Colorado Republicans could be on the verge of finally winning some significant elections in 2022 after being routed in 2016, 2018 and 2020 cycles that resulted in Democratic dominance not seen since the 1930’s.
A recent non-partisan national poll shows President Joe Biden drastically underwater in Colorado with only 37% approving him as president, while a whopping 54% said they disapproved. Meanwhile, Democrats are running scared from Biden’s rampant, runaway inflation and an explosive crime wave they created through their pro-criminal policies.
The operative word in the lead sentence is “could” because given where some Colorado Republican candidates are headed, Democrats could be bailed out from the Biden cesspool while some Republicans mire themselves in their own sewer of stolen election conspiracy theories promulgated by an equally unpopular former President Trump.
To be sure, I voted twice for Donald Trump over corrupt Hillary Clinton in 2016 and the doddering, incompetent Joe Biden in 2020. I strongly support Trump’s achievements such as the tax cut and deregulation agenda that spurred massive economic growth until Covid hit; his 234 federal judicial appointments including three new justices on the U.S. Supreme Court; and his immigration policies that secured the border until Biden created the tragic mess that exists today.
Trump was very successful in implementing mainstream conservative Republican policies passed by a Republican Congress in 2017-2018 led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
But Trump’s pathological inability to accept defeat and his obsession with the “Big Lie” conspiracy theory that the 2020 presidential was stolen, imperil Colorado Republican candidates at every level in 2022.
Colorado’s electorate is now 43 percent unaffiliated, 29 percent Democratic, and 26 percent Republican after an influx of 800,000 people into the state during the last decade. Anti-Trump unaffiliated voters asserted themselves in 2020 when Trump only got 52 percent in the Republican strongholds of El Paso and Douglas Counties where he should have gotten in the mid-60’s. He lost the big suburban metro counties of Arapahoe and Jefferson by 60-40 margins where a Republican must be competitive to win statewide. He lost Denver and Boulder Counties by a staggering 80 percent to 20 percent where a Republican must hit at least 30 percent. No Republican can win statewide with these numbers.
Trump lost to Clinton in Colorado by four points in 2016 and he lost to Biden by fourteen points in 2020.
Unaffiliated voters might be rejecting the Biden presidency and Democratic control of Congress and the state legislature but if they are faced with Republican candidates who are Trump clones parroting “Big Lie” stolen election conspiracy theories, they will be driven right back to Democratic candidates.
Unaffiliated voters will be looking for real answers from Republican candidates on the real issues of inflation, crime and Covid shutdowns. They do not want to hear about stolen election conspiracy theories that make Republican candidates look like unserious buffoons.
The Colorado Republican nomination process leading up to the June 28 primary is in full gear with competitive races for U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, Governor, the open 7th Congressional District, and the newly created 8th Congressional District along with state legislative and county races as well.
There are several good candidates for the Senate who could emerge as strong challengers to the “accidental senator” Michael Bennet who got a Senate seat handed to him 2009 before winning two elections against Republicans who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in 2010 and 2016. A recent poll showed Bennet essentially tied with a generic Republican opponent in 2022.
But if Colorado Republicans nominate State Rep. Ron Hanks of Canon City, Bennet will be inevitably headed to a third term.
Hanks is a committed acolyte of the Trump stolen election conspiracy dogma. He launched his candidacy with a video of him literally shooting an old Xerox copy machine emblazoned with a “Dominion” sign. Hanks contends that Dominion voting systems, used by the vast majority of Colorado county clerks, are connected to the Chinese through the internet resulting in the foreign manipulation of Colorado election results.
But nothing defines the dramatic struggle in the Colorado Republican Party more than the race for Secretary of State.
Democratic incumbent Secretary of State Jenna Griswold is nothing short of a partisan hack who is thoroughly incompetent to hold that office. Only the dedicated career employees who dutifully served under previous secretaries of both parties have held this critical office together. Griswold’s own appointments of key staff have seen a revolving door out of the office. Consumed by blind political ambition, just weeks after being sworn in as secretary of state in 2019 she announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate which she later abandoned when former Gov. John Hickenlooper pushed her out of the race.
Emerging as a strong Republican challenger to Griswold is former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson who also served as the executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association. Deeply respected by county clerks across the state, Anderson is in the proud Colorado tradition of secretaries of state of both parties who oversaw elections with non-partisan competence and professionalism. But Anderson must win a Republican primary first.
Despite being under a criminal investigation by a grand jury for compromising election equipment, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters has announced her candidacy for Secretary of State. Peters has become something of a national hero to the stolen election conspiracy movement after flying around the country with the ultimate conspiracy theorist, Mike Lindell. The all-Republican Mesa County Board of County Commissioners removed Peters from being involved in the 2021 election.
Both Hanks and Peters attended a recent meeting of the election conspiracy group FEC United where a leader called for Secretary of State Griswold to be “hanged.” Neither Hanks nor Peters said a word when this threat was made.
If Hanks and Peters are nominated along with other “Big Lie” proponents in other races, the winners will not just be the Democratic candidates in those specific races, responsible Republicans will be tainted in other races as well. But the ultimate winner will be the Democratic Left that already has total control of Colorado state government.
Maybe the real “conspiracy” of the 2022 Colorado election is that “Big Lie” stolen election conspiracy proponents like Hanks and Peters are the Democratic Left’s strongest political allies.
Dick Wadhams is a former Colorado Republican state chairman who worked for U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong for nine years before managing successful campaigns for U.S. Senator Hank Brown, U.S. Senator Wayne Allard and Governor Bill Owens.
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