Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced this week that he is running for mayor of Colorado Springs in 2015. Since he is term limited as Attorney General, Suthers’ announcement wasn’t a major surprise, but showed something important about the state of the GOP in Colorado, and more precisely, the state of the GOP bench.

My friend Jon Caldara is fond of saying that Colorado’s GOP doesn’t have a bench, it has a folding chair. It is a biting, funny and totally accurate estimate.

John Suthers is one of only three Republicans in Colorado that can say they have won two consecutive statewide elections in the 2000’s. The others are Mike Coffman and Donetta Davidson.

With Coffman running for re-election in the sixth Congressional District and Davidson not currently in the public eye, Suthers represents one of the stronger political leaders within the Colorado Republican Party.

If he succeeds in his quest for the top job in Colorado Springs, the Colorado GOP will only have untested candidates to run in statewide elections in 2016. If he fails, that’s even worse news.

I realize that we are in the heat of the 2014 election, but we all know that in politics, it’s always about the next election.

Needing to rely upon candidates without statewide election experience could end up being a good thing for Republicans, if it is handled the right way.

Cory Gardner is attempting an experiment with his “new kind of Republican” motto for his most recent campaign ads. If that experiment ends up being fruitful, that could become a theme for the new Republicans running for election in the next couple of years.

How the 2014 election turns out will mean everything for how the next crop of GOP candidates look like. If Gardner or Beauprez are successful in knocking off two popular incumbents, then recruiting and populating the GOP bench will be far easier. Nothing helps like momentum.

However, if Gardner and Beauprez are unsuccessful, Colorado’s GOP will find itself in a difficult spot. Recruiting new candidates without high profile statewide elected leaders or without any real momentum will be an uphill battle.

None of this analysis is rocket science or breaking news. But it is important to consider the impact of decisions like the one John Suthers made this week. Perhaps Cory Gardner and Bob Beauprez will make the point totally moot.

However, if they do not, this moment will become a watershed one for Colorado’s GOP, one where they were forced to really examine the next generation of statewide GOP candidates.

Dominic Dezzutti’s Latest Blog Entries

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 blog. Read new entries here usually 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 is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.


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