At a joint fundraiser in Colorado Springs Wednesday night, three Republican candidates for Colorado offices urged their supporters to unite under the cause of fraud in the 2020 election and to stir doubt in the upcoming elections — even if that means going against members of their own party.

“We are doing the peaceable, best effort we possibly can to try and regain control of the government,” said U.S. Senate hopeful Ron Hanks at the gathering of about 75 people. “Both parties are corrupt, and we have to do what we’re doing tonight — we have to bring three or four people that are like-minded like us and go to caucus and take over a political party and start pushing an agenda.”

Hanks implied that violence may be on the horizon if he and his allies run out of other options to press their baseless case that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

Watkins, Winney, Hanks

“Anything is worth a try because it’s what keeps us from violence,” Hanks told supporters at the fundraiser, which included a silent auction and snacks. “We are going to hit a point here where there is no more things to try, and that’s where things get dangerous to me.”

Pro-Trump candidates Hanks, David Winney (running Colorado Secretary of State), and Todd Watkins (running for El Paso County Sheriff) attempted to unify their supporters around Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was fraudulent, despite recent disagreements about whether to do so from within their own party.

“I didn’t hope to get in a fight with my own party before I got in a fight with the Democrats, but here we are,” Hanks said at the event, hosted by Lindsay Moore and Laurel Anne Flahive.

Hanks, who represents a Canon City in the state House, added that members of his own party are pulling Republican members of the House away from aligning themselves with figures like My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell and other election fraud conspiracy theorists.

Winney, running against Democrat Jena Griswold, suggested repairing the election system in the state by scrapping the voter rolls, starting from scratch, and replacing all voting machines within Colorado with what he describes as “secure election processes,” as well as a comprehensive forensic audit of Colorado’s election processes.

Hanks claimed most Americans were coming around to believing claims of voter fraud and that by spring it would be a “supermajority.” Such claims are, in fact, baseless.

“Democrats are going down. It’s going to be like Watergate for the Democrats, and when they’re drowning, they’re going to be grabbing Republicans,” Hanks said, as the crowd applauded and shouted various names of Republicans who have turned their backs on supporting the Big Lie.

The El Paso Republican Party erupted into internal conflict last week over venue location and seat appointments to chair positions, according to a report from the Colorado Springs Independent.

El Paso GOP Chair Vickie Tonkins was accused of trying to oust establishment Republicans during meetings for FEC United, a conservative election conspiracy group that has an associated militia. Its founder, Joe Oltmann, has championed and repeated Trump’s Big Lie.

The event included short speeches from each candidate promoting their individual campaigns under the common goal of fomenting doubt in the integrity of the 2020 election and, potentially, elections in 2022 and 2024.

The three candidates acknowledged the issue of election conspiracy has divided the party and made a point to distinguish themselves from establishment Republicans who may accept the 2020 election results.

Right now, Hanks said, the goal is to gain as much support for their cause as possible.

“It’s numbers,” Hanks said. “It’s us getting to the caucuses and the primaries and voting — not voting for people who don’t even want to talk about election integrity or mandates because that is huge.”

One audience member asked the candidates whether any action would be taken against companies that fired employees for not following a vaccine mandate. The process would be slow and painful, Hanks replied, and may only ever lead to civil action down the road, but he promised the payoff would be “ruinous” to those companies in the long run.

When asked what the chances were that those accused of election fraud would see jail time, Watkins responded, “probably slim to none.” He distinguished the role of sheriff and law enforcement, what he would be able to control, from the decisions of district attorneys, prosecutors, and attorneys general.

“But I do think there is incredible value in building a case and presenting a case and let them turn it down for all to see,” Watkins said. 

Hanks is a self-described “Pro-Trump Warrior” who has centered his campaign around election fraud conspiracy and the Big Lie. A 32-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Hanks was first elected to Colorado’s House of Representatives in 2020. In February, state Rep. Donald Valdez (D-San Luis Valley), who’s running to oust Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, called for Hanks to be expelled from the House for his support of the Big Lie and his presence at the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Hanks says he has attended multiple ballot recounts in the wake of the 2020 general election and has promoted false claims of election fraud. He vows to stop “out-of-control government” and to “restore election integrity” and the “rule of law” against “socialist insiders.”

Hanks is a plaintiff in a civil suit filed against Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold alleging “destruction of election records, failure to properly test voting equipment, and obstruction of independent election audits.”

Similar claims have been roundly rejected by the courts and investigators.

Hanks also promised to restore his own political party and has rallied supporters to question Republicans who refuse to support the Big Lie. His campaign indicates his desire to mobilize people against both Democrats and Republicans. Hanks vowed to support Donald Trump and the former president’s agenda. During a Dec. 1 rally in Grand Junction, Hanks referred to Biden as an “unelected installed agent of a foreign power.”

A self-described America-First candidate, Winney supports the Big Lie and attended the same rally in Grand Junction Dec. 1, which aimed to boost support for Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and Garfield County resident Sherronna Bishop, both of whom are under investigation by the FBI for breaches of election security protocols.

On his campaign website, Winney promises to “unravel the chaos of fraudulent election and ensure every vote is counted.”

Watkins, a former border patrol agent and U.S. Army veteran, pinning himself as “the people’s sheriff,” vows to take initiative within the role of sheriff to protect the county from mandates he deems is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

A supporter of Trump and the Big Lie, Watkins believes the sheriff should have the final say within his county whether a federal or state mandate is constitutional and should be practiced.

On his campaign website, Watkins states that the current officials within El Paso County who are responsible for ensuring election integrity do not have the will or wherewithal to properly investigate alleged voter fraud. He believes it is the sheriff’s duty to take and consider the evidence of voter fraud and pursue criminal investigations “predicated on reasonable suspicion of unlawful actions.”