Republicans suffered sweeping losses nationally and in Colorado, but not so in Douglas County. Here, party leaders say 95 percent of active registered Republicans voted, helping clinch Mike Coffman's U.S. House seat and George Brauchler's election as district attorney.
Those results prove Douglas County remains a Republican stronghold, but they aren't reason enough to stay the course. Like Republicans across the country, local GOP members are taking stock and refocusing.
“We're down, but we're not out,” said Marsha Haeflein, president of Douglas County Republican Women.
The group scheduled “After Action Review” meetings later this month that will focus on lessons learned and working more effectively in the future.
“We're going to be starting to work right away,” Haeflein said. “We're looking forward to mid-terms, where we want to take back the House and Senate in Colorado.” Democrats retained their control of the state Senate in the 2012 election with a 20-15 majority, and took control of the House away from Republicans with a 37-28 Democratic majority.
That goal aside, Douglas County Republican Chairman Mark Baisley says the party needs to more clearly articulate its philosophy.
“I think we need to convey the message of what is in our party platform and why,” he said. “And not deliver that message in any kind of an accusing manner that makes anyone feel like they're being judged. I think that is not a balance that has been stricken well. What we really need to do is appeal to what is in everyone's DNA.”
For Baisley, that's the Declaration of Independence, particularly opening lines that declare “all men are created equal … endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights” and that government's purpose is to secure those rights.
“It didn't say Americans, Caucasians, North Americans or the Brits,” Baisley said. “I think that is exactly what makes the United States unique, the (idea of), `Let's build a government that reflects what our creator intended for us and how we should treat each other.'”
Baisley acknowledged Republicans face “big, hard issues,” including civil unions, immigration and abortion.
“The life issue is probably the hardest,” he said. “The goal of the party is to ensure the right of life to that unborn person, but we haven't figured out how we do that without also asking the mom to carry that baby to term when she doesn't want to. There's no goal to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body.
“How do we treat immigrants as equal, deserving of the same creator's rights as everyone else, but we also try to maintain sovereignty? I think we need to figure that out.”
Despite their difficulty, Baisley doesn't believe Republicans should or will step away from social issues.
“My response to that is let's all just join the Democratic Party; that would be far more expedient,” he said. “If we're in this for any reason at all, I think it's to try to ensure the rights endowed to us by our creator. You can't avoid the social matters while you're doing that.”
Both Haeflein and Baisley hope the party's high voter turnout and continued dominance will inspire party members elsewhere.
“We bucked the trend,” Baisley said. “We're Douglas County. We're going to assert our majority philosophy.”
About 47 percent of the county's registered voters identify themselves as Republicans, 20 percent as Democrats and 32 percent unaffiliated, according to the Douglas County Clerk and Recorder.
Differences in voting
• Amendment 64 (Marijuana)
Douglas County: 45% yes; 55% no
Statewide: 55% yes; 45% no
Douglas County: 36% Obama; 63% Romney
Statewide: 51% Obama; 46% Romney
Nation: 51% Obama; 48% Romney
• Congressional District 6
Douglas County: 60% Mike Coffman; 35% Joe Miklosi
Arapahoe County: 46% Coffman; 48% Miklosi
6th District: 48% Coffman; 45% Miklosi