Opinion | Tony Jones: Looking ahead to the November elections

With the primaries and Independence Day behind us, it gives us a chance to catch our breath and think about what comes next. Congratulations are in order for Summit County candidates who won their elections. Congratulations also to the county staff who run the elections and ensure an accurate count of all votes cast. It’s these dedicated individuals and their staff who make the miracle we call Election Day work as well as it does. 

Many Democratic candidates across the state ran unopposed and there wasn’t much drama associated with their elections. However, on the Republican side the Colorado GOP was having an existential moment in which opposing sides, let’s call it the establishment vs. the election deniers, faced off in intraparty rivalry that would decide which faction would represent their party in the generals. 

As I’ve mentioned before, I think non-Republicans, including unaffiliated voters, also had a dog in this GOP family squabble. Promoting serious policy-minded candidates to face off against incumbent Democratic candidates will do us all good. It’ll force candidates to focus on the things that matter to Colorado citizens and hopefully keep at bay the conspiracy theories and name calling that’s plagued elections for the last several cycles.

I also think we unaffiliated voters had something to do with this shift towards serious and electable Republican candidates that these primary results represent. This, despite Democratic PAC money working its hardest to get more extreme, and unelectable, Republicans promoted to the general election. It’s fitting that Independence Day came only a few days after this primary contest, for these primaries have been a testament to the strength of the unaffiliated movement. Unaffiliated voters are free of the ties that bind partisans to only one party’s candidates, regardless of their suitability for office, or the suitability of candidates from the other party. 

This movement is how we free our country from the tyranny of the minority. 

Ok, off that soapbox (for now) and on to what comes next. With moderate Coloradan Republican candidates pretty much sweeping their primary elections, the choices for the general election are becoming clear. We all need to do our due diligence in studying candidate policy positions and style, but in a perfect world, moderate candidates from either party shouldn’t be that far apart on policy, right? Given that, it might seem safe to continue to promote the Republican party and reward its tack towards moderation with general election votes.

A month or so back I might have agreed with that position and argued that we should give the GOP a chance to show what they can do for Colorado. But today, with Supreme Court decisions showing how achievable the more extreme goals of the conservative agenda are, I’m not so sure. Seeing what’s happening at the national level, where Republican moderates are consistently overshadowed by the more extreme members of the party, it makes one wonder if a centrist senator or congressman can truly bring a moderating influence to the party’s plank. Or, once safely ensconced in their new office, will they simply tow the party line, despite pledges to do otherwise?

Knowing the criticality of the issues at the national level, I don’t think we can afford to take a chance on moderate Republican candidates for national office. Voting Democratic for congress may deliver the rebuke the GOP deserves for the pursuit of policies that have gutted women’s reproductive rights and promoted a gun culture that would take us back to the anarchy of the wild west. 

Joe O’Dea appears to be a qualified candidate for federal office, but he may end up being collateral damage in Colorado thanks to backlash against his party due to Supreme Court rulings. This needn’t be a black or white decision. In the generals, we’re all able to vote either party and voters should take advantage of that and vote without regard to party affiliation. Voting a split ticket, Republican at the state level and Democratic at the national level, may deliver a message to national Republicans while balancing out the liberal leanings that we’ve seen lately in Colorado state government. Vote your conscience but vote with an understanding of what’s at stake for our county, state and country.

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