David Winney, a Republican, dropped his quest to be Colorado’s Secretary of State Friday, throwing his support to Tina Peters, the embattled Mesa County County Clerk, who announced her entrance into the race on former Trump advisor Steve Bannon’s podcast Feb. 14.
Winney says he’ll now run for El Paso County commissioner.
After entering the Secretary of State race last summer, Winney quickly garnered national and local sport from election conspiracy groups, such as the Conservatives for Election Integrity (CFEI) PAC, which is led by Nevada Secretary of State candidate Jim Marchant. Candidates endorsed by the CFEI PAC are running on a platform of election conspiracy.
Merchant and the CFEI PAC have ties to MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who, prior to Peters’ entrance into the race, had indicated he was open to endorsing Winney along with other Colorado candidates, including U.S. Senate candidate Ron Hanks of Canon City, congressional candidate Dave Williams of Colorado Springs, and statehouse hopefuls.
Hanks, Williams, and other Republican activists, such as election conspiracist Joe Oltmann, leader of FEC United, appeared multiple times with Winney at campaign-like events. They rallied in support of Peters, who was hailed as a hero for her alleged criminal involvement in the leak of election information.
But Peters’ unexpected entrance into the Secretary of State race last month “surprised” Winney, who said he wasn’t told about it in advance, but he said it was an “honor” to share the stage with Peters over the past weeks as they campaigned together. He has the highest respect for Peters, he said.
Lindell has since essentially endorsed Peters, telling a crowd of fellow election conspiracists in Colorado Springs last month, “She is gonna be the best Secretary of State.” He also called Peters the “prototype of people who we should have running for office.”
After discussions with his wife and guidance from his faith, Winney decided to drop out and back Peters, concluding that his role was to “pave the path for Tina.”
And so, at the Fervent Chuch in Colorado Springs on Friday night, Winney announced his candidacy for El Paso County Commissioner.
The promotion of baseless election conspiracies will still be the focus of his campaign.
“The messaging doesn’t change a bit,” he told the Colorado Times Recorder, “because election integrity is central to the county commissions,” citing the commissions’ role in authorizing contracts for voting machines and equipment. He believes some contracts may be illegal under TABOR rules.
Winney believes through his travels across the state, he’s “won hearts and minds in a lot of people in El Paso County,” and he’s looking forward to his commissioner campaign.
On Saturday, Peters was already citing Winney’s support publicly, telling Republican caucus-goers in Grand Junction that Winney “stepped down to support me.”
Sharon Sullivan contributed to this report.