Danny Stroud breaks the mold in Colorado

Danny Stroud breaks the mold in Colorado

Danny Stroud is an independent. Until quite recently, Stroud was a registered Republican.

He ran unsuccessfully in 2012 against Democrat Dianne DeGette for the seat in Colorado’s Congressional District 1.

Rep. DeGette is a reliable Democrat vote, somewhat to the left even among Democrats. She was first elected in 1996. Her campaign endorsements and contributors include the usual liberal suspects; prominent among them are the pharmaceutical and health care industries. She won in 2012 with almost 64% of the vote, down from 67% in 2010. Stroud earned 25%. Stroud calls her “a reliable member of the ruling class.”

So what makes Stroud think he can win this time around?

First, he says, the two major political parties have been losing registrations at a rate of about 3% a year. It’s a trend that shows people are fed up with both parties. It’s a trend he has joined himself by registering independent and running as “an unaffiliated ‘citizen candidate’” as he says on his website.

The 1st Congressional District encompasses the heart of Denver but also stretches northeast into Arapahoe County and southwest into Jefferson. Stroud points out that he beat DeGette in Jeffco and did well against her in Arapahoe. He also thinks that the 2012 redistricting has made the district more competitive. Indeed, Democrats did open the door at least a little in order to redraw Rep. Mike Coffman’s CD-6 more favorably to them.

Why not remain Republican?

Stroud says that the last few years have made it clear to him that the Colorado Republican Party isn’t interested in fighting for the CD-1 seat. The past 50 years have seen one-party rule in the district. So he started the groundwork about a year ago and collected 2500 signatures to get on the ballot; he only needed 800.

He believes there is a silent majority of conservative voters in Colorado—even in Denver. He may be right. Even in the presidential election year of 2012 only 65% of registered voters turned out. He believes that majority of people don’t resonate with either party; that they still favor republican government but are fed up with the federal government trying to regulate every aspect of their lives.

Simply too many people don’t vote because they have been convinced by the establishment that it is futile. – Danny Stroud

Although Stroud has a general liberty orientation, he does not identify with the Tea Part movement. He perceives the Tea Party as socially conservative. He believes that issues such as marijuana legalization and gay marriage are issues to be left up to the states, not just banned outright—and certainly not mandated by an overreaching federal government.

The Republican Party of Colorado is clearly at war with their mostly conservative grassroots base. The party did little to support the recall elections in 2013, and they are doing little to help Senators Rivera and Herpin retain their seats. Chairman Ryan Call has a very narrow definition of “winnable.”

There is a Republican candidate for CD-1, Martin Walsh. In some ways, his stands on the issues seem similar to Stroud’s. Walsh has no political experience. Libertarian candidate Frank Atwood is also on the ballot again.

Stroud’s play is gutsy. There has been an ongoing debate in Colorado grassroots circles about whether it is better to reform the party from within or, that not being possible, whether leaving the party is a better choice. Individuals are leaving the party. Stroud is the first candidate to do so.

It will be fascinating to watch whether Stroud’s gamble will pay off. Will he be able to reach those disaffected and under-represented voters? Will he do as well or better than he did as a Republican? Will he do as well as the Republican candidate?

We’ll know on November 4th.