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Opinion: I made the RINO wall of shame, a list of Republicans who aren’t Trump sycophants

What do Coloradans Ken Buck, Norma Anderson, Claudine Cmarada, Terry Porter, Michelle Priola, Jeff Crank, I and several others have in common?

We are flattered to be called out on a Colorado Republican Party-affiliated website that disparages those it deems Republican In Name Only. RINO, an old slight once reserved for centrists, now defines anyone who defies former president Donald Trump or his sycophants.

Not surprisingly, the website also promotes state GOP Chair Dave Williams’ candidacy to replace retiring 5th Congressional District Representative Doug Lamborn and denigrates his opponent, Jeff Crank. Williams has found many imaginative ways to use his position and access to party resources to advocate for himself, revealing a complete lack of scruples and a healthy appreciation for unintended irony.

In a state GOP email heralding his run for office, Williams defined “Authentic Christian
leadership,” as “serving others above self” and “not letting failed, say-anything politicians in
Washington D.C. get away with taking citizens for (sic) ride.”

The latter definition, nowhere in the Bible, smacks of Christian nationalism, which is inimical to authentic faith. The former definition would exclude Williams’ claim to real leadership based on his actions in recent weeks alone; he is literally serving himself as GOP Chair at the expense of others in the party. He has since sent out additional official state GOP emails and physical mail lambasting his opponent.

Another dirty smudge of faux religiosity accompanied his tweet about his recent MAGA endorsement: “We thank the Lord God Almighty for having the opportunity to earn President Trump’s support.” Likewise, in a Febuary email, Williams exhorted the party to support former
Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, a law-breaking, election-conspiracy theorist facing
trial, and pray away any of her penalties.

When the secretary of the Mesa County GOP, Terry Porter, criticized Williams’ misuse of GOP resources to elevate Peters and urged him to step down from the chairmanship while he ran for the congressional nomination, she earned a spot on the website’s RINO Wall of Shame.

Fourth Congressional District Representative Rep. Ken Buck has been a repeat recipient of the
honor. He opposed futile, indeed farcical, impeachment efforts against Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Buck also had the audacity to announce he was resigning March 22. The district will hold a special election for the seat on June 25, the same day as the primary. Thanks to Buck’s decision, the candidate selected by a committee to represent Republicans in the special election could get a name recognition boost in the primary election. Williams’ favorite for the plains district primary, Rep. Lauren Boebert, however, has said she is not running in the special election because she would have to resign her current seat representing the 3rd Congressional District.

Former State Senator Norma Anderson, former Congresswoman Claudine Cmarada, Michelle
Priola, and I, all Republican litigants in Trump v. Anderson, earned our RINO creds on the GOP
site with the additional distinction of being “traitors…who should be forced out of the party.”

What all of the aforementioned individuals have in common is an affinity for traditional Republican policies that support lower taxes, leaner government, a balanced budget, American world leadership, entrepreneurship, natural rights, rule of law, personal responsibility, and values which, though not exclusive to the GOP, were once considered nonnegotiable — honesty,
dignity, optimism, and comity.

Our policy preferences and values stand in stark contrast to MAGA with its love of expansive government, deficit spending, more debt, higher tariffs, and belligerent isolationism, and its penchant for epic dishonesty, moral cowardice, baleful pessimism, counterfeit religion, and revanchist animosity toward fellow Americans and U.S. institutions.

Republican In Policy, Values, Ethics, and Name Only, however, doesn’t make a pronounceable
acronym. So RINO it is.

And when the MAGA fever boil bursts, the party will need a GOP Rescue IN Operation, a RINO, to restore what has been pillaged and corrupted over the past few years. We of the RINO wall of fame will be here to pick up the pieces.

Krista L. Kafer is a weekly Denver Post columnist. Follow her on Twitter: @kristakafer

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