The death of House Minority Leader Hugh McKean on Sunday will lead to a major leadership reshuffle, with every leadership position in the House Republican caucus now up for grabs.
The GOP caucus plans to hold its leadership reorganization on Nov. 10, days after the midterm elections.
In addition to the Minority Leader, the caucus will need a new Deputy Minority Leader, a member of the Joint Budget Committee, a Caucus Chair and a Caucus Whip.
Rep. Rod Pelton of Cheyenne Wells, the minority whip and third caucus member, is likely to win his race for the open seat in the Southeast Colorado Senate. Sources said on Tuesday that he would serve as Minority Leader until the start of the 2023 session on Jan. 9.
Falcon Rep. Tim Geitner, the deputy minority leader, resigned his seat last month, and a vacancy committee failed to find a two-month replacement over the weekend.
Caucus chairwoman Rep. Janice Rich of Grand Junction is expected to win her race for the state Senate seat held by term-limited Sen. Ray Scott.
Favorites for the top two positions are Rep. Colin Larson of Littleton as Minority Leader and Mike Lynch of Wellington as Deputy Minority Leader. Larson had been considering a run for the Joint Budget Committee, given that Rep. Kim Ransom of Littleton, the current caucus rep, is term-limited. But McKean’s death has changed who runs and for what.
Rose Pugliese, who is running for the seat held by Rep. Shane Sandridge of Colorado Springs, who opted not to run for another term, is on the shortlist for caucus chair. This could reflect the new look of the 2023 caucus, where two-thirds of the members will be first-time lawmakers.
Representative Richard Holtorf of Akron is also mentioned for the caucus whip.
As for JBC, Delta rep Matt Soper, who ran in 2020, said he wasn’t interested this time around. Since Larson had been the most likely to take the seat, a new candidate has yet to emerge.
The 2022 version of the House GOP caucus has 13 members, out of 24, who are not returning, either due to term limits, running for another elected office, or choosing not to seek another term in the Bedroom.
Of those 13, at least eight or nine were considered to be to the right of McKean who regularly challenged his leadership. They were aligned with Rep. Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, McKean’s predecessor as Minority Leader, as well as Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs. Eight of these nine will not return.
TRACER’s contributions show the work McKean and others in his caucus wing have put into campaigns for new House GOP members. Candidates for at least four of those eight seats received contributions from the political action committees of leaders controlled by McKean, Larson, Soper, and Representative Rod Bockenfeld of Watkins, the latter two considered part of the McKean wing .
Much of the work for McKean and his allies took place during the primaries — intended to support candidates who would likely be more aligned with their agenda. Every GOP House candidate who had a contested primary backed by the McKean wing won their races.
In addition, these leadership PACs, as they are called, have contributed to eight campaigns for Republicans hoping to snatch seats from Democrats, ranging from candidates in Durango-based House District 59 held by Rep. Barbara McLachlan; House District 26, held by Representative Dylan Roberts of Eagle, who is running for the Senate; and the Home District 38 seat in Littleton currently held by Rep. David Ortiz. All but two of the eight are ranked among the most competitive by the state redistricting commission.
A more cohesive GOP caucus will make life easier for their program in 2023, according to several members.
Lynch told Colorado Politics he was excited “by the quality of people coming in and seeing how well this caucus works together.”
“It’s an embarrassment of riches,” Larson said of the esteemed new class of freshman lawmakers.
With an expected addition of several seats, Larson said the new Republican caucus will be the culmination of McKean’s work over the past two years that “reflects his pragmatic, business-focused, low-tax, light-regulation philosophy.” ” and which adheres to the classic republican values.
“He was so excited for the future of the Republican caucus,” Larson said, adding that he was sad that McKean couldn’t see the end results of that work.
. death Hugh McKean shakes leadership so House GOP plans for Elections