By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4)– Colorado Republicans met this past Saturday to decide who should be on the primary ballot for statewide races and they made some unusual choices. In the Secretary of State’s race, a candidate indicted on criminal charges made top line and in the Attorney General’s race, a candidate who isn’t a licensed attorney in Colorado or a Republican made the ballot.

Colorado Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown told delegates at the state assembly, “The red wave is coming.”

(credit: CBS)

Even as the party geared up for the 2022 election, some delegates are still hung-up on the 2020 election. Former party chair and CBS4 political analyst Dick Wadhams says election deniers could blow the party’s chances in November.

“So many of these folks who want to talk about stolen election conspiracies they never think about the larger issue: will this appeal to the voters who are going to elect us or defeat us in November. And that 43% of unaffiliated, the very people who defeated Trump by 14 points in 2020.”

Wadhams says conspiracy-obsessed Republicans will hand Colorado to the left despite President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings and high inflation, crime and gas prices, “If we nominate some informed candidates to talk about the issues, unaffiliated voters come our way.”

But Republicans at the assembly instead opted for election fraud conspiracy theorists, putting Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters on the ballot for Secretary of State even though she’s been indicted for compromising election equipment and former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez got the most votes in the gubernatorial race after talking about pardoning Peters. CU Regent Hiedi Ganahl also made the gubernatorial ballot. Peters will face Mike O’Donnell and former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson, who petitioned on the ballot, in the Secretary of State primary.

(credit: CBS)

Wadhams says Republicans’ choice of Peters is especially troubling, “When Republican assembly gives top line to a candidate for Secretary of State who has been criminally indicted and is under FBI investigation, there’s a disconnect there that I’ve never seen in my party before.”

Delegates also voted to put an election denier on the ballot for Attorney General even though Stanley Charles Thorne did not meet the criteria. Thorne isn’t licensed to practice in Colorado and, when he was nominated at Saturday’s assembly, was unaffiliated. Ironically, Thorne was endorsed by Peters and State Representative Ron Hanks, who filed a lawsuit to prevent unaffiliated voters from participating in the primary. Last week, a judge dismissed those efforts.

In a surprise vote, Republican Congressman Ken Buck, who occasionally broke with former President Donald Trump, almost didn’t make the ballot and Hanks, who has made the “Big Lie” the centerpiece of his U.S. Senate campaign, was the only one at the assembly to make the Senate primary ballot. He’ll face businessman Joe O’Dea, who petitioned on the ballot.

Wadhams says if Hanks wins, he will hand the race to Democratic Senator Michael Bennet, “This is the perfect opportunity for Republicans to have a great year, probably the best opportunity since 2010, 12 years ago and yet we are slowly taking the opportunity away.”

Former State Representative Lang Sias is the only candidate who will be on the primary ballot for Treasurer.

(credit: CBS)

Some Republicans tried to change the voting to paper ballots but failed. The party did approve a platform that included a resolution saying Coloradans, on both sides of the aisle, mistrust the accuracy of election results.

The primary will take place June 28.



Shaun Boyd