Mar 11, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Colorado GOP picks election denier to lead party into 2024 election

Dave Williams, a former state representative, on the House floor

Dave Williams, left, a former state lawmaker, talks to a colleague in the Colorado House in May 2022. Photo: Hyoung Chang/Denver Post via Getty Images

The Colorado Republican Party's new leader believes Donald Trump won the 2020 election and considers Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell a "feckless leader."

Driving the news: The party's roughly 400-member central committee selected Dave Williams, a former state representative who challenged incumbent GOP congressman in 2022 and lost, as the party's new chair.

  • Williams, an ardent Trump supporter and anti-abortion advocate, won on the third vote at the party's meeting in Loveland after being endorsed by Tina Peters, the indicted former Mesa County election chief. In the first two votes, no candidate reached 50%.
  • He defeated six other candidates, most of whom were election deniers or skeptics.

Why it matters: The vote affirms the state Republican Party's embrace of conspiracy theories about the nation's voting system and will make it harder for GOP candidates to win in a state where voters overwhelmingly rejected Trump-aligned candidates in the 2022 election.

  • Moreover, the chair is the spokesperson for the Republican brand and holds strategic power within the party when it comes to the 2024 presidential nominating contest and selecting poll watchers.

What they're saying: "The party will be led by a MAGA-stolen-election-conspiracist who wants to reject unaffiliated voters from the Republican primary," Dick Wadhams, the former GOP chairman tells Axios Denver. "None of them understand a changing Colorado electorate that rejects Trump."

The big picture: The ascension of Williams, is part of a broader wave of election deniers who are taking over state parties, AP reports.

  • In Michigan, Kristina Karamo, a former community college instructor, won the race for chair of the state GOP chair in February, and in Kansas, conspiracy theorist Mike Brown rose to the party's top post.

Zoom in: In a speech to the party's loyalists, Williams said Republicans can only rebound from its historic losses in Colorado's 2022 election if they go on the offense and stop trying to reach across the aisle. He said the party needs a "wartime leader" and a "fighter, not another timid politician."

  • "Our party doesn't have a brand problem," he said. "Our party has a problem with feckless leaders who are ashamed of you and ashamed of our conservative principles."

Between the lines: Peters won only 10% of the vote on the first ballot just days after being found guilty of obstruction of justice in a separate charge related to her 2022 indictment for an election security breach.

Of note: Williams fills the role being vacated by Kristi Burton Brown, who decided not to seek another term.

  • Brown had called on Peters to end her campaign for secretary of state after being indicted. Peters refused and finished second in the GOP primary contest.
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