Dick Wadhams has dropped out of the race for Republican Chair, leaving State Senator Ted Harvey to fight it out with attorney Ryan Call (and perhaps others). Some have misleadingly attributed the shift to the Tea Parties.
Nobody can claim authority to speak for the Tea Parties as a whole, particularly with respect to Wadham’s performance. The Tea Parties are a large, diverse, and disorganized group, and many Tea Partiers aren’t even Republicans, much less party activists with a stake in the race for chair. (While I have attended numerous Tea Party events, for instance, I am registered unaffiliated.)
Moreover, Harvey hardly epitomizes Tea Party values of limited government and fiscal restraint, having instead earned his reputation as a big-government social crusader. While I do not deny that many self-proclaimed Tea Partiers embrace big-government social conservatism, the ideals of economic liberty and constitutionally limited government are closer to the heart of the Tea Party movement.
For those reasons, the movement to promote Harvey over Wadhams can hardly be said to be about the Tea Parties. I’m sure that many self-proclaimed Tea Partiers support Harvey and at the same time dislike Wadhams, but I’m equally sure that many Tea Partiers dislike both men equally or even favor the latter.
Contrary to deceptive claims by leftist “journalists,” Wadhams did not “slam” the Tea Party in his statement about dropping out.
Instead, Wadhams said,
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.
Wadhams told Lynn Bartels: “I have loved being chairman, but I’m tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party’s role is.”
Note that Wadhams apparently is referring also to supporters of Dan Maes, whom many Tea Partiers initially supported but later abandoned in droves.
Meanwhile, it’s not as though Wadhams is some tax-and-spend leftist;Vincent Carroll reminds us that he has spent his career working to elect (relative) fiscal conservatives.
What about Harvey? As Bartels summarizes, he “has made abortion and immigration issues the cornerstones of his career.”
Let’s look briefly at what motivates Harvey. In 2004, Harvey sponsored legislation trying to dictate how bookstores display “explicit materials.” Harvey is also quite interested in restricting the rights of Coloradans to hire the employees of their choice, if they happen to be from out of the country.
The cause that seems to most animate Harvey is outlawing abortion. “Ted firmly believes that it is his duty as a legislator to defend the innocent unborn,” i.e., to outlaw abortion. Harvey also touts on his web page, “Ted received the Legislator of the Year award from Colorado Right to Life in 2003.” This is an organization that wants to totally ban abortion and ban all drugs and procedures that might prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, including the birth control pill. In announcing his candidacy for state senate, Harvey said, “Until my last breath, I will always champion life from conception to natural death” — though his anti-abortion stance undermines the lives and liberties of women.
True, Harvey is relatively pro-liberty on issues like guns, taxes, and selecteconomic controls. Yet I fear that Harvey will animate the religious right of his party and alienate unaffiliated voters and Republican secularists. A “Harvey Party” may well entrench the losing strategy of Ken Buck of leading with anti-liberty social controls. Nothing could be more disastrous for the Republican Party in this Interior West state where people tend to want government out of our wallets as well as our bedrooms.