is unconstitutional.

Prop 108 required major political parties to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections. It also included an opt-out clause for parties, if three-fourths (a reasonable figure) of a party’s central committee agrees.

But Eastman? The guy isn’t exactly on a winning streak. Eastman, aka co-conspirator No. 2, is facing disbarment in California after his role in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. A former visiting scholar of conservative thought at the University of Colorado, the chair person of CU’s Board of Regents called Eastman “an embarrassment.”

Eastman can advise but not participate in court. Out of any attorney in the U.S. with a clean track record, why tap him?

He did represent 2020 candidates who sued to close the party primary. With no legal standing, the case was dismissed. But Eastman is too closely aligned with Trump – the problem in the last state election. Rather than doubling down, we’d rather see the GOP redirect toward a more moderate stance, moving closer toward unaffiliated. Obviously, that’s not happening. It doesn’t seem to matter that across the country in the 2022 midterms, most candidates backed by Trump bombed.

Except for Lauren Boebert.

Because of rallying cries for Democrats to switch to unaffiliated before the 3rd Congressional District’s 2022 primary, CD3 is the elephant in the room. June 2024’s primary will be another hotly contested race, likely to – once again – garner national attention.

Strategy-wise, we understand why the state GOP would bring this lawsuit.

If successful, it could mean unaffiliated voters would not participate in any party primaries – Republican or Democratic.

But back in 2020, it wasn’t just far-right Republicans who sent Boebert to Congress. Unaffiliated voters were the deciding factor in her victory, according to The Colorado Sun’s analysis of voter registration data.

Unaffiliated – too many to be denied – have an important role in our democracy. We’d rather this lawsuit not succeed.

Unaffiliated is the state’s largest voting bloc and the numbers are mushrooming. Recent active voter registration numbers show in CD3, about 46% are unaffiliated, 30% Republican and 23% Democrat. Telling figures.

For those sick of divisive politics, unaffiliated is the perfect designation. Especially for voters who are socially progressive yet fiscally conservative.

Socially, it’s a safe place to be. When asked our political affiliation, it’s a way to dodge to a safe place, like base when playing a game. To politely say, I’m neither. I’m my own person, voting for the candidate – not the party – best for our district. Candidates have to work harder to earn our voters – we’re not just voting along party lines.

The binary system of Democrats and Republicans is outdated. Unaffiliated signals free-thinking, a very American trait. Attempts to weaken this choice may ultimately strengthen it.

Who better to understand this than Trump? He seemed to have a conservative conversion and found his political home in the GOP later in his life. But he’s bounced between – and supported financially – both Dems and Republicans.

In 1990, he told Playboy, “Well, if I ever ran for office, I’d do better as a Democrat than as a Republican.”

Later in 2004, Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “In many cases, I probably identify more as Democrat. It just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans.”

Between 1989 and 2009, Dems were Trump’s primary beneficiaries, accepting more than half of his donations. From 2010 to 2015, that changed with 97% of his donations going to Republicans.

Back to that 1990 Playboy article, Trump demurred on the sensitive subject of abortion. Celebrity journalist Glenn Paskin said, “When I asked for his stand on abortion, he frowned, pouted and asked me to turn the recorder off. He didn’t really have an opinion – what the hell was mine? It was a very human moment.”

Trump, of course, is about the Party of Trump more than the GOP. But in his heart of hearts, Trump could actually be unaffiliated.