Colorado GOP primary has state candidate pushing false Trump claims

Tuesday’s primary is the latest battleground between GOP officials buying into the widespread voter fraud allegations being pushed by Donald Trump and mainstream Republicans who reject those false claims.

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  • On Tuesday, Colorado voters will nominate Democratic and GOP candidates for secretary of state.
  • Mesa County Republican Tina Peters outperformed her opponents in the Secretary of State primary.

DENVER– Tina Peters, Mesa County Clerk continues to outrage her opponents in Colorado’s GOP secretary of state primary, despite being charged with seven counts related to voter fraud, called by her own party to suspend her campaign and prevented by a judge to oversee his county’s elections this year.

Peters’ main challenger in Tuesday’s primary is moderate Republican Pam Anderson, a longtime election official and former Jefferson County clerk who rejects former President Donald Trump’s false claims about a stolen election that Peters embraces. . Anderson has raised nearly $107,000 since October, compared to the $166,000 Peters has raised since joining the race in February, according to financial disclosure reports as of May 31.

This primary represents the latest chapter in a new rift within the GOP, a party torn between support for Trump’s perpetuated claims of widespread voter fraud and those who reject those baseless claims. What remains is a tussle between pro-Trump far-right loyalist candidates and more mainstream Republicans for GOP primary nominations.

Colorado State Sen. Kevin Priola, the only Republican state lawmaker to co-sponsor a Democratic bill barring anyone convicted of voter fraud-related charges from running for office, said thought Trump’s grip on the GOP might “start to slip.” a way.”

“The question is, is this happening fast enough that rational, reasonable, and fair conservative Republicans can actually win primary elections?”

Peters’ claims that Colorado’s 2021 municipal election results were ‘erased’ and former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election also have implications beyond the GOP, say politicians from both parties .

They damaged voter confidence in the state’s electoral process, said Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who is running for re-election and faced no opposition in her primary.

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“We see the lies being internalized and many people losing faith in our democratic institutions,” Griswold said. “The failed attempt in 2020 to steal the presidency did not stop. He just moved on to 2022 and 2024.”

She also said Peters has “become a national figure in pushing disinformation and poses a risk to the US election and the Colorado election.”

Indicted clerk runs for secretary of state

Although Peters is a strong supporter of Trump, Peters did not receive the former president’s endorsement.

In an exclusive interview, Peters said, “I’m not looking for endorsements. If anyone wants to approve of me, that’s their privilege. A Trump spokesperson has not commented on whether an endorsement for Peters is forthcoming.

Peters is also part of the America First coalition, a conservative group of GOP candidates across the country promoting Trump’s false claims of voter fraud who are running for secretary of state. In most states, the secretary’s office oversees the conduct of elections.

After: Republican county clerk indicted by Colorado grand jury for election tampering

The indicted clerk said she went to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in May to attend a fundraiser for Arizona Secretary of State GOP nominee Mark Finchem (who has won Trump’s endorsement) and for an advance screening of a film by conservative director Dinesh D’Souza. Peters said she did not discuss running for secretary of state or share her concerns about the 2020 election results with Trump.

In addition to challenging the 2020 results, Peters said she believes voter information was “wiped” from hard drives during the state mayoral elections under Griswold’s leadership. Griswold’s spokeswoman said that before each election, county clerks like Peters are required to perform routine software updates in which election records are erased for the machines, but are first copied and stored elsewhere.

Prosecutors say the Mesa County Clerk also allegedly had someone copy the hard drives from his county’s Dominion Voting election machines. Information about the equipment and passwords was later leaked, the lead prosecutor in the Peters case said.

Peters said she no longer trusts the state’s voting system.

“Not as long as we use these (Dominion) machines. Not at all,” she said. “And not while we have the Secretary of State (Griswold) authorizing these malicious deletions of election records.”

What charges is Peters facing?

No trial date has been set for Peters, who is charged with seven crimes including attempting to influence public officials, criminal impersonation, identity theft and conspiracy.

She is charged with three misdemeanors for official misconduct, breach of election duty, and failure to follow orders imposed by Colorado’s secretary of state. She also faces legal action over a variety of other issues, including a dispute with her ex-husband over the deed to a Colorado home.

Given the complexity of the investigation, the judge will likely wait another three or four months before asking Peters’ legal team to enter a plea so the case can be scheduled for trial, the prosecutor said. of Mesa County, Dan Rubinstein. It is therefore unlikely that a trial will begin before the November general election.

Peters faces more than 20 years in prison if convicted.

Rubinstein suspects Peters’ team is opting for a defense that they chose the lesser of two evils by acting in response to a perceived threat to election security.

“In Colorado, the choice of defenses against evils is rooted in the idea that it was necessary as an emergency measure to commit this offense, and that there were no legal options available” , did he declare.

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“Given the timing of everything here, I think it will be difficult for Ms Peters to present this as an effective defence.”

However, indicted Mesa County Clerk Peters expressed confidence in his legal team’s strategy.

“I have a really amazing legal team. They looked at the indictment transcripts and they laughed. They literally laughed.”

Moderate Republican county clerk battling Peters for GOP nomination

Peters’ GOP opponent, Pam Anderson, said she was not interested in an endorsement from Trump. “There are things about the (former) president that I agree with…his stance on the election is not one of them.

A former Jefferson County and municipal clerk, Anderson rejects Trump’s rhetoric about the 2020 election. the time, Joe Biden.

Anderson was endorsed by Griswold’s predecessor, former Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who replaced Peters as Mesa County Elections Officer after she was barred from overseeing this year’s election.

Anderson said the job of secretary of state is a professional job that should be devoid of “hyperpartisan rhetoric.”

“I consider it (also) important to bring professionals back into these offices and to maintain this fair arbiter, not only for elections but also for other operations,” Anderson said.

“I think it puts a lot of fuel on the fire of mistrust if you take such a polarizing position on either side of the aisle as an elected official.”

Incumbent secretary steps up re-election push, state lawmakers push election security bill

Whoever clinches the GOP nomination in the primaries will face Griswold on Nov. 8.

Griswold had already raised a record $2.67 million per month starting in the June 28 Democratic primary, in which she is unopposed.

Elected in 2018, Griswold is the first Democrat to win the office since 1963, beating incumbent Republican Wayne Williams 52.7% to 44.7%.

After: Trump must have known he was spreading a ‘big lie,’ says January 6 committee member Jamie Raskin

Griswold backed a bill that would bar those convicted of voter fraud-related charges from being on the ballot. With Peters’ trial date still pending, Democrats who control the state legislature are working to push the bill through before the general election.

The Colorado Republican Party has voiced its opposition to Peters’ campaign with only one GOP state senator — Priola — supporting the measure.

Republican lawmakers are reluctant to go along with the bill because of the large number of voters who believe the false claims and lies about voter fraud, Priola said.

Without the bill passing or a court conviction, Peters remains on the ballot.

Griswold and other lawmakers recognize Peters as an influential candidate and a strong opponent who continues to influence right-wing supporters to rally behind her.

“We’re seeing election officials across the country adopting conspiracies and, ironically, becoming a security threat themselves,” Griswold said.

Like Griswold and Priola, state Rep. Susan Lontine, a Democrat, believes Peters’ actions inspired others to buy into the myth of voter fraud. She pointed to a recent incident in which an Elbert County clerk made two copies of the Dominion Voting System election server.

“What Tina Peters has done is she’s allowed the Big Lie to have what people believe is kind of a base in fact,” Lontine said. “And it’s really difficult to deal with because you can’t bring in a bill to defeat that.”

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