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This week’s meeting of the Chaffee County Republicans found them electing their third set of leaders in a year. The leadership that has stepped down was just elected in February. The move comes just before the Colorado GOP votes today on whether or not it will hold a 2022 Colorado Primary.

The Chaffee GOP Facebook page featured this photo of parade lineup for the 2019 4th of July event: note the renovation in progress on the historic cupola of the courthouse museum, which was restored last summer.

Chair Rebecca Seaman announced her resignation for personal reasons and Secretary Robbie Von Lintel stepped down as well. As the meeting began, this made member Mike Phelps acting chair/vice-chair, and secretary but in reality, he was/is the treasurer of the Chaffee County GOP.

Newly elected leaders of the Chaffee Republicans included: Chair Alan Seeling, Vice-Chair Gary Neely, and Tom McCracken as secretary, with Phelps continuing as treasurer.

Seeling, who this week was still a current officer of the Chaffee County Patriots announced that he would resign as an officer of that group, but would stay involved. He’s a geologist by training, but also worked at the Buena Vista Corrections Complex for several months. “I never did want to get involved in politics but this last few years after retiring decided to step up and volunteer.” He added that he’s planning to reach out to the community.

Neely, a former Marine, was born and raised in Oklahoma and moved to Salida 12 years ago. He describes himself as very conservative and deeply concerned about the direction of the country.

McCracken, was a former high school principal before moving here, and while he indicates he retired, he has been called into service to teach high school math. He first lived in the county in the 1980s, when he worked at Frontier Ranch.

Some meeting attendees said that it wasn’t clear how the new officers were selected, or whether the Chaffee Republicans had actually announced ahead of time that the organization would be seeking new leadership. Seeling indicated that “things are going to change.”

It was also announced that  Jennifer Adamson, Abby Jefferson, and Cathy Rich are running for Salida School Board.

An election integrity resolution that Seeling said was provided by Douglas County last June was on the meeting agenda, but it was tabled and not voted upon in the meeting. He indicated that “audits done by other states have blown up”.

He also commented that there were questions about the state’s election equipment saying ” No one knows if there is wireless on machines (apparently referring to the state’s voting machines) and saying the GOP “wants to get hold of all the sheriffs in all the counties.”

The Chaffee County GOP continues to make claims of voter fraud, which have ramped up since the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. No evidence of fraud has been presented, or found except the ballot cast by Barry Morphew on behalf of his missing wife Suzanne Morphew.

The group discussed today’s Colorado GOP vote deciding whether to support a Colorado GOP primary for the next election. The county has three votes. “Supporters of opt-out feel that Democrats and unaffiliated are diluting primaries,” said Phelps. “We should just have a caucus with candidates all picked by caucus.”

Others pointed out that caucuses aren’t well attended and that the selected candidate may not appeal to the rest of the voting public. Still others said that eliminating the primary (which in this state now allows unaffiliated voters to vote in the primary) risked the possibility of a block of voters feeling disenfranchised. Others say that the influence of a national group of moderate GOP members who spent heavily in the 2020 election would have undue influence and that influence is a valid reason to sack the 2022 primaries and keep the decision in-house.

That group, called Unite America, which operates state and federal political action committees, did get involved in Republican legislative primaries last year. They backed candidates for several open seats who were seen as less conservative. The group spent nearly $456,000 in Colorado, supporting three GOP state House candidates and two Republican state Senate candidates.