Moderate Colorado Republicans breaking ranks
By JUDITH KOHLER
The Associated Press
10/21/2004, 3:39 p.m. PT
DENVER (AP) A rebellion of sorts is under way among some of
Colorado's moderate Republicans, led by a retired tax lawyer who
worked in the Nixon White House and says she is fed up with the
direction of her party.
Mary Lou Halliburton, 66, is a lifelong Republican and a relative of
Earl Halliburton, who founded the company once headed by Vice
President Dick Cheney and now criticized for a $7.5 billion no-bid
contract to work in Iraq.
Halliburton doesn't think her late cousin would approve of the
circumstances surrounding the contract. And she doesn't like how
President Bush has handled the Iraq war, so she is supporting
Democrat John Kerry.
More than anything, Halliburton doesn't like the direction of the
GOP. She said the party's rejection of fiscal conservatism, respect
for differences and other long-held principles could help explain
why Bush hasn't sewn up Colorado after winning here easily four
"Our issues and concerns are everything from foreign policy to
deficit spending to choice to stem cell research to the Iraq war
and on and on," Halliburton wrote in an e-mail to more than 200
people who contacted her after a newspaper column about disaffected
The interest encouraged Halliburton and like-minded party members,
including former state Sens. Dottie Wham and Al Meiklejohn, to
form "Republicans Who Want Their Party Back," whose aim is to return
the party "to the mainstream of American politics."
The Colorado Republicans aren't alone. Party members in Oregon,
including relatives of former GOP Gov. Vic Atiyeh, have announced
their support for Kerry. The former governor, however, supports Bush.
Ty Pettit, president and chief executive of a medical device company
in Portland, Ore., recently switched to the Democratic Party after
30 years as a Republican. His complaints include the deficit, Iraq
and the president's stances against abortion and stem-cell research.
"The party of George Bush needs to be challenged," Pettit said.
An Internet site run by Republicans for Kerry echoes his concerns,
claiming Bush "has acted so contrary to our values."
They join John Eisenhower, son of Republican President Eisenhower,
who announced in September that he backs Kerry and is upset with
Bush and the GOP over the budget deficits, the war and social
policies. Former Minnesota Gov. Elmer Anderson supports Kerry for
the same reasons.
"I think it's the sign of the times, with Bush going as far as he
has, that there are more of us," Halliburton said.
The question, however, is how deep the opposition really is.
Nancy Martorano, a political science professor at the University of
Dayton in Ohio, said there is a certain amount of crossover between
both parties in every election. She doesn't think the numbers this
year add up to a revolution in the ranks.
"If anything, we're actually seeing less crossover in 2000 and
2004," Martorano said.
She acknowledged some Republicans are unhappy with the deficits,
Iraq and "the impact that the hard-core Christian right has on Bush."
But she said she believes most would prefer Bush's policies to
Colorado GOP chairman Ted Halaby said some of the high-profile
defections have caught a lot of attention. "I don't like to lose any
Republican votes," he said.
But Halaby predicted more Democrats will vote for Bush than
Republicans will vote for Kerry because of national security
concerns. He expects Bush's modest lead in Colorado polls to hold or
"I subscribe to the big-tent philosophy of Ronald Reagan. I think
there's plenty of room for moderates," Halaby said.
Former Colorado Secretary of State and U.S. Senate nominee Mary
Estill Buchanan is among the moderate Republicans who feel there is
no room for them. Buchanan said she will likely vote for Kerry.
"We all feel we've compromised too much," Buchanan said. She said
the breaking point for her was the prospect of Bush appointing new
justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"The tone for the next 40 years, for another generation, can be set
by just two appointees," she said.