The split among Colorado Republicans that may have started over Referenda C&D is apparently growing. Republicans split over C&D, with moderates such as Gov. Bill Owens and Colorado Sen. Norma Anderson supporting the measures over the objections of more hard-liners within the party. It seems, however, that the fissure the opened up last fall is growing into a full-scale crack. From

Republican former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell said Tuesday he will not run for Colorado governor this year, accusing conservative Republicans of driving away good candidates. “You can’t be held to a strict ideological code that you can’t do anything about,” said Campbell, 72, a former Democrat who was the only American Indian in the Senate from 1992 to 2004.

“What they want is absolute obedience,” said Campbell, who became a Republican in 1995. He refused to name the GOP leaders…

…Earlier Tuesday two moderate Republicans in the Colorado Legislature also cited politics in key decisions: Rep. Mark Larson decided not to run for state Senate, blaming arm-twisting by conservatives, and Sen. Norma Anderson resigned because “it has become too partisan for me.”

Independent pollster Floyd Ciruli said the GOP’s problems in Colorado could prevent Republicans from regaining control of the state House and Senate, which they lost in 2004 for the first time in 42 years.

Jeralyn already wrote about Campbell’s decision not to run for governor, but his sniping at Republican Party leaders is much more interesting in context with what some other Republicans are saying (as an aside, I am amazed at the coverage Campbell is getting for his statement that he won’t run for governor. I don’t know one political insider who was even considering Campbell as a candidate — nobody actually thought he was going to run for governor). State Sen. Norma Anderson announced Monday that she was stepping down from her post, and coupled with Rep. Mark Larson’s decision not to run for state senate in 2006, there is growing talk that moderate Republicans are fed-up with the ultra-conservative wing of the party. From The Rocky Mountain News:

Newly retired lawmaker Norma Anderson always referred to herself as an Eisenhower Republican, a conservative in search of solutions. But some Republicans referred to the longtime-Lakewood lawmaker as a “squish” and a RINO.

Such names reflect a growing split in the GOP that pits moderates against conservatives and fiscal Republicans against social-issue Republicans…

…Anderson abruptly resigned Tuesday before her 20th and final year in office, saying she is ready to move on. But she also was sick of partisan bickering and barbs from the more conservative wing of the party. And she isn’t alone in her frustration.

The same complaints have been echoed by Rep. Mark Larson, R-Cortez, who opted against running for the state Senate, and former U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Ignacio, who announced Tuesday he won’t run for governor.

This isn’t a problem that is unique to Republicans; the same thing can happen to Democrats if they get too much pressure to go to the far-left side of the party. But this is a big story worth watching, because if Colorado Republicans continue to implode like this, Democrats could have an easy time holding control of the state legislature.