Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams dropped his reelection bid on Monday, and fired some parting shots at the Tea Party and the hard-line conservatives he thinks are hurting the party’s electoral success.
“I have tired of those who are obsessed with seeing conspiracies around every corner and who have terribly misguided notions of what the role of the state party is while saying ‘uniting conservatives’ is all that is needed to win competitive races across the state,” Wadhams wrote in a memo to the Colorado Republican State Central Committee obtained by The Denver Post.
Wadhams oversaw Republican losses in both the Senate and gubernatorial races in Colorado last fall, races that the party could have conceivably won if the Tea Party-backed nominees in both races hadn’t committed some serious errors.
“I have loved being chairman, but I’m tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party’s role is,” Wadhams told the Post.
Wadhams claims to have had the votes lined up to win reelection, but wrote in his memo that a “uniting conservatives” strategy will “severely” undermine the party’s chances to lure swing voters in 2012.
Wadhams was once a rising star in the Republican Party. He managed successful campaigns for Sen. Wayne Allard and Gov. Bill Owens in Colorado, and Sen. Conrad Burns in Montana, then really made a name for himself helping Sen. John Thune (R-SD) upset then-minority leader Tom Daschle in 2004. In 2005, Slate dubbed him Karl Rove’s “heir apparent.” But in 2006, he served as chief of staff and campaign manager for the doomed reelection campaign of Sen. George Allen (R-VA), of “macaca” notoriety. And in 2008, he managed Bob Schafer’s losing Senate run in Colorado.
2010 could have been different for Wadhams. His party had a good shot at winning the gubernatorial race, and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) looked vulnerable. But the the front-runner in the gubernatorial race was undone by a plagiarism scandal before the primary, and the party’s nomination fell to the (initially at least) Tea Party-backed Dan Maes — who went on to have arguably the worst campaign of 2010. In the Senate race, Tea Party favorite Ken Buck beat the party’s preferred candidate, Jane Norton, in the primary. Buck was initially leading in the polls, but in the end could not overcome a series of gaffes and scandals that plagued his campaign in the closing days.
Wadhams told the Post he doesn’t know what his next career move will be.
Read Wadhams’ entire memo to the Colorado Republican State Central Committee:
It has been an honor and privilege to serve as Colorado Republican Chairman but after much reflection I have decided to not seek reelection.
I am very grateful to a clear majority of the members of the Colorado Republican State Central Committee who offered their support and encouragement over the past several weeks.
I entered this race a few weeks ago looking forward to discussing what we accomplished in 2010 and to the opportunities we have in 2012 to elect a new Republican president; to increase our state House majority and win a state Senate majority; and to reelect our two new members of Congress.
However, I have tired of those who are obsessed with seeing conspiracies around every corner and who have terribly misguided notions of what the role of the state party is while saying “uniting conservatives” is all that is needed to win competitive races across the state.
I have no delusions this will recede after the state central committee meeting in March. Meanwhile, the ability of Colorado Republicans to win and retain the votes of hundreds of thousands of unaffiliated swing voters in 2012 will be severely undermined.
For the past four years, I have devoted all of my professional time and energy to serving as state chairman and am very proud of what we accomplished in the face of unique and unprecedented challenges in both the 2008 and 2010 election cycles.
I will always remain humbled and grateful for the opportunity to travel this magnificent state where I was born and raised and to work with Republican leaders and elected officials in all 64 counties as state chairman.
(h/t Dave Weigel)
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com