It’s time all right, but not for what local Republican leaders want

Craig Hall

There’s an adage along the line of never interrupt your enemy while he’s in the middle of destroying himself. Sadly, that applies more and more in Mesa County to the Republican Party.

The latest destruction comes to us via the county commissioner primary race between JJ Fletcher and Janet Rowland. Frankly speaking, our local Republicans should have handled this the Democrat Party way in telling JJ to sit down and wait his turn. Janet is the incumbent, and the party should have made it clear it was backing her and her only. Instead what we have are “Republican leaders” asking Republicans to vote for JJ, who will do little, if anything, different from Janet, keep employees employed who misappropriate funds because they’re popular or make stolen election claims all while commiserating with the far-left fringe of local Democrats. How does any of that help their splintered party unite?

Full disclosure: Janet Rowland is a good friend of mine. Our friendship grew out of me seeking her out to understand how I could handle the criticism, attacks and outright lies toward me from folks who don’t like what I write — something this column is sure to do again. I’m not naïve enough to believe everyone is going to think as I do, so I reached out to Janet because I saw her handle the same kinds of attacks with grace and wanted to learn how do to the same. Janet’s answer was about waiting things out and that truth always finds a way. Who knew she would have to apply it towards me at times during our friendship and again today in her primary?

One last lesson Janet taught me about local politics: Republicans will try to destroy you faster than the Democrats once they turn on you or someone thinks they can take you out. Final disclosure: Janet has no idea I’m writing this.

I’m not saying JJ can’t run for commissioner. I’m saying he shouldn’t when we have an incumbent. And our Republican leadership should have made that crystal clear. Then again, when rumors swirl the local party “leader” was looking into primarying Janet as well, one sees clearly it’s about who’s in power. Obviously, the party decided not Janet.

For proof, look no further than the “daily’s” “article” about JJ making the ballot where even a green reporter fresh out of J school would have asked followup questions to the statements JJ made.
Yet, we got crickets.

In the “story,” JJ mentioned the dismissal of “popular” public health director Jeff Kuhr as a reason why Janet lost support. Fair enough. But first, I’d like to know who used the word “popular” — the reporter or JJ? Then the reporter could have followed up with a question like: “JJ, what would you have done with a county employee misappropriating millions of dollars of grants and tax money? The popular thing or the right thing?”

From the same article and kept alive by our friends at the Appleton Dumpling Gang — better known as Stand for the Constitution. These folks are the original Republican “rail splitters” who only seem to shoot straight when aiming at fellow Republicans. This stems from their Conway and Knotts strategy I’ll title the “Ol’ Dominion Debacle.” As far as I’ve seen, the only person able to illegally access Mesa County voting machines is the person on trial for doing so — Tina Peters. Perhaps the intrepid reporter could have asked JJ a question about any evidence our local machines were hacked? Or asked about the untold millions of dollars Peters has cost the county or potential lawsuits from Dominion for breaking a contract? In both of these cases, JJ was afforded the non-curious kind of treatment local journalists reserve for Democrats.

Next go to JJ’s website to see his “new” ideas. Obviously, “it’s time” for some of those, right? That is part of his spiel. Well, the three issues on JJ’s website are economic development, mental health and water. I find none of those issues or ideas new or arriving at “it’s time.” Looking further, it’s just JJ pretty much saying he’ll do as Janet has done, which would be smart to say if he was running four years from now.

And last and most loudly, when you’re a Republican running for office and have a meet and greet hosted by local, progressive, anti-all-things-Janet-and-Republican Claudette Kanola and your party leadership does nothing about it, that’s beyond the pale. To the point EVERYONE in party leadership should resign.

What’s next for Mesa County Republicans? A candidate recruitment event at Anne Landman’s house? A co-operative agreement with Restore the Balance? Or maybe it’s easiest just to ask the Democrats who they prefer and let Democrats run things like they do in the city?

The real question? Why is our local Republican leadership promoting a primary candidate against an incumbent who’s a clone on the issues, promotes Tina Peters and misappropriation of funds because they’re popular with the base, all while he wines and dines with the worst elements on the left the county has to offer?

Yet JJ declares Janet has the backing of the establishment? “It’s time” to realize the local Republican establishment simply wants their “conservative” guy in power — not unity. And here’s your sign.

Craig Hall is owner and publisher of the Business Times. Reach him at (970) 424-5133 or