By Valerie Richardson
The Colorado Statesman
The Western Conservative Summit keeps getting bigger, more influential and, as far as John Andrews is concerned, better.
Every year, the summit breaks its own attendance record, and this year was no exception. The three-day conservative confab, which wrapped up Sunday at the Colorado Convention Center, is expected to hit nearly 4,000 attendees when the final figures are tallied, or several hundred more than the 3,500 guests who turned out in 2014.
But the number of summiteers doesn’t quite explain the event’s growing influence in Republican politics. This year’s summit featured six announced or likely GOP presidential contenders and one surrogate — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz — the highest number of presidential hopefuls in the event’s history.
Part of the summit’s appeal for GOP candidates lies with Colorado’s status as a pivotal swing state. Part of it lies with the summit itself, says Andrews, director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, the event’s sponsor.
“We get a lot of compliments that we match up well to CPAC and some of the other, more established conservative conferences because there’s a spirit of fun and an entertainment dimension to the summit that some other conferences don’t have,” Andrews said.
This year’s entertainment highlights included cowboy singer Michael Martin Murphy, who performed Friday and Saturday night, and a Saturday night song-and-dance routine by the Colorado Children’s Chorale.
Video from the Summit… http://livestream.com/ccu/events/4151745