Republicans make their case at Lincoln Day Dinner

House of Rep. candidate Carol Riggenbach (CD62)

Event held Feb. 17 at Ski-Hi Complex in Monte Vista

MONTE VISTA — Approximately 300 people attended the prestigious Lincoln Day Dinner on Feb. 17 at the Outcalt Event and Conference at SLV Ski-Hi Complex.

The dinner gave people the chance to hear from and meet with Colorado GOP legislators and candidates such as Russ Andrews (U.S. House District 3 candidate), Ron Hanks (U.S. House CD3 candidate), Stephen Varela (U.S. House District 3 candidate), Curtis McCrackin (U.S. House District 3 candidate), Jeff Hurd (U.S. House District 3 candidate), state Senator Cleave Simpson (CD6), state House of Rep. candidate Carol Riggenbach (CD62), and 12th Judicial District Attorney Anne Kelly. It also serves as a Republican fundraiser.

The banquet room was at capacity, with tables full of people and grand desserts of chocolate cake, along with various flavored pies, and Lincoln dinner napkins, all laid out on the tables, with bottled waters and silverware. A small bar with wine and spirits was also offered by the Elks Lodge, and Sunflour Café catered the event. Dinner consisted of pulled beef, with potatoes, carrots, and a home-made dinner roll.

The event began with an introduction by Cheryl O’Dowd, who is chair for Alamosa County GOP. After the event, she gave some background on the host group — SLV GOP.

“We have people ask us what is the SLV GOP? and I love answering this question,” O’Dowd said. “The San Luis Valley is the largest area in Colorado with the smallest population.  Conservative leadership from all six counties decided to get together and create the SLV GOP so that we have a louder voice, after all the Front Range makes all our decisions and we are tired of that. Our Lincoln Day Dinner included people from all six counties coming together. It was awesome hearing from the candidates and elected officials that do and will represent the Valley. The whole event gave the audience the opportunity to know that we as a Valley are working together to save our Valley, state and country.  From the feedback this event rocked.”

Door prizes were given. Auction items were also sold in between speakers. Items up for auction were a family pass at the Hooper pool, a red velvet cake that was decked out in red, white, and blue, 5-year-old Brandy that was encased in a glass container shaped like a large pistol, a beautifully encased flag that sold to Rio Grande County Sherriff Anne Robinson for over $3,000, and homemade cookies along with other items.

Senator Simpson spoke at the dinner, “I am up for re-election this year. I want to talk about the session last year. As the session ended last year, it ended so horribly, it was all about proposition HH. It was really frustrating to see how public policy was trying to deal with property taxes, it was just a terrible way to deal with those in that short time frame. When I left the Capitol on that Monday after 120 days, I didn’t want to come back but I knew that wasn’t the right time to make that decision. I came home and thought about it a lot harder. I know that there is still a lot more work to be done and representing rural Colorado is really important to me, and all the things we all stand for.”

Simpson said that although things are a little more challenging this year, as his district has changed and he now represents Senate District 6, the San Luis Valley and everything west of Utah.

“This district is a lot more competitive than my prior one,” he said.

Simpson said it is important to him to gain help from everyone across the new district.

“I am committed to representing you all at the Capitol. One of my favorite Abraham Lincoln quotes, ‘A man should be proud of the country he represents, but equally important the country should be proud of the man.’ I have lived my life making sure that the community, my mom in heaven, my dad, and you all are proud of me as well. I appreciate your support. Thank you.”

Riggenbach, who is running for the Republican nomination in the state House of Representatives District 62, also spoke at the dinner.

“Mathew Martinez who represents us right now, he does not represent you he does what (Gov. Jared) Polis tells him to do,” she said. “We did a lot of doors 17,000 doors in 2022. We cover the counties in the San Luis Valley, and we also cover Gardner. We won in Gardner, it's all Democrats and we won. We won five counties out of eight in 2022. There are so many great ideas this year. One of the big ideas for a big project is there is money for seniors out there. There is money that is used, but the extra goes back to the general fund. Where is the general fund money going right now? The invasion, immigration. We have been invaded. We are going to do a lot. I am going to be knocking on doors asking for help. We can do it. I am very proud of the San Luis Valley, Pueblo. I am proud of District 62. Pueblo is fantastic, and the people of the San Luis Valley we need to do some good stuff. God bless you and I pray Psalm 91 over our entire district. May we all have a good time tonight. Thank you.”

Republican DA Kelly also spoke at the dinner.

“I don’t think I have an opponent this year,” she said. “I don’t think anyone is running against me, so I can take a huge sigh of relief and get back to work. I have been a Republican for longer than I could register to vote. What I can say about our Republican party today is we need to win. We need to look at Ronald Regan and think how did he win. I will give an analogy to a jury trial. When I am trying a case in front of a jury my goal is to provide them with the facts that they need to do justice.”

Kelly said that she can provide the jury with the facts as to why her case is strong and why she is right.

“Often the lawyers will get involved and bicker with one and other and object to one another very strongly and being kind of jerks. They start yelling at the judge and questioning the judge’s ruling,” she said.

Kelly said if she were to get herself involved in that she would lose her jury.

“What my jury wants me to do is give them the facts so they can do the right thing to convict the bad guys,” Kelly said.

Kelly said she wanted to analogize that to the Republican party right now.

“We have one of the strongest cases that we have had in a long time,” Kelly said. “People are so sick and tired of jumping the shark as the Democratic party has done. They have really outdone themselves with the kind of ludicrous legislation that they are purposing.”

Kelly explained how the Democratic party was asking to make every pet owner pay a fee to register their pet with the state.

“The fact that, that piece of legislation even made it onto paper, they are jumping the shark,” she said.

Kelly said that it was necessary to show everyone that Republicans are strong on education, immigration, and law and order.

“We are going to fight against the ridiculous notions that the society of socialists are trying to shove down our throats,” she said.

Kelly said that when she is in front of a jury, she does not think about what the other side is doing because her case is strong.

“I hope our party can think about how strong our case is, and make the case, instead of focusing on bickering with one another. We have to make the case. We can this year. We can take our state back,” Kelly said.