Patrick Neville is expected to lose top GOP spot in Colorado House

Gun News

It is increasingly likely that Patrick Neville, the far-right leader of Colorado’s shrunken House GOP caucus, will be overthrown later this year.

Neville, of Castle Rock, has been minority leader since 2016, but Rep. Hugh McKean, a Loveland Republican, has been public about his plans to seek the job of minority leader heading into the 2021 legislative session in January. More than a dozen lawmakers and other Capitol sources say they believe McKean’s victory is all but assured.

This outcome was made much more likely on primary night in June, when a slate of Republican candidates more aligned with Neville’s vision was trounced by a group of less hard-right candidates.

Like other statehouse leadership positions, the minority leader can’t be elected until at least the day after the November election. The House GOP currently holds just 24 seats in the 65-seat house — a 17-seat deficit — and there is virtually no chance that the majority flips later this year. The best-case scenario for the caucus, most believe, would be to pick up a few seats.

“We’re going to be in the minority, whether we like it or not. That’s the reality for a period of time,” said McKean.

The state is now controlled by Democrats, who occupy every constitutional office and hold majorities in both legislative chambers. But Republican lawmakers still have the opportunity to act as moderating forces and even, in some cases, to thwart or amend bills they oppose. Unlike the Senate GOP, the House GOP has mostly failed to make a dent in major recent policies.

“The reality is — and I hate to say it — that the House GOP is basically irrelevant,” said Brian DelGrosso, Neville’s predecessor as minority leader. “The numbers are so far skewed that, quite frankly, the voice of the GOP doesn’t even need to be considered for them to push legislation through.”

A number of lawmakers said they believe at least 15 or 16 likely members of next session’s House GOP caucus plan to support McKean, who is far from a liberal but who many see as more moderate than Neville. The latest plan would also have Rep. Colin Larson of Littleton replace Rep. Kevin Van Winkle of Highlands Ranch as assistant majority leader.

McKean wouldn’t offer a vote count, but he did say, “Am I positive that we have all the votes? I sure think, from the conversations we’ve had, that we do.”

Echoed Larson: “I think there’s a big appetite for a change in leadership.”

Neville brushed off questions about the race for minority leader, saying that he is more focused on the November elections than on internal party politics.

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