The reaction of Republicans in Colorado was mixed on the news that Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out of the presidential race. That leaves New York businessman Donald Trump as the apparent nominee. And he has rattled the GOP establishment… As Bente Birkeland reports from the state capitol, there’s a lot of political calculating going on from Republicans as well as Democrats.
When Republicans in Colorado assembled last month to put their support behind a presidential candidate, the message was clear. We want Cruz. Senator Kevin Grantham (R- Canyon City) was disappointed that Trump is on his way to win GOP nomination.
“You can’t not be, when you’re backing one horse and the other one wins.”
It seems a tough road ahead for Trump to heal wounds like these in Colorado where Cruz swept the convention delegates. Grantham is no supporter of the Democratic candidates, but just doesn’t trust Trump.
“He supports many of the things that we oppose, and he’s changed his opinion on many of these things over the course of his candidacy. There’s still a deep divide that’s going to have to be dealt with in our party. I look forward to him proving his conservative credentials that he claims to have.”
Grantham isn’t alone. Several Republicans expressed qualms with Trump.
“He’s the lesser of the evils but my fear about him is just that he has no patience to deal with the Congress, and that he would be executive order on steroids,” said Representative Kathleen Conti (R-Littleton).
But what alternatives do Republicans have at this point?
“I’m hearing growing support for Gary Johnson,” said Conti as she laughed boisterously.
Johnson was the Libertarian Party nominee for President in the 2012 election.
“I’m frankly disappointed as an American in both parties and their candidates,” said Representative Yeulin Willett (R-Grand Junction). He said at this point that he’s not even sure he will vote for a presidential candidate from either party in November.
“I put a lot of credence in track record, credibility, and trust, and I don’t have it with either one of them.”
Of course he’s assuming that Hillary Clinton will best Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination. Still, Trump has his fans in Colorado.
“The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the blue collar people, the people out there working 8 to 5, they’re not happy with what’s happening in DC right now,” said Representative Don Coram (R- Montrose).
Coram feels Trump can bring that change, another draw for him — the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.
“I’m more comfortable with Donald Trump than I am Hillary Clinton in choosing what I consider a more middle of the road Supreme Court, that actually rules on legal issues rather than on political views.”
Even Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper gives Trump some points. Hickenlooper said Trump has tapped into deep frustrations among some working class Americans.
“There’s just a lot of people feel the system is rigged. A great many people in the middle, they feel there’s nothing in it for them,” said Hickenlooper. “I think his success is a reflection of that frustration. I don’t think he’s the right choice.”
But other Democrats, like Senator Jessie Ulibarri of Westminster, offer sharpened criticism of Trump. He notes that a reality TV star is closing in on the office of the President of the United States. But hopes voters will deny Trump.
“We want a great place for our kids to grow up in, that isn’t a place that’s inspired by fear and hatred and division,” said Ulibarri. “We’re responsible for our current political reality, and we all have an ability to change the course of human events by our participation, by showing up.”
What’s happening with Republicans might next happen with Democrats. Many Colorado Democrats backed Sanders at their state convention… but Clinton is poised to win the nomination. As one prominent Democrat, Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, said… “All elections are unpredictable until the votes are counted, and that will be the case for this one.”