The GOP primary race for Colorado’s new congressional seat is ripe to turn into an uproarious circular firing squad but so far there’s only been sniping and minor skirmishes among the Republicans.
It’s impossible to know who has the upper hand in the race, say experts. It features four candidates with overlapping stances on some key issues — and agreement on others — as well as varying cash and name-recognition advantages.
On top of all that, with highly-motivated Republicans and less-enthused independent voters both allowed to vote in the GOP primary, per Colorado law, voter turnout is a giant question mark.
The normal path for candidates of either party in this situation is to start attacking one another, sooner rather than later, to differentiate themselves, say experts.
That’s already begun to happen in this race but so far, overall, the candidates have held back on serious attacks — which is ironic given that three of the candidates characterize themselves as fighters.
The first shot came from State Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer at Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, the two candidates who are expected to rake in the most cash in the primary race, but are so far lagging behind Tyler Allcorn, a former Green Beret.
Kulmann accused Kirkmeyer of not supporting term limits: “Join me Barb! Sign the term limits pledge,” said Kulmann in a statement. Kirkmeyer spokesman Alan Philp denied the accusation, telling Colorado Politics Ernest Luning that Kirkmeyer supports term limits but won’t sign a “hollow pledge.” In fact, Kirkmeyer has supported congressional term limits.
Kirkmeyer took a gentle swipe last month when she touted herself as supporting Trump longer than any of her opponents: “I am the only candidate in this race who supported and campaigned for Donald Trump in the 2016 and 2020 primary and general elections,” wrote Kirkmeyer. Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine and Republican gadfly Chuck Bonniwell said that’s not true.
The candidates aren’t yet competing to be the biggest election conspiracist. Saine comes closest when she expresses support for indicted Mesa Clerk Tina Peters and says Saine is the only Republican in the race who’s worked on “election integrity issues for nearly a decade now.” She baselessly says non-citizens are voting in Colorado. Kirkmeyer says the 2020 election was legitimate. Kulmann steadfastly refuses to say what she thinks. Alcorn also dodges the question.
On abortion, the competition is between Kirkmeyer and Saine, who emphasize this issue repeatedly, promoting their extreme anti-abortion stances but not attacking one another on the topic. Allcorn and Kulmann don’t even list abortion as a priority issue on their websites.
On immigration, all four candidates take a hard line on policies for undocumented issues. So there’s not much sparring, though there is some room for it as Kulmann is more supportive of “Dreamers” and adopts softer tone.
The candidates seem to hold similar positions on crime, frequently attacking Democrats — not each other — for being soft on the issue.
They also attack Democrats, not each other, on guns and the economy too — with guns being more of a campaign theme for Kirkmeyer and Saine.
The winner of the race will take on Democrat Yadira Caraveo to represent the district, which lies mostly north of Denver. An eighth congressional district was assigned to Denver after the 2020 Census.