In El Paso County, home of more Republican voters than any other county in Colorado, one might assume that the winner of the Republican primary would have a clear path to victory in November, but you would be wrong.

Following the June 28 primary elections, where voters overwhelmingly chose incumbents and moderates over the far-right fringe candidates, the losing candidates are waging a scorched earth campaign against members of their own party.

For Rep. Dave Williams (R-CO Springs), who lost his primary challenge against incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), it was largely a matter of money. “Our side was outspent,” he said during an appearance on the Chuck and Julie Show Friday. “They took our message and outspent us. The silver lining in all of this is that our message does work. It does resonate, especially with Republican primary voters and unaffiliated voters.”

Williams specifically singled out Rep. Hugh McKean (R-Loveland). “Look at Hugh McKean’s messaging,” he said. “That’s a great example. Again, Hugh McKean did not say, ‘Hey, I’m a pro-choice Republican,’ right? He did not say, ‘I’m an establishment, status quo Republican and won’t do a damn thing for you if you vote for me.’ He didn’t campaign on that. He campaigned with our message, ‘I’m a conservative. I back the blue. We need to fight crime, inflation, education,’ everything that we would talk about, he talked about. He just put money behind it.”

One of the starkest differences between the far-right slate of candidates and the winners of the June primary was their position on the 2020 election. Overwhelmingly, candidates who advocated for “election integrity” or who espoused conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election were defeated at the ballot box.

“There’s always a psyop going on to make the grassroots people feel like we’re all a bunch of nutjobs and we don’t even have a chance,” said cohost Julie Hayden.

A Lot of People Won’t ‘Vote for These Clowns

Williams suggested that the winners of June’s primary, and U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea in particular, shouldn’t count on support from the far-right faction of the party.

“They take it for granted when they win a primary,” Williams said. “They think we’re going to bend the knee and vote for them, and the truth is there’s a lot of people that are not going to vote for these clowns. Let’s take a look at Ron Hanks versus Joe O’Dea. Joe O’Dea is a pro-choice, Roe v. Wade-supporting Republican.

“I gotta tell you, I’ve never voted for a pro-choice candidate ever and I don’t intend to in 2022. He thinks he’s going to win with swing-voters, but Joe O’Dea has a problem with the Republican base, especially when they find out he would vote to codify Roe v. Wade.”

Though O’Dea has said he wouldn’t vote to overturn Roe, he has also said he would have voted to confirm the Supreme Court justices who comprise the conservative majority.

Sour grapes over the results of the primary are now impacting the El Paso County Republican Party’s main fundraising event, the Lincoln Day Dinner.

“What did the establishment do?” asked cohost Chuck Bonniwell. “Eli Bremer, who got a whopping 13 percent, … is having at his house virtually every winner of this last election. Twenty, 30 people. Everyone from Barbara Kirkmeyer, Erik Aadland, you can just go down the list of these really just revolting people. I’m going to go down to the El Paso one, just to support Vickie [Tonkins, El Paso County Republican Party chair]. It’s typical. They’re not coming to the Lincoln Day Dinner. This year they’re running it on the exact same day with all their fraudulent candidates. This is not them saying, ‘Ok, let’s all get together.’ It’s all, ‘Screw you.’”

Williams expressed support for Tonkins.  “I think in El Paso County it’s a bit elevated because there is an open civil war down here, and I think both sides, they don’t care to keep it quiet,” he said. “They’re fighting and duking it out and I encourage your listeners, go support Vickie Tonkins. She’s one of the best chairwomen we’ve had in El Paso County in a long, long time.”

Oltmann expressed outrage over Bremer’s competing Lincoln Day Dinner event during an episode of Conservative Daily last week.

To her credit, Tonkins has effectively doubled the number of Lincoln Day Dinners in El Paso County.

Bremer, who is hosting the competing event, says his event is the natural consequence of years of rhetoric from election deniers. “I think Dave Williams and Chuck probably articulately said it, they don’t support these candidates,” he said. “They think they’re fraudulent. If you’re a candidate for the general election, why would you raise money or spend time with people who won’t support you and never will? I think they’re viewing us as the problem. In reality, it’s a symptom of the problem they’ve created, which is the Republican Party in El Paso County has completely lost touch with its electorate.”

Bremer says the assembly process, which Bonniwell mocked Bremer’s performance in and which the far-right slate of candidates excelled, was not an accurate representation of the will of Republican voters. “[The Colorado Republican Assembly] was demonstrated to be totally out of touch with Colorado voters,” he said. “In many ways, I’m actually proud of that, that the best predictor of who voters would find repulsive is who won the assembly. It seems like it was an incredibly accurate predictor of who would turn off Republican voters, but that’s the level of dysfunction that we have.”

El Paso County candidates, like incumbent Coroner Dr. Leon Kelly and Lamborn challenger Rebecca Keltie, complained of bias and manipulation during the assembly process on the part of Tonkins and the El Paso County Republican Party. Douglas County podcast host and serial defamation lawsuit defendant, Joe Oltmann, bragged on his podcast Conservative Daily about “sweeping” entire assemblies. Oltmann is now claiming the primary elections in Colorado were rigged, alongside embattled Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and a host of other failed candidates.

In the El Paso County Sheriff’s race, Joe Roybal’s victory over Todd Watkins, a former Customs and Border Protection agent and member of the extremist Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, is under scrutiny for a potential violation of laws governing the gathering of ballot petition signatures.

While the Roybal matter has been referred to the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for investigation, Watkins told the Colorado Springs Independent that he thinks the GOP candidate who would compete in the November election would be chosen by a Republican party vacancy committee. Last week, Watkins supporters protested in front of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to urge further action against Roybal.

Karl Dent, who nearly knocked Rep. Mary Bradfield (R-Fountain) off the primary ballot, only to be saved by a judge’s ruling that the assembly be redone, says the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the 4th Judicial District conspired against him to bring felony charges that not only disqualified him from the Sheriff’s race but resulted in his primary loss to Bradfield. “It is my belief that the refusal to prosecute [his neighbors for trespassing in an incident related to his animal cruelty charge] was based on a political decision made by District Attorney Michael Allen who is a supporter of my opponent in an election for the Colorado House of Representatives,” he said in a news release. “Mr. Allen wanted to preserve the charges against me so that his political ally, State Representative Mary Bradfield, could use the criminal charges against me for a political purpose. State Representative Mary Bradfield did, in fact, use these charges against me in her campaign.”

The dissension and infighting will impact fundraising at this year’s El Paso County Lincoln Day Dinner. “The party has only one thing to do going forward, which is support its candidates,” said Bremer. “Given that it has signaled it has no intention of supporting these candidates, then the question is what are they going to spend the money that they raise on? No one at the party has been willing to answer that question. What are you spending the money on, if it’s not helping our candidates.”

Tonkins responded to Bremer’s claims in an email. “It is par for the course that Mr. Bremer would deem it necessary to lie about my administration stating our office is not supporting the candidates,” she said. “That is not a statement from this office and he needs to retract. This is not the first time Mr. Bremer has spewed misinformation and lies about me personally as well as my administration. It is sad his group would purposely have an event the same day as an annual fundraiser done by the local party for decades. Bremer is an individual who has not lifted a finger to work with the party when he was an Executive Committee member and now he sows division amongst Republicans as his normal mode of operation. Our [Lincoln Day Dinner] date was on the calendar for some time yet he chose to be divisive and once again boycott the official and only Lincoln Day Dinner for the El Paso County Republican Party. There is a disgruntled group of individuals, who have not worked with THE PARTY on any fundraiser nor have they given their time or treasure to help this office. They are looking for a way to be relevant at the expense of the hard work this office has done to grow the party, without their help. In the past, the grassroots have always been the worker bees for the party, and we continue to be, but this group of elite individuals, led by Bremer and his shadow party, have kicked us to the curb. These are the individuals causing division as they could have chosen another date for their event. Truly sad to see this from people who call themselves leaders. True leaders are good followers….it is not the case with this shadow party.”

Bremer says the proceeds from his event, which he says will have nearly 40 elected officials and candidates, will go toward supporting federal candidates.

“The actions of the party and their last few supporters have shown why this is becoming such an issue,” he said. “I think it is just unprecedented. It has shown that there is a huge split and there is a fringe group that has taken control of the party and has zero intent of functioning in support of Republicans and it’s the new establishment. They talk about being ‘grassroots’ — there’s nothing grassroots about them. This is an establishment, insider group that has failed every time they’ve been at the state level. They’ve failed at winning elections, and rather than saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to support our Republican candidates,’ they want to raise money for who knows what reason. But it’s not to help out the effort. I think it says a lot that our Republican elected officials, with near uniformity, have stood up and said, ‘Enough is enough.’ We don’t answer to the party, the party answers to the elected officials.”