DENVER (AP) — The Republican race for president appears settled, but Colorado Republicans are anything but united behind apparent nominee Mitt Romney.
On a second day of choosing delegates to the Republican National Convention on Friday, Colorado Republicans split their choices. Some candidates pledged to Romney advanced, while others who vowed to keep looking for a more-conservative alternative won, too.
The mood was rocky, with some activists cheering for delegate hopefuls who urged unity behind Romney, and others cheering just as loud for delegates who said they're not sold on Romney.
Nobody summed it up better than 78-year-old Dan Cleveland of Littleton, who voted in precinct caucuses for Santorum, who scored a surprise win in Colorado two months ago. Cleveland said he wants to see a candidate who is a combination of Santorum and Romney — "which we know we can't have."
Republicans met in groups by congressional district on Friday afternoon. Each district chose three delegates, though Romney appears certain to win the GOP nomination.
Some conservative Republicans said Romney has work to do to assuage the GOP's conservative base. Romney needs to shore up his conservative credentials to avoid a GOP repeat of Colorado's 2008 race — when the caucus winner was Romney, who dropped out and was bested by Sen. John McCain, who failed to charge up the party. As a result, Colorado voted for the Democratic presidential nominee for the first time in decades.
"Romney has a choice of which path to go — the McCain path, and lose, or the Reagan path, the conservative path," said Republican Sen. Scott Renfroe of Greeley.
One Colorado congressional seat, the 7th District in Denver's western suburbs, met Thursday night to choose three national delegates. Like others, Republicans there split their choices among pledged delegates for Romney, Santorum and Ron Paul. They also chose unpledged delegates.
On their final day, Republicans planned to elect 12 more statewide delegates on Saturday in Denver. The state overall has 36 delegates to the RNC. Thirty-three are chosen through state and congressional assemblies; three are party leaders including state GOP Chairman Ryan Call, who are free to choose whichever candidate they wish.
Friday's congressional GOP assemblies also picked favorites for Congress. The only incumbent facing a challenge was Rep. Doug Lamborn from Colorado Springs, a conservative who has sometimes clashed with other party members. Lamborn easily made it onto ballots but conceded that he faces a well-funded challenger who bypassed the assembly process. Lamborn took the podium to stress his far-right stances.
"I'm a rock-solid conservative any way you look at it," Lamborn said.
Democrats opened their state convention Friday in Pueblo, but little was at stake. No congressional hopefuls faced a challenge, nor did President Barack Obama.
Click here to have the print version of the Craig Daily Press delivered to your home.