Colorado GOP nominates election deniers to 2022 primary ballot
COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Republican Party voted to put two prominent election deniers on the primary ballot, fully embracing the "Big Lie" conspiracy that the 2020 contest was stolen from former President Trump.
Driving the news: State Rep. Ron Hanks, who crossed police lines at the U.S. Capitol riots on Jan. 6, qualified for the primary in the Senate race after a vote by party activists at the state assembly on Saturday.
- Tina Peters, the Mesa County clerk recently indicted on criminal election tampering charges, landed a ballot spot in the secretary of state's race.
- And two more long-shot candidates who aligned themselves with Hanks and Peters secured places in the primary but one was later disqualified for being an unaffiliated voter.
What they're saying: "I fully expected Donald Trump to win in 2020 — and he did," Hanks said to roars from the crowd.
Why it matters: The topic of election security permeated every aspect of the assembly in Colorado Springs and demonstrated how distrust and conspiracies are deeply entrenched within the party's base.
- The issue will dominate the June primary and may make it difficult for the GOP to appeal more broadly to independent voters in November.
The intrigue: The convention included a speech from Joe Oltmann, founder of conservative group FEC United, who has suggested Gov. Jared Polis should be hanged because he's "a traitor."
- Oltmann urged the party's nearly 3,800 delegates inside Broadmoor World Arena to "go out there and be an ambassador for truth."
The other side: The GOP stance gave fuel to state Democrats, who held their own virtual assembly Saturday.
- "It seems to me that we have a moral obligation to win, not for the sake of Democrats, but for the sake of democracy," U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet told party delegates. "What's on the other side is Trumpism and tyranny."
How it works: The party assemblies are one path candidates can take to qualify for the primary ballot. They must get 30% of the vote. The other is collecting petition signatures.
State of play: Two Republicans will appear on the ballot in the U.S. Senate race.
- Hanks won 39% of the vote. The five other candidates split the rest and didn't make the ballot.
- Joe O'Dea, a first-time candidate and business owner, previously qualified through the petition process.
In the governor's race, the primary will feature Greg Lopez, a former Small Business Administration official, and Heidi Ganahl, a University of Colorado regent.
- Lopez, who vowed to pardon Peters if she is convicted, took 34% while Ganahl received 33%.
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