COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Colorado Republicans on Saturday voted to place on their U.S. Senate primary ballot a state representative who attended the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the attack on the U.S. Capitol and is a supporter of former President Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 presidential election.
The gathering is a key step toward garnering the party's nomination to face Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in November. State Rep. Ron Hanks was the lead choice of 3,700 delegates to the state GOP's assembly, winning 39% of the vote. His only GOP rival in the June 28 Republican Senate primary will be businessman Joe O'Dea, who chose to circulate petitions to get on the ballot rather than go through the assembly.
“I fully expected Donald Trump to win in 2020 — and he did,” Hanks, who has made the election his central issue, said to resounding cheers from the crowd at an arena in Colorado Springs. “When we saw what we saw on election night in 2020, it changed everything just like the changes we felt after 9/11.”
The gathering showed how central Trump's election lies are to the party faithful, even as repeated audits and reviews — including by Trump's own Justice Department — have found no significant voter fraud in the contest.
The assembly passed a resolution calling for an end to Colorado’s universal mail voting system, under which every voter is sent a ballot through the mail.
Hanks' supporters also rallied around Tina Peters, a clerk in a western Colorado county who has been indicted for her alleged role in the copying of confidential voting data that has been posted widely by Trump supporters online.
Peters, who was barred by a judge from overseeing last year's local elections, is running for the GOP nomination for Colorado's top elections office, secretary of state. She won 61% of the vote at Saturday's events. Two other Republican candidates — businessman Michael O'Donnell, who came in second at Saturday's assembly, and Pam Anderson, a former suburban county clerk who avoided the assembly and filed petitions backing her candidacy, will also be on the June ballot for the GOP nomination.
Greg Lopez, a former mayor of a Denver suburb, was the top vote-getter for the party's gubernatorial nomination after promising to pardon Peters if he were 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 Gov. Jared Polis.
Candidates for statewide office must receive support from at least 30% of the delegates to be placed on the primary ballot, or circulate petitions gathered in each of the state's eight congressional districts. Five other Republican Senate hopefuls split the remaining votes evenly, with none clearing the critical 30% threshold, ending their campaigns.
An Air Force veteran and former military intelligence officer, Hanks has quickly become a polarizing figure in Colorado politics after winning election to the statehouse in 2020. He has made questioning the election his top issue, visiting the erratic, Trump-backed review of the election in Arizona's largest county and filing a lawsuit against the state's Democratic secretary of state, Jena Griswold, to compel a similar review of Colorado's election system.
His rival, O'Dea, has instead focused his campaign on economics and social issues.