During a radio appearance Tuesday, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eli Bremer expressed disappointment at infighting within the El Paso County GOP, saying he does not think of himself as a RINO, Republican in Name Only, a term used by Donald Trump to deride his moderate Republican critics as well as by some El Paso County GOP leaders to describe Bremer.
“And I’ll tell you, who’s not a RINO: Joe Biden is not a RINO,” Bremer said to Richard Randall on Colorado’s 740 KVOR. “Nancy Pelosi is not a RINO. Chuck Schumer is not a RINO, Michael Bennet is not a RINO. We need to be focused on taking these people out and winning this election.”
An El Paso County GOP meeting on Monday reportedly drew the attention of the Colorado Springs Police, the latest example in a hectic month of controversy within the county party.
“I was very disappointed with the people who were showing up and yelling and using a term that I just really dislike, which is RINO,” Bremer said about the meeting, which he attended as a member of the El Paso County GOP’s executive committee.
State Sen. Larry Liston (R-Colorado Springs) and Rex Tonkins, an El Paso Republican leader, were involved in an altercation during the meeting where Liston called Rex a “Thug,” three times. The investigation is ongoing.
In November, the vice-chair of the El Paso County GOP filed a campaign finance complaint against Vickie Tonkins, El Paso County GOP chair and wife of Rex Tonkins, and asked her to resign over an email pushing conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
Before hosting Bremer, Randall had former Colorado Secretary of State and current Colorado Springs City Council member Wayne Williams on his show as a guest. Williams explained Vickie Tonkins ignored party rules when promoting political allies to leadership roles within the El Paso County GOP.
In a phone call Friday, Bremer explained that Vickie Tonkins wanted to appoint district chairs to districts that, after redistricting, they would no longer live in. Williams and Bremer both said that the state party had been clear in their rules on the matter.
Williams also criticized GOP infighting and the idea of attacking so-called “establishment Republicans,” as RINOs.
“Doesn’t someone who wins county chair twice seem like part of the establishment?” Williams asked Randall, referring to Vickie Tonkins.
Last year, Vickie Tonkins called Bremer, who used to be chair of the El Paso County GOP in 2011, a RINO. Bremer was also involved in an intra-party squabble in 2020 when he butted heads with U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO).
During Monday’s El Paso County GOP meeting, Bremer was singled out again and called a RINO. Bremer explained that for the Republican party in Colorado to survive, the different factions within the party would have to stop the infighting.
“I wouldn’t tolerate the language that I heard last night out of my seven-year-old son,” Bremer told Randall. “And I think as Republicans, we need to step up to the plate just like Glenn Youngkin did. We need to continue with the policies that Donald Trump put forward. We need to talk about winning policies.”
Bremer also explained that he would always support Republicans, even if he disagreed with some of their policies. When Randall asked him if he would support whoever won the GOP primary for U.S. Senate to take on Democrat Michael Bennet in 2022, Bremer said he would.
“In 2016, I was labeled a RINO because I had the audacity to support someone named Donald Trump after he had won the party nomination,” Bremer said on air. “I’ve always said I’d support the Republican nominee. That’s why I supported Donald Trump before it was cool to do so.”
The term RINO was occasionally used to describe Republicans who supported Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
Political experts in Colorado have said Bremer’s connections to Trump will hurt him in the general election if he makes it through the GOP primary. Bremer worked for Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.
Bremer later explained that he is supportive of Trump’s policies and doesn’t believe his connections to Trump will hurt him in the election.
“I have substantially more agreement with Donald Trump than with Hillary Clinton or with Joe Biden. So elections are about choices between two people, and it was I had a fairly simple decision in that case,” Bremer said. “I typically am less into personalities and things like that. I’m very interested in policies and in the outcome of those policies. And I think that especially at this point when I’m filling up with gas paying about $1.50 more a gallon, you know, I’m more interested in the impacts of people’s policies than anything else.”
Bremer agreed that much of the Republican infighting over the past year has centered around the validity of the results of the 2020 election. While Bremer has maintained in the past that his research and conversations with experts in Colorado have shown no results of election fraud within Colorado, he has not addressed directly the results of the national election or results in other states.
Bremer explained that he still has questions over the validity of election results in other states.
“In looking at the data nationally, I think it’s very clear that this was a very abnormal election,” Bremer said. “Looking at the election results there were a lot of anomalies, and that’s just a mathematical fact.”
Specifically, Bremer wanted to emphasize the role social media companies like Facebook and Twitter have on elections. In addition, Bremer said that it is understandable for people to question election results and pointed to Democrats — such as Hillary Clinton, Stacey Abrams, and Terry McAuliffe — who have questioned the integrity of their own elections.
“Where I focus my interest is on the impact of Big Tech with their data,” Bremer said. “To me, I think that there are still some unresolved questions there around technology’s role in promoting voter turnout in various areas and things like that. … There’s no doubt, when we look at the numbers, a lot more people participated in this election and maybe people were just really excited about it. I’m deeply concerned about the fact that Twitter decided to censor various stories during the election. And so I believe in fair and open elections, and I don’t think tech monopolies should be adjudicating truth in the political system.”
While he believes there are unresolved issues with national election results, Bremer explained that he is not an expert on other states and that he takes no issue with accepting Joe Biden as president. Independent fact-checkers have overwhelmingly debunked claims of election fraud.
Bremer says that wanting transparency in the U.S. election system can be a unifying issue.
“Joe Biden is the president. I want to be really clear on that,” Bremer said. “With that said, I think our country should always be marching toward greater transparency and frankly, greater trust in the system. Because Stacey Abrams is still claiming that her election was stolen. Hillary Clinton hasn’t given up on it. When you have members of both parties who are raising concerns, then I think we just need to understand that’s not a productive place for our society to be.”
Also during the show, Randall read a text message from Bremer’s competition: Republican U.S. Senate candidate and state Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Cañon City).
“Ron Hanks here,” the text read. “I’ve been advised there have been some conversations this morning about Vickie Tompkins. The more time I spend around Vickie, the more I like. It’s hard to say that about most people in the political arena. She fights. She shows grace. She wants more engagement in the GOP by the public. She got it last night. Easily 300 people there, by my estimation.”
Listen to the full interview here: