Colorado’s GOP delegates look forward to Tampa

The Colorado Statesman

Colorado’s 36 delegates and 33 alternates to the upcoming Republican National Convention — and their guests — luxuriated for a couple hours last Saturday afternoon at a stately and magnificent Tuscan-style villa in the heart of Republican-laden Greenwood Village. Sipping wine and enjoying a lovely array of fancy hors d’oeuvres passed by several servers, they gazed out on the expansive manicured landscape with its inviting pool and fountain. The eclectic delegation relished the peaceful surroundings at the private home of a Republican supporter as they learned about the activities slated for their five day trip to hot and sticky Tampa, Florida to nominate the GOP candidate for president.

Bev Stewart, right, is the aide to the Colorado Republican delegates and will be accompanying the group to Tampa. She manned the table at last weekend’s event in Greenwood Village, checking in delegates and alternates and making sure everyone had their special 2012 delegate button, part of a limited edition of only 100.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

The second informal get together for delegates and alternates was organized by Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway, a pledged delegate for former Republican contender Rick Santorum. Conway was elected chairman of the entire delegation at the state assembly in April, defeating Republican State Chairman Ryan Call, an early supporter and delegate for Mitt Romney. Conway has pledged his support to presumptive Republican nominee Romney as soon as the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania officially releases his delegates — which he is expected to do sometime before or during the convention which begins on Aug. 27.

Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway, chairman of the Colorado Republican delegation, watches approvingly as delegate Katie Witt, a Longmont City council member, models a Western shirt similar to one of two specially designed for delegates to wear at the Tampa convention — only they will be in red and white, not pink. The delegate attire was previewed at last weekend’s second get together of delegates and alternates at a private estate in Greenwood Village.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

Conway, who attended the Republican National Convention in Detroit as a budding young politico back in 1980, has had to carefully navigate the landmines of not only the changing national political landscape with Romney and his GOP competitors earlier on, but also the internal politics of the split delegation, with delegates for Santorum and Dr. Ron Paul together outnumbering committed Romney delegates in the state.

Dudley Brown and Guy Short from Weld County are part of the Colorado delegation to Tampa.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

Conway has tried his best to disarm some of the latent hostilities among the competing camps, and the timing of Saturday’s event a few short hours after the announcement of Paul Ryan as the vice presidential standard bearer couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

Sen. Kevin Grantham, a delegate from Cañon City, and his wife Caroline show off their t-shirts bearing the Romney-Ryan logo.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

Unpledged delegate Guy Short, the former chief of staff for Marilyn Musgrave when she served in Congress from Colorado’s CD 4, was indicative of others there that day, voicing his pleasure with the Ryan selection. He said he was supportive of the ticket, and felt that the inclusion of Ryan went a long way to smooth over some of the unhappiness of non-Romney delegates.

Former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens proudly poses with daughter Monica Owens, a delegate to the national convention and head of the Women for Romney campaign in the state.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

Likewise, as Romney campaign finance co-chairman (and Mitt Romney’s nephew) Doug Robinson would relay at the event, he’d been receiving very positive reaction from across the Republican spectrum about the Romney-Ryan political link-up.


Alternate delegate and president of the Denver Metro Young Republicans Ryan Massfeller with his young son, Sam, pose with State Treasurer (and delegate) Walker Stapleton and his young daughter, one-year-old Colette (call her Coco) Stapleton. Saturday’s informal party for delegates, alternates and guests was held at a Republican supporter’s private home in Greenwood Village.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

There are still rumblings among a few stalwart Paul and Santorum delegates about a couple of matters, such as Ryan Call’s elevation to the Credentials Committee [see this week’s front page story by Ernest Luning], as well as a junior high school-ish flare-up over a Facebook account established to foster the dissemination of information about the convention to Colorado delegates and alternates. Apparently someone reported the Facebook host in Weld County for asking people she didn’t know to be Friends — and it forced the delegate and social media enthusiast to have to cancel all her remaining Friends requests. [“Thanks for that,” penned the disgruntled host sarcastically in a newsletter which was mailed to delegates this week.]

Weld County GOP Chair and delegate Karen Pelzer, right, has been working alongside delegation chairman Sean Conway.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

But this second get together seemed a lot more copasetic than the first delegate party in July, which was less well attended and clearly more tense.

With the major decisions about the party’s presidential and vice presidential nominees pretty much in the bag, most of the remaining business of the national convention will likely be conducted by the Platform, Rules and Credentials Committees in the days leading up to the official start of the RNC. [Delegates Sue Sharkey and Guy Short are Colorado’s members on the Platform Committee; Florence Sebern and Dudley Brown are on the Rules Committee; and Karen Pelzer and Ryan Call are on the Credentials Committee].

Barring any controversy which could still erupt at the carefully choreographed four-day convention, the delegates will get to hear a host of keynote speakers, chosen in part for their ability to present uplifting and unifying messages scripted by the GOP. The announced speakers as of Aug. 14 include South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Arizona Sen. John McCain, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, former U.S. Sen. Santorum, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Republican U.S. Senate nominee Ted Cruz, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, among others.

There will also be numerous opportunities for visitors to the Sunshine State to see the sights and take in the local atmosphere of a sister swing state.

The Colorado Chairman’s Host Committee, led by Melissa L. Kuipers, an attorney and policy advisor at the Denver law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, is spearheading the Committee’s diligent planning over the past 10 months to ensure Colorado’s delegates maximize their opportunities for strategic partnerships at both state and national levels. [That’s a politically correct way of saying that there will be the possibility of some cozy relationships forged between the multitude of private companies and organizations which have targeted the delegates with sponsorship of events throughout the entire week.]

“Given the importance of Colorado in this presidential election, the Committee is thrilled with how these events will highlight the premier companies and industries our state champions,” said Kuipers. “The Committee fully capitalized on its potential, setting the stage for business and community leaders to affirm Colorado’s national and international value on a scale previously unseen.”

Among the notable events organized for delegates is a luncheon cruise around Tampa Bay aboard a private yacht, hosted by the above named law firm, FedEx Corporation, Level 3 Communications and CH2M Hill; a private concert performance by country music superstar Trace Adkins for the Colorado, Florida, Wyoming and South Dakota delegations, sponsored by Xcel Energy and WPX Energy; and a private concert performance by classic rock band Journey on the last night of the convention.

The festivities unofficially begin Sunday night, Aug. 26, with an invitation-only welcoming event in neighboring St. Petersburg.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. is sponsoring the first delegation breakfast on Monday at the accommodating hour of 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. in the Colorado delegate hotel. Delegates to the convention will don special Colorado-made red Western-style shirts and cowboy hats for the 1 p.m. official delegation photograph at the Times Forum Convention Center, where Reflections Photography out of Washington, D.C. has prepared a colorful backdrop of a Florida sunset for the souvenir group pictures.

The opening session of the convention begins at 2 p.m. and is the only double session of the week — it is scheduled to go on into late Monday evening.

But that clearly isn’t the end of the activities that night. Colorado delegates will join their counterparts from Texas at a party across the street at Jackson’s Bistro after that night’s session. The 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. hoopla will include a live band, food stations and an open bar, all courtesy of sponsor AT&T.

On Tuesday, the delegates from Colorado will be treated to the afore mentioned private lunch cruise on the Yacht Starship II.

Delegates and their guests will board special buses which will take them directly to the convention site for the official start-up of Tuesday night’s session. The free shuttle buses available throughout their stay are courtesy of America’s Natural Gas Alliance.

Colorado Republican delegates, alternates and guests will be treated after the evening session to a concert with C&W singing sensation Trace Adkins.

Wednesday starts off with a delegate brunch with Colorado Congressman Cory Gardner and Colorado General Assembly Leadership. Sponsors are the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association and the Colorado Mining Association. [Delegation chairman Conway hinted that lobster will be served and that it is not to be missed!]
Delegates will again dress in synch that evening, wearing a second color coordinated convention shirt — this one white — with the accompanying cowboy hats made by Greeley Hatworks, the same Colorado company which has outfitted George W. Bush in the past.

Thursday begins with another brunch for delegates and alternates sponsored by the Colorado Dairy Farmers and Koch Industries.

The last session of the convention — at which Mitt Romney will deliver his acceptance speech as the official GOP presidential nominee — will take place Thursday evening during prime time.

Afterwards, delegates will leave through a secured access to Liberty Plaza where they will be serenaded by Journey, an American rock band formed in 1973 in San Francisco by former members of Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch. The rock band is known for such classics as “Open Arms,” “Faithfully” and “Don’t Stop Believing,” the song popularized by Fleetwood Mac which became a trademark of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Journey’s rendition was re-popularized by Hillary Clinton in her own bid for president in 2008.

—Jody@coloradostatesman.com