More than 450 delegates, alternates, volunteers and GOP party faithful filled the agriculture building at the fairgrounds in Kiowa on March 19 for the Elbert County Republican Assembly.
Hoping to build from a record turnout of 722 registered Republicans who attended the March 1 county caucuses, the delegates cheered speeches from candidates running in statewide elections, nominated candidates for local commissioners races and voted on resolutions emerging from the caucuses.
“This event, it’s a team sport,” said Republican Central Committee Chairman Tom Peterson. “There are so many who are involved and have been so supportive to put this event on.”
Following a series of speeches from Republicans running in statewide elections, party leaders and delegates got down to the business of nominating candidates.
The race for the District 1 county commissioner seat being vacated by Robert Rowland was uncontested, and Peterson called for a voice vote from delegates following Chris Richardson’s nomination.
Richardson is a retired Army colonel and serves as the secretary to the Elizabeth School District’s Board of Education.
For now, Richardson remains the presumptive Republican nominee to face Democrat Marie Soderberg in November, but he could still face a primary challenge from Jim Whistler in June.
Whistler elected to forego the county assembly in favor of petitioning to have his name added to the primary ballot. He has until April 4 to obtain roughly 625 signatures from registered Republicans in Elbert County to secure a spot in the primary election on June 28.
District 3 nominees Scott Wills and Grant Thayer, who are competing for the commissioner’s seat held by Larry Ross, both received enough delegate support at the assembly to move on to the primary elections in June.
Wills, who served as the Republican Central Committee chairman for nearly eight years, received his nomination from Elbert County Sheriff Shayne Heap. The nomination was seconded by George Brauchler, district attorney for the 18th Judicial District.
Wills received just over 56 percent support from the delegates (88 of 155) compared with the nearly 43 percent (67 of 155) for Thayer.
Thayer has served as a member of the Elbert County Planning Commission, has extensive experience in the oil and gas industry, and is the owner and operator of the Jumping Cow Ranch.
The winner of the District 3 primary in June will face democrat Barbara Miller in November’s general election.
In addition to nominating candidates, delegates voted on six resolutions offered at the county caucuses on March 1.
The delegates considered resolutions regarding court adjudication, Second Amendment rights, opposition to Amendment 69 (Colorado Care), a conditional article imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government, reinstating presidential primaries in Colorado, and respect for others in the conduct of political campaigns.
The approved resolutions will be forwarded to the State Assembly in Colorado Springs for consideration.