DENVER—Denver may not be known as a Republican hot spot in the state of Colorado, but Denver County Republican Chairman Danny Stroud is determined to put the party back on the map, politically speaking.
For the second year in a row, Stroud—along with the county party leadership—has turned some heads with the selection of the group’s keynote speaker for the annual fundraising dinner.
Last year, businessman and future Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain wowed those in attendance at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science months before he caught fire with a portion of the grassroots conservatives within his party.
This year, the Denver County GOP will play host to Rep. Allen West of Florida, an outspoken conservative, Tea Party favorite and subject of recent rumors of reaching some political observers and Republican heavy-hitters’ short list as a potential VP candidate.
West made waves after his election to Congress for slamming fellow Florida Representative and Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz as “vile, unprofessional, and despicable.” West also gained national notoriety after characterizing liberal Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, a Muslim, as “someone that really does represent the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.”
The Lincoln Day dinner will take place Monday, June 4.
“He’s made a name for himself as a spokesman for liberty in this country, and he has a great message,” Stroud said.
Stroud has been a proponent of removing the stigma of Denver as the metro area’s ‘forgotten county’ when it comes to Republican electoral objectives and get-out-the-vote turnout efforts. He simply points to the numbers of registered Republicans in the county that must turn out on Election Day in order for statewide Republican candidates to win.
“Allen West is anything but boring,” Stroud said, noting that having a speaker like the outspoken West would help spread the Republican message to “casual” urban voters, including inactive Republican and unaffiliated voters who normally turn out only during presidential elections every four years.
“We knew, after last year, that folks wanted to hear new people, new things,” Stroud said as he explained the origin of the invitation.
“Denver is a bellwether and Colorado is a battleground state, and [West] knows that.”
West agreed to keynote based on a cold-call from Stroud. He leapt immediately at the chance to move past regional events and travel to another of the blockbuster swing states, according to Stroud.
And while both men share an affinity due to their service in the United States Army—Stroud is a West Point graduate, West is a retired lieutenant colonel—that wasn’t the deciding factor.
“He knows how important [Colorado] is.”
Driving part of the interest in the Florida Republican’s appearance in June are rumors and endorsements of West as a possible running mate on the GOP ticket come November.
One of those touting the conservative South Florida representative is, coincidentally, last year’s keynote speaker. Cain has called on GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney to give West the nod.
The last GOP vice presidential candidate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has also mentioned West as an outside-the-box pick.
For his part, West has said he would consider the invitation to join the ticket, adding the caveat, if it presented the “right fit.”
West currently represents Florida’s 22nd Congressional District. The freshman Republican faces a reelection battle in Florida’s new 18th district, electing not to run in the heavily redistricted, now more-Democrat friendly 22nd district carved up by the Florida legislature, ironically controlled by his own party.
A venue has not yet been set, but Stroud expects double the number of attendees from last year, estimating a crowd of 500 to 700, as interest in Rep. West pours in from other areas of the state. West will also attend fundraisers in the Denver area as part of his trip to the Centennial state.
Stroud felt confident in his numbers based on the reactions he’s garnered in making announcements concerning the event in recent days.
Calls to Rep. West’s offices went unanswered late Monday.