Hot SheetLegislatureRepublicans

Former Colo. GOP leader Howard Propst dies; memorial Sept. 29

Author: Joey Bunch - September 17, 2018 - Updated: September 18, 2018

Howard Propst
Former Colorado state Rep. Howard Propst. (Photo courtesy of the Propst family)

Howard Propst, a former Colorado Republican Party chairman, will be remembered at a memorial Sept. 28  in Sterling. The former state legislator from Logan County died Sept. 1. He was 95.

After two terms in the legislature, he became the executive assistant to Gov. John Love in 1962 before serving as the state GOP chairman.

Propst was buried Sept. 7 in Sarasota, Fla. He had lived in Florida since the 1970s. There, he served as Clay County Republican Party chairman.

From 1981 to 1991, he was the legislative director and later chief of staff for the late Bill Armstrong, a Colorado U.S. senator who founded Colorado Christian University.

Propst’s family suggested that in lieu of flowers, donations in his memory could be made to Colorado Christian University, the Heritage Foundation or Covenant Life Presbyterian Church in Sarasota.

The family said his wife, Llwana, and his three daughters, Rebecah, Lorre and Heather, were with him when he passed away. The memorial Saturday will be at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Sterling.

Propst was born on his family ranch in Merino, Logan County, which he later managed while he also worked as a high school teacher and coach.

Dick Wadhams, a former state GOP chairman and a Colorado’s de facto political historian, recalled the times that shaped the rancher from Logan County:

Howard was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in the late 1950’s from Logan County. In 1962 he ran for an open seat in Congress in the Second District which at that time consisted of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Cheyenne, Clear Creek, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, Jefferson, Kit Carson, Larimer, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld and Yuma Counties, essentially all of northeastern Colorado along with what are now suburban counties around Denver, represented by Republican Peter Dominick who decided to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator John Carroll. Back then the First District was in Denver County represented by Democrat Byron Rogers, the Third District was Pueblo and El Paso Counties along with southeastern Colorado represented by Republican J. Edgar Chenoweth of Trinidad, and the Fourth District was western Colorado represented by Democrat Wayne Aspinall.

“Howard lost the Republican primary to Don Brotzman.

“Republicans had huge success in 1962 with Dominick unseating Carroll and Colorado Springs attorney John Love unseating incumbent Democratic Gov, Stephen L.R. McNichols. Newly elected Gov. Love asked Howard to serve as his chief of staff.

“The 1964 election saw President Lyndon Johnson defeat Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater in Colorado while Republican Congressmen Chenoweth and Brotzman were unseated and Democrats won a whopping 42-23 margin in the Colorado House. Against this backdrop, several Republican leaders including Gov. Love, Sen. Dominick and Sen. Gordon Allott asked Howard to run for Colorado Republican state chairman in 1965. And what a turnaround Colorado Republicans saw under Howard’s leadership in 1966!

“Gov. Love and Sen. Allott were re-elected. Republicans won back the state House by a 38 to 27 margin. Congressman Brotzman won back his Second District seat. The only statewide election Democrats won in 1966 was lieutenant governor which at that time was elected totally separate from the governor. By the way, Sen. Allott defeated a Denver legislator by the name of Roy Romer, I wonder what happened to that guy …

“Howard not only revived the Colorado Republican Party after the 1964 Democratic landslide, he set the stage for Republicans dominating for the rest of the 1960’s through 1970.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.