Despite the pundits’ pleas, Heidi Ganahl just can’t quit the Big Lie.
With most political reporters highlighting Colorado Republicans’ relief at their base only electing one overt proponent of Trump’s Big Lie in Lauren Boebert, local conservative strategists and political experts are more focused on the gubernatorial nominee’s reluctance to reject the conspiracy. Case-in-point, columnist Eric Sondermann:
“Heidi Ganahl…needs to quickly demonstrate readiness for prime time,” writes Sondermann. “A starting point would be to offer a simple, clear, declarative sentence on the validity of Joe Biden’s election. That is a task that has, so far, eluded her.”
Ganahl’s refusal to reject the Big Lie has been an issue since the launch of her campaign when she snapped at 9News’ Marshall Zelinger for asking the question.
On Tuesday 9News posted its raw footage of the press gaggle immediately following Ganahl’s primary win. The Q&A portion lasted less than two minutes. Why so short? Nearly ten months into her campaign, Ganahl still refuses to plainly say the 2020 election wasn’t stolen. It was only the second question reporters asked and yet just 60 seconds later, her spokesperson pulled the plug.
Reporter: Do you believe there was fraud in the 2020 election?
Ganahl: You know, I want to move forward. I want to bring us together in this state. The most important thing we can do around election integrity is A) ask people to get involved to be election judges and poll watchers, but B) to provide transparency. What Jena Griswold and the legislature did with this recent legislation was stop that- they made it harder to be transparent. They took power away from county clerks and gave it to the Secretary of Sate’s office. That doesn’t bode well for making people confident in our elections. There are a lot of people who feel unsettled about all the elections, so we’ve got to do whatever we can to change that. That’s the bedrock of our democracy.
Reporter: But were you confident in the results of the 2020 election?
Ganahl: I’ve already answered that question many times. We’re moving forward and we’re talking about the ’22 election from here on out.
Reporter: Speaking of that election, Tina Peters is already claiming there was fraud in today’s election, can you respond to that?
Ganahl: I’m focused on my election. I’m excited. I’m proud. We’re going to enjoy the evening and then we’re going to get to work first thing tomorrow morning on beating Jared Polis.
Spokesperson: [off-camera] That’s it, guys. Thank you!
Sondermann repeated his point on air to CPR’s Ryan Warner yesterday, who asked him if the question will dog Heidi Ganahl in the general election.
“This will dog Heidi Ganahl until she deals with it and she needs to deal with it in a few simple declarative sentences that she has been unwilling to issue so far in this campaign,” said Sondermann. “Now as her party’s nominee Ganahl has one opportunity over the coming weeks to make a first impression on a whole lot of voters who haven’t been tuned into this race…She has an opportunity to set things right, but for some reason she is either unable or unwilling to speak in those simple declarative sentences.
“She no longer has to worry about that Trump base of her party- she’s now the nominee. If she is going to have any chance…she has to be able to rise to the occasion, more than we have seen so far. This is a state that has never warmed to Trump and where the opinions about January 6th are not in doubt. As long as Heidi Ganahl indicate doubt about that, her candidacy has little chance.”
Sondermann isn’t the only political expert offering the Ganahl campaign free advice. Former state GOP executive director Ryan Lynch was even more blunt in his suggestion:
“I think in the case of both Heidi and Joe O’Dea, they can, you know, for lack of a better term, drop the act,” said Lynch. “We can drop the conspiracy theories, and we can focus on what’s real and what’s actually impacting Coloradans.”
Following Ganahl’s Day One debacle with Zelinger, conservative columnist Krista Kafer was among the first to call her out for refusing to publicly accept President Biden’s legitimacy.
“Ganahl must be willing to risk losing [Big Lie] Republicans in order to win,” wrote Kafer. “There was no evidence of massive fraud during the last election… Every GOP leader who sees the truth needs to speak in its defense because the Big Lie conspiracy theory undermines American faith in democracy.”
Lynch’s plea for Ganahl and O’Dea to “drop the act” assumes that the candidates are, in fact, acting. Kafer restricted her admonishments to leaders “who see the truth.”
At this point, it’s fair to ask if, when it comes to the Big Lie, perhaps Ganahl isn’t acting and doesn’t see the truth.