Divided Colorado House GOP picks new minority leader

The Colorado House GOP caucus elected a new leader Monday amid a growing divide among the state’s Republicans about finding a new strategy to help Republicans win seats in a legislature that is controlled by Democrats.

After two rounds of voting, Rep. Hugh McKean of Loveland was selected as House minority leader, his supporters citing a need for change and leadership that understands each district’s needs are unique. McKean replaces Rep. Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, who decided not to seek another term in leadership following an internal battle about the caucus’ priorities.

The divide was evident as two people challenged McKean for the seat, including the assistant minority leader, Rep. Kevin Van Winkle of Highlands Ranch, and Rep. Tim Geitner of Falcon. Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs turned down a nomination for assistant minority leader after McKean won the top post, citing their different views.

But McKean said he wants to bring the caucus together and would listen to all opinions as the members craft a vision for January.

“I don’t think we put enough emphasis on how we win when we talk about the work we do away from elections,” McKean said.

He called the caucus intellectually diverse and said the work moving forward needs to focus on how to assist individual members in best representing their own districts.

“They’re your constituents. They’ are the ones that elected you,” he said. “It matters not what any one of the rest of us say about how we think that people should be aligned on an issue.”

Williams said he would keep an open mind, but in an interview said he “fundamentally disagrees” with McKean’s approach to being more collaborative with Democrats.

“I think the reason we’re losing elections is because the voters are being tricked and deceived by Democrats, and we need to do everything we can to expose that deception,” he said.

After losing the minority leader seat, Geitner — backed by Williams — was elected the assistant minority leader. Rep. Rod Pelton of Cheyenne Wells was selected as the House minority whip; Rep. Janice Rich of Grand Junction was elected as caucus chair; and Rep. Kim Ransom of Lone Tree was re-elected to the Joint Budget Committee.

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