Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Matt Crane, a Republican, narrowly lost his re-election bid in the 2018 election to Joan Lopez, one of several county races that saw incumbent Republicans ousted by …
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Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Matt Crane, a Republican, narrowly lost his re-election bid in the 2018 election to Joan Lopez, one of several county races that saw incumbent Republicans ousted by Democratic challengers.
We sat down with Crane and asked him what went wrong for him and where he — and his party — should go from here.
Looking back at your time as Arapahoe clerk and recorder, what are you proud of?
There's a lot I'm proud of. I've worked in election administration since 2000, and Arapahoe County has been a statewide leader. We've got the most in-person voting. We were the first county to launch wait times for vote centers. We just won an award for an app that allows people to verify their ballots on their cell phones. I invited stakeholders of all parties to inspect the warehouse and see how votes are counted.
I approached my job in a nonpartisan manner. I just wanted good elections. I instilled trust that I wouldn't just be a partisan shill.
What was difficult?
In 2015, as the population exploded, wait times at the DMV got to between 2-3 hours.
We introduced motor vehicle registration kiosks to Colorado. The Department of Revenue said it would take two years, but we cut that down to months. Now they're all over the state. Between the kiosks and moving to an appointment system for driver's licenses, we were able to bring down DMV wait times significantly.
Why do you think you lost re-election?
I know why I lost: national politics. In Arapahoe County, President Trump is incredibly unpopular. He lost the state by 5 points, but Arapahoe County by 14 points. People looked at Trump and the Republican brand generally. They didn't look at experience or qualifications. They only looked at party affiliation, and they wanted to send a message. The reality is, do you think President Trump knows anything about Arapahoe County?
These aren't political jobs. I'm an administrator. Qualifications and experience matter in these roles. I wasn't deciding abortion, climate change or immigration. I wasn't fighting for or against TABOR. We were just running a great office. Part of the problem of running these offices partisan is people conflate the two. People look at the letter after the candidate's name, not what's happened during their time in office.
Should local Republicans repudiate the national party?
The answer isn't running from Trump. We need to talk about how Republican values matter more here on a local level. D.C. is a cesspool, but why are Republican ideals better here in Centennial or Aurora than what the other side is offering?
We can't impact things without a little compromise. The Colorado electorate is demanding more of that, perhaps. Maybe that's the rise of unaffiliated voters. People want to have adult conversations.
Is there room for moderates? That's up to the people to decide. When people vote strictly based on party, they're abdicating their responsibility. They say they want more moderates, but you won't judge people on their platform?
The task for Republicans is to demand more accountability from their leaders. The party has to get back to having a positive message. Don't just put down the other guy. If you run on something, damn it, govern that way. You have to be pragmatic in leadership.
Would you run for office again?
Sure. I don't know what and I don't know when. I never say never. Are there other ways for me to have an impact? Maybe losing the election was the Lord sending me elsewhere. I'm so grateful for those five years. I loved going to work every day. But right now I'm looking forward.
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