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Will Colorado GOP Conventioneers Be Trendsetters?

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

Over the weekend, both the Colorado Republican and Democratic Parties held their state conventions.

The Democratic Convention was the uneventful President Obama pep rally that it was supposed to be. However, the Republican Convention wasn’t exactly the unity fest that Romney supporters had hoped for.

It seems that even though Rick Santorum suspended his campaign, and Ron Paul has yet to win one primary race, his Colorado supporters acted as if the race for the GOP nomination was still a three man race.

Supporters of Ron Paul and Rick Santorum were able to drum up enough support and organize themselves to win many of the prized delegates that will go on to represent Colorado at the Republican National Convention in Tampa in September.

Santorum and Paul supporters won 13 of the 18 primary delegate slots for the convention based on their convention day strategy to create a conservative unity slate that obviously struck a chord with Colorado convention attendees.

This is not likely to upset the Tampa party for Mitt Romney in a way that will threaten his nomination. He is the presumptive nominee and only he can stop that from happening.

However, what the Colorado GOP conventioneers show is that Tampa might not be the love fest that most national conventions turn out to be.

Even though Mitt Romney won the majority of the primary races, he won very few caucuses. The caucus system, like the one the Colorado held, brings out the passionate die hard party members who are willing to attend rallies and make their voice heard.

State conventions usually bring out those very same kinds of people. And it’s those kinds of people that are going to make the national convention more interesting.

I don’t think every state convention is going to see the kind of Ron Paul/Rick Santorum revolution that Colorado witnessed. But other conventions might see at least some of the Ron Paul/Rick Santorum crowd steal some of the momentum from Romney delegates.

The Paul/Santorum crowd know that they cannot take back the nomination, but they may be buoyed by the hope that they can keep up the pressure to push Romney to be more conservative. While staying conservative might make the rebels happy, it will be the death knell to his general election campaign.

So, the Colorado conventioneers offer the Romney campaign an important warning. The warning is that there may be a formidable force in Tampa hoping to drive the conversation toward conservative issues. Colorado has shown that the force may also be organized and willing to do whatever it takes to make their voice heard.

One of the last things Mitt Romney wants is to arrive at a National Convention that pushes him too far right, in front of the national press with only a few weeks before the election.

But another thing Romney does not want to see is any large crowd at his own convention booing any of his stances or surrogates who will speak before him in the week. If a divided party becomes the headlines from the RNC, then the entire effort would be a waste of time and resources.

The political upset that the Ron Paul/Rick Santorum crowd pulled off at the Colorado GOP Convention won’t be replayed exactly in Tampa. However, even though Mitt Romney’s nomination is safe, the Colorado GOP convention has showed that his national convention, and how it will affect his election chances, is not entirely safe.

He would be wise to learn the lessons from Colorado and find some solutions well before he arrives to the Sunshine State in September.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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