AnneLandmanBlog has obtained video of western slope conservatives meeting at a local restaurant December 20, 2013 to pressure former Palisade Police Chief Carrol Quarles to run against State Senator Steve King for Mesa County Sheriff.* King is the candidate the Mesa County Republican Party has selected to run for Sheriff in the upcoming 2014 election. Quarles was fired from his position as police chief by the town of Palisade in October, 2012.
Attending the meeting are Harry Talbott of Talbott Farms, J.J. Fletcher, a current candidate for House District 54, Ron Bain, publisher of the Western Slope Watchdog, Max Smith, who was recently first vice chair of the Mesa County Republican Party, and Kevin McCarney, a past second vice chair of the Mesa County Republican party. Three attendees are former high-up representatives of the Mesa County Republican Party who have now all fled the party and are actively working to recruit alternative, hard right-wing candidates for office.
In the video, Kevin McCarney, who now heads the tea party group Freedom!Colorado, says of the local GOP, “I see this party in the county as trying to tell us who they are going to run, instead of having the people tell them who they want to run. They’ve scared people out of the Sheriff’s race, the Commissioners race, they’ve scare people out of the party. This county’s in trouble if Steve King’s our sheriff…We haven’t gotten anything out of him in the state Senate except for terrible bills…The man is clueless, literally clueless.”
In the video, Quarles tells the group, who is desperate to find someone to run against King, that he is not interested in running for sheriff. He explains that Mesa County Sheriff is a big job, encompassing the Department of Corrections, Search and Rescue and many other duties. He says that he is tired, burned out, has medical and psychological problems and is simply not up to holding the position of Sheriff. The group continues to pressure him to run, though, saying with a good enough support team, he could do the job.
The video shows the growing schism within the Mesa County Republican Party and the continuing erosion of the “old guard” Mesa County GOP machine, which in the past has enjoyed almost free reign to select candidates and then install them in office with little if any challenge. The old-guard GOP’s power and influence appears to be waining, however, as they continue to shed formerly loyal followers and the candidates they select deteriorate in quality. A candidate the local GOP backed for City Council last spring, Rick Brainard, was arrested and convicted of beating up his girlfriend just days after winning the election. Brainard finally stepped down from Council in July, 2013. Not one of the three candidates the GOP backed for school board won last November, and Steve King — the candidate they’ve now selected for sheriff — appears to be winning little enthusiasm from either the political left or right in Mesa County.
The video reinforces that conservatives of all types in Mesa County are continuing to have increasing difficulty finding and recruiting qualified candidates for office. The Mesa County GOP has a long track record of churning out political misfits and wackos who have helped turn the western slope into the laughingstock of the state. In 2006, while running for Lieutenant Governor on a ticket with Bob Beauprez, former Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland embarrassed Mesa County residents by equating homosexuality with bestiality on a state-wide TV show, “Colorado State of Mind.” Another former Mesa County Commissioner, Craig Meis, gained notoriety for his repeated Barney Fife-like attempts to use his elected office to get out of minor legal infractions. The Mesa County Republican Party also backed Jared Wright, who ran successfully for Colorado House District 54. After he was nominated, though, the Daily Sentinel revealed that Wright, who ran as a fiscal conservative, had undergone personal bankruptcy and been fired from his job at the Fruita Police Department after an internal affairs investigation “revealed a pattern of dishonesty.” Mesa County Republicans also backed Scott McInnis in his ill-fated run for governor against John Hickenlooper. McInnis was forced to quit the race after he was outed for committing plagiarism.
*G.J. Result/Tea Party does not share the views expressed in the video and did not participate in this meeting.