Colorado Republicans elected a new chairperson to serve as the face of their party over the weekend. Dave Williams edged out six other candidates to take the top spot after several rounds of voting.
Roughly 400 Republicans participated in central committee elections to select the new chairperson.
Williams will now serve as the face and primary spokesperson of the Colorado GOP and will be tasked with bringing the party together to determine its direction moving forward.
“It's a bad day for Democrats. We got new leadership, we're going on offense, and we're not going to let them get away with their corruption or they're out-of-touch policies that are way extreme and out of line with the public,” he said.
His election comes on the heels of a particularly bad showing for the GOP during the 2022 midterm elections. Republicans were hoping to see big gains legislature and even win the Senate chamber while also edging out Democrats in statewide elections for secretary of state, attorney general and governor.
However, Democrats not only managed to win all of the statewide seats but also earned a supermajority in the House and a near supermajority in the Senate.
In an interview with Denver7, Williams said he is up for the challenge of rebuilding the Republican Party and bringing it back to prominence in the state.
“Ultimately in the speech I gave, it was very clear for me that we're going to war. This is a political war, and there's a lot a lot of things at stake for our state," he said. "We can't have these policies continuing on. There's too much harm that the taxpayers are suffering."
Williams is a former state representative who served for three terms in the House. During his time there, he ran several anti-abortion bills and was known for being one of the most conservative voices in the Colorado State Capitol.
In 2022, he mounted an unsuccessful primary campaign against U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, losing by roughly 13,500 votes. Two other candidates were also challenging Lamborn in that race.
During that primary, Williams tried to have his name appear on the ballot as Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams however a Denver judge denied the request on political grounds.
For years, Williams has been an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump and has denied the results of the 2020 election. Last April, Williams even spoke at an "election truth rally" hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in Denver.
“I told the central committee I am who I am. I'm the most conservative candidate in the race, I make no bones about that. I don't apologize for it. But ultimately, if we're going to win, we shouldn't be ashamed of who we are,” Williams told Denver7 about his record.
Instead, the pitch he made to fellow Republicans over the weekend was to no longer allow his party to stand in a defensive posture, but to go on the offensive and start pointing out the records and shortcomings of those in the Democratic Party.
He agrees that some of the national political discourse is affecting Colorado, but says his priority is to speak to the plight of average Colorado voters who are just trying to make ends meet for their family in order to make inroads in the state. That means coming up with concrete plans for how Republicans plan to resolve some of the key issues affecting voters’ lives.
At the same time, Williams says he wants to close the Republican primaries going forward so that unaffiliated voters are not allowed to participate in picking the nominees for future elections, blaming the Democrats for meddling in the GOP process.
“We do need to close the primaries. This is a big deal. Democrats have funneled lots of money into meddling in our primaries, even went so far as to have individuals who are Democrats switch to unaffiliated so that they can meddle in the Lauren Boebert primary with Don Corum. That kind of stuff is unacceptable,” Williams said.
While it is true that more unaffiliated voters participated in the 2022 Republican primary than ever before at more than 231,000, Boebert handily won her primary, earning nearly two times as many votes as her primary challenger.
Still, Williams insists that having an open primary means strong, conservative candidates are being edged out unfairly.
The challenge with closing the primary, however, will be trying to win the support of those unaffiliated voters in the general election after disinviting them from the initial stages of the election process. Unaffiliated voters make up nearly 45% of the electorate in Colorado currently.
“We've done it before, right. We've had closed primaries before, and we still had to appeal to unaffiliated voters. Nothing's going to change,” Williams insisted.
Another challenge Williams faces is infighting between those in the GOP playing out publicly, both on a local and state level. For some, the divisions within the party have only become more exacerbated in the wake of the 2022 election, causing them to take a step back from the GOP.
Williams admits that there is a bit of an identity crisis going on within the party, but he blames that on those who want to bring the GOP closer to the center or the left. However, he rejects the idea of moving the party further left to win over voters.
Historically, Republicans and Democrats have a record of primarily passing bipartisan legislation in the statehouse. While Williams says he wants to see his party reach across the aisle on policies they agree with, he’s not willing to compromise in other areas.
“We're going to vigorously fight against policies that we know are not going to be good for Coloradans, and if that means a little less bipartisanship, okay, that's fine,” he said.
The question now is whether this new strategy will propel the party forward in the state and whether Williams — as divisive a figure as he’s become in the GOP — will be able to bring different factions of the party together to do that.