Colorado Republicans voted Saturday to put on their ballot in the US Senate a state representative who attended the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the attack on the US Capitol and is a supporter of the lies of former President Donald Trump on the 2020 presidential election.
The gathering is an important step in earning the party’s nomination to run against Democratic Senator Michael Bennet in November. State Assemblyman Ron Hanks was the first choice of 3,700 delegates to the state GOP convention, winning 39% of the vote. His only GOP rival in the June 28 Republican Senate primary will be businessman John O’Dea, who chose to distribute petitions to vote rather than walk through the convention.
“I fully expected Donald Trump to win 2020 – and he did,” said Hanks, who has made the election his central theme, to loud cheers from the crowd at a Colorado Springs arena. “When we saw what we saw on election night 2020, it changed everything, just like the changes we felt after 9/11.”
The gathering showed how central Trump’s electoral lies are to party loyalists, even though repeated audits and scrutiny — including by Trump’s own Justice Department — have found no significant electoral fraud in the contest.
The convention passed a resolution calling for an end to Colorado’s universal mail-in voting system, in which every voter has a ballot paper mailed to them.
Hanks’ supporters also rallied around Tina Peters, a western Colorado county clerk who has been charged with her alleged role in copying confidential voting data circulated online by Trump supporters.
Peters, who was prevented by a judge from overseeing last year’s municipal election, is running for the GOP nomination for Colorado’s top electoral office, secretary of state. She won 61% of the votes at Saturday’s events. Two other Republican candidates — businessman Michael O’Donnell, who came second at Saturday’s convention, and Pam Anderson, a former district clerk who avoided the convention and petitioned in support of her candidacy — will also run for the GOP nomination in June chosen .
Greg Lopez, a former mayor of a suburb of Denver, was the frontrunner in the party’s nomination for governor after promising to pardon Peters if he was elected governor. He and Heidi Ganahl, a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, will face off in the June primary. The winner will challenge Democratic Governor Jared Polis.
Candidates for statewide office must receive support from at least 30% of the delegates to be eligible for the general election or circulate petitions collected in each of the state’s eight congressional districts. Five other Republican Senate hopefuls split the remaining votes evenly, with none crossing the critical 30 percent hurdle and ending their campaigns.
An Air Force veteran and former military intelligence officer, Hanks has quickly become a polarizing figure in Colorado politics after winning the 2020 statehouse election. He has made election questioning his main focus, visiting the erratic Trump-backed election review in Arizona’s largest county and filing a lawsuit against the state’s Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold for a similar review of Colorado’s electoral system force.
His rival O’Dea instead focuses his campaign on economic and social issues.