After a surreal year of GOP infighting in Colorado, the vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party is asking fellow Republicans to stop obsessing on state party leader Steve House--and to lay off attacking each other.
Calling the behavior of his fellow Republicans "beyond dysfunctional," Wilburn bemoaned in a Facebook post that "Chairman House can no longer give a speech, send an email or letter" to key Republican committees "without his words immediately being blared onto social media in full view of the entire political universe, both friendly and 'other'."
"His words are then dissected -again, in full view-- word-by-word, line-by-line in an effort to demonstrate his incompetence (at best) or corruptness (at worst), by members of our own party," wrote Wilburn. "When he speaks someone (a Republican) is recording with the intent of using his words against him. When he sends an internal memo, when we file with a compliance agency, when he emails county leadership, it's all posted to Facebook within minutes and used likewise."
Wilburn wrote that such scrutiny will not force House to resign, and if he is forced out, the party will suffer.
"Having some nine months of up-close & personal observation I can attest this much - Chairman House is not incompetent," wrote Wilburn prior to describing House's activities as state chair.
"Don't get me wrong, watch dog activity brings with it accountability. Questioning is a good thing," wrote Wilburn. "But there's a line. When we (Republicans) are the ones helping HuffPo, Colorado Pols and the rest fill up their libraries with talking points and things they can use against us in the future, it's time to question whether we're holding people accountable or doing more damage than good..."
In a sharp response to Wilburn's Dec. 28 letter, longtime Republican activist Marilyn Marks asked Wilburn for specifics about why her scrutiny of House should be curtailed.
"My over-riding question here---Did I write something inaccurate, or untrue?" asked Marks, who recently moved from Colorado to South Carolina, in a letter to Wilburn. "Or are you objecting to my writing true statements that the party does not like seeing published?"
Marks: "I see party officers here acting with irrational emotion because they are criticized for false financial reporting, financial mismanagement, flawed election processes, disparate application/violation of bylaws, and poor personnel decisions. If the criticism is unfounded, then answer it with facts. If the criticism is valid, then remedy the problem---don't attempt to just shoot the messenger. If I am wrong, tell me where I'm wrong on the facts I allege. I make plenty of mistakes. I'll correct errors immediately if you point them out."
After being challenged on Facebook by Marks and others, Wilburn wrote in another post:
Wilburn: "Steve House is our boy. Whether I like it, you like it, Juan Valdez or Pope Francis likes it or not is moot. He's carrying the baton on the final lap of this race. Watching closely is fine and good, but for Republicans to be actively sticking our feet out in an effort to trip him, I would argue, is counter-productive. When we show up at his speeches, record them, then post onto the internet with commentary that's something we'd expect from ColoradoPols - we're doing COPols' job for them. The old 'with friends like this who needs enemies?' comes to mind. This is not helpful."
Wilburn's comments come after years of upheaval within the Colorado Republican Party, as it has slowly lost power in the state, as chronicled not just by ColoradoPols but all media outlets in the Colorado.
For example, last year Colorado Republicans, led by former Rep. Tom Tancredo and State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, tried to oust State Chair House. Coffman is the wife of Rep. Mike Coffman.
Grassroots GOP activists claim that Republican Party mismanagement, in addition to unprincipled candidates, backed by powerful but clueless establishment interests, are the root cause of the GOP's problems.
Other Republicans argue that GOP activists and GOP base voters in Colorado, who take ardent conservative stands on an array of issues, are out of touch with mainstream Colorado opinion. These so-called liberty activists, they argue, scare off the swing voting bocs, like Hispanics and women, needed to win elections in this state.