By Lynn Bartels
The Denver Post
CASTLE ROCK — Republicans today elected Ryan Call as the new chairman of the state party, giving him a runaway victory that required only one round of voting.
Call, the legal counsel for the Colorado Republican Party, needed more than 138 votes to win on the first round. He got 166.6 votes during balloting at Douglas County High School.
The next nearest challenger was Sen. Ted Harvey, with 77.4 votes.
Call, 35, lives in Arapahoe County and has served as chairman of the Denver County Republican Party.
Among the Republicans who hailed his victory was Kelly Maher, with the consevative blog WhoSaidYouSaid.
"I think it's a big win for young people in our party," she said. "I think it's absolutely critical that we attract and engage a new generation."
The other chairman candidates were Leondray Gholston, the party vice chairman, with 23.16 votes, Matt Arnold of Clear the Bench Colorado, with 10.5 votes, and recent Colorado transplant Bart Baron with two votes.
Harvey and Arnold admitted they were surprised at their totals, and said delegates who had pledged to support them clearly did not come through. But both praised Call, saying he was a tireless worker.
Those eligible to vote today included GOP elected officials and county GOP officers.
Call, who succeeds chairman Dick Wadhams, begins immediately.
"If we do not come together to build our political party organization, campaign and fundraising infrastructure and inspire the grassroots effort, we will not see the kind of victories we hope for in 2012," Call said.
Republicans have talked about how divided their party was in the last election and their initial prediction was the race today would be close. But in the last few days, as Republicans openly questioned whether Harvey was too conservative to unite the party, there was a sense that Call would win.
But few predicted there would be only one round of balloting.
A candidate needs 50 percent plus one to win. The race for vice chair two years ago took three rounds of balloting as other candidates dropped out and a winner finally emerged.
"I'm surprised," Harvey said. "I thought we would go to at least two rounds."
Among those who nominated Call were Attorney General John Suthers and state Sen. Shawn Mitchell of Broomfield.
Suthers said Call knows the importance of fielding candidates who can attracted unaffiliated voters and attract converts.
"We must do what it takes to expand our party, not just purify our party," Suthers said.
Mitchell got big laughs and some "ooohs" with his remarks.
"Being a conservative and being a good leader is not enough for some people," he said. "They want to measure your principles by how harshly you criticize the people that you disagree with you.
"There's a technical term for that political strategy: stupid."
Republicans today also elected Don Ytterberg of Evergreen as vice chairman and Perry Buck of Greeley as secretary.