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Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown speaks during a "Commitment to Colorado" press conference at a Sinclair station on Monday, August 9, 2021, in Denver. Colorado GOP members addressed goals of the coming legislative session on tax reversals, public safety changes, and modifying public educational choices. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

Kristi Burton Brown, the first woman to lead the Colorado GOP in roughly 40 years, won’t seek another two-year term as chair of the state party after Republicans’ disastrous 2022 election cycle. 

Burton Brown announced her decision Monday afternoon in an email to Colorado GOP supporters. She said she will remain involved in politics and focus on education policy moving forward.

“After spending some time reflecting in prayer and talking with my family over Thanksgiving, I’m announcing that I will not be seeking an additional term as chair of the Colorado Republican Party,” Burton Brown wrote. “I look forward to focusing on policy once again, after my term ends in March 2023. As a grassroots conservative like you, I know how important it is to continue to fight tooth and nail for our party and our values.”

Burton Brown said she’s confident Colorado voters will eventually back Republicans once again but that it will take time.

“It’s my perspective that things will continue to get worse under Democratic control and eventually voters will that will tie it to the party in charge,” she told The Colorado Sun in an interview. “And that’s when Republicans, if along the way we are consistently advocating for effective policy solutions, can eventually win back seats. Will it take time? Absolutely We’re definitely not talking about an overnight or one cycle thing.”

The Colorado GOP will select Burton Brown’s successor in March, and a host of candidates are already lining up to replace her, including Casper Stockham, who ran unsuccessfully to be state party chair in 2021 after three failed congressional bids. Burton Brown is the party’s third chair in six years. 

Burton Brown, a lawyer who got her start in politics as an anti-abortion advocate, took the helm at the Colorado Republican Party in March 2021 when the state GOP was at its lowest point since 1936. She sought to reverse the party’s losses in 2018 and 2020 through a policy platform — the “commitment to Colorado” — aimed at unaffiliated voters, who make up the state’s largest voting bloc.

The GOP was confident that it would make gains on Nov. 8, especially given how the party that holds the White House traditionally loses ground during midterm elections.

Instead, Republicans fell further into the political minority in Colorado, losing every race for statewide office by at least 10 percentage points and failing to pick up the new 8th Congressional District. The GOP also lost seats in both chambers of the legislature, where the party was already in the minority. 

One prominent Colorado Republican called the 2022 election an “extinction-level event.” Colorado Republicans must now wait until 2026 before they have any real shot at winning back substantial power.

Burton Brown, who said she was encouraged by many party insiders to run for a second term at chair, said Democrats won this year because voters believed their narrative that Republicans are extremists and represent a threat to democracy.

“You saw the backlash against, I think, what was more of a national narrative of what Republicans were,” she said.

Not everyone in the Colorado GOP was on board with the commitment to Colorado. Some in the party — including U.S. Senate candidate Ron Hanks and secretary of state candidate Tina Peters — were focused more on 2020 election conspiracies than Burton Brown’s priorities of driving down consumer costs, improving public safety and expanding school choice.

Burton Brown, who hasn’t finalized her next job, won’t be endorsing any candidates to succeed her. She said the next party chair will need to be someone who is optimistic and confident about the Colorado GOP’s future and who can energize both the Republican base and show the broader electorate that the party is more diverse than some believe.

“I have loved every minute of it,” Burton Brown said of her tenure as chair. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had in my life. I just think I could be more effective in the next two years focusing on policy.”

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....