Colorado Republicans didn’t show John McCain much love in the time of caucus earlier this year, when party faithful instead overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney for president. McCain was a distant second to Romney in the Centennial State, though that obviously didn’t stop him from winning the nomination. But another Republican candidate–Ron Paul–could end up being a spoiler for the McCain/Palin ticket, especially in battleground states like Colorado.
Paul grabbed about nine percent of the Republican caucus vote in Colorado. If that percentage of GOP voters go for Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr, Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, or even Ralph Nader (not to mention casting write-in votes for Paul), McCain could have a hard time keeping the state red.
On September 10, Paul announced he would not endorse McCain for president and instead encouraged his fanatic backers to seek out third-party candidates who align with the values his “revolution” has championed, including a cessation of the federal income tax, opposition to the Federal Reserve, and a non-interventionist foreign policy.
Paul hasn’t lost much steam among his disciples since bowing out of the election this summer. At the Republican National Convention, he spoke to more than 10,000 people at his Rally for the Republic.
Carl Bruning, of Fort Collins, was in Minnesota for the Paul event and claims that no one on the arena floor even sat down during Paul’s 45-minute speech. Bruning is one of two state co-coordinators for Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, which seeks to carry the Texas Congressman’s platform–free markets, constitutional law, and a minimal role for government–beyond his presidential run.
“There’s a focus on politics at the local level, with a mission to retake the Republican Party and get it back to its roots,” Bruning says.
In Colorado, Bruning points to “liberty-minded” candidates, such as George Lilly, the Republican challenger, whom Paul has endorsed, to Congresswoman Diana DeGette . Lilly has his work cut out for him in the state’s left-leaning First Congressional District. The larger question is whether Paul supporters in Colorado will turn their backs on McCain and the Republicans, and help Barack Obama win the state.
Bruning says he’s not sure who he’ll vote for come November. He adds that Paul revolutionaries come from a wide-ranging political base, including independents, registered Democrats and Republicans, and Libertarians and Constitution Party members.
Doug “Dayhorse” Campbell, chair of Colorado’s American Constitution Party, says party membership has grown about 10 percent a month over the past year, but that amounts to a total of only about 1,000 registered members. While he’s encouraged by the interest in his party–stirred by Paul–he’s not convinced that Colorado’s electoral fate will be determined by one bloc of voters.
“You have Ralph Nader and other more liberal candidates doing just as much spoilership as Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr are doing on the Republican side,” Campbell says.
In Montana, another Western swing state that traditionally leans Republican, Paul is on the ballot as the Constitution Party candidate.