Though he rarely made headlines, Republican Wayne Allard knew how to win a campaign, serving two terms in the U.S. Senate and three terms in the U.S. House. Newly retired from the political rat race, he discusses what he learned as a legislator and how the GOP can get back on track.
In recent years some Republicans lost sight of what the party is all about: holding down taxes and spending, limited government, individual freedom, a strong national defense, and the family as the main building block of society. We got off message and forgot what it was like to stick with an agenda.
Competition is good for both parties: It allows them to get more focused on their message and their goals. It takes [a setback like 2008] to pull the party together and for new leadership to emerge, and I believe it will and that we'll come back stronger. The next election will be a building year, but it probably will be two election cycles before we begin to see any marked results at the polls.
I don't plan on holding office or being a major force within the party. I'm going to try to let the party grow under new leadership. There are some rising GOP stars out there. I tend to favor my former staff people—Cory Gardner, Frank McNulty, Greg Brophy. Josh Penry on the Western Slope is doing a good job. And Mark Hillman's name is being floated as a possible Senate candidate.
I'm particularly proud of having worked with local governments in Colorado to provide more open space and to clean up many of the contaminated sites around the state. I carried legislation for more money to clean up Rocky Flats. We also helped clean up several other sites; we created a national park and wilderness and refuge areas, and expanded the Mesa Verde National Park. I'm also proud of my service on the Armed Services Committee, tending to the many programs that would help secure this country.
I'm disappointed that we didn't do more to put spending controls on Congress. We didn't get a balanced budget amendment passed. We temporarily put budget controls in place, but with 9/11 and Katrina those budget rules were allowed to slip and spending got out of control.
Now that Democrats are in power I think we'll see lots of spending and larger government, which will make Republicans understand the need to get back on message, because I don't think [the Democrats' approach] is going to work.
Democrats have a huge challenge, and I wish them well.
I do think our country will do better. We always come out of tough times.
Historically, Colorado has shifted between parties. I expect a shift back to Republican control, though I won't predict when. The people of Colorado are generally independent, and the time will come when they'll want to see more freedom and not less.
I'm setting up a consulting firm, Allard Associates LLC, focusing on business development and public affairs. We'll stay in touch with Republicans, probably as more of a cheerleader.
I welcome the opportunity and trust that the people of Colorado have bestowed on me, and I'm looking forward to moving on to a new chapter in my life.