Republican pundit Dick Wadhams says that newly minted Democratic lawmaker Kevin Priola’s decision to leave the Colorado Republican Party because of the party’s support of election deniers has “no credibility” because, in Colorado’s last election, the election deniers “got routed.”
State Rep. Colin Larson went further last week, calling Priola’s decision “political BS” because “[a]nyone in our party carrying the insurrectionist banner was roundly defeated” in the June primary election.
In a letter explaining his move, state Senator Priola, formerly a Republican, wrote that he didn’t want to be “part of a political party” that “continues to peddle claims that the 2020 election was stolen.”
“I was very struck in his letter about citing the election denier issue as one reason he’s leaving the party. Look what happened in Colorado,” Wadhams told KHOW’s Dan Caplis Aug. 23. “The election deniers, the conspiracy theories got routed. I mean, Ron Hanks, Tina Peters, Greg Lopez. And then I guess there were a bunch of local and state legislative primaries where the election deniers got beat. Colorado is a beacon in defeating election deniers and conspiracies. I don’t understand that. That had no credibility with me at all.”
No credibility? Political BS?
Is it credible for Priola to want to run from the Colorado Republican Party in the race to save democracy? Needless to say, if you’ve been following Colorado politics, the facts support Priola here. But in case you’ve been focused elsewhere over the past several years, I’ll explain.
The defeat of several Republican election conspiracists in Colorado, which likely came at the hands of unaffiliated voters casting ballots in Colorado’s open primary, is a hopeful sign, but it’s objectively false for Wadhams, Larson, and other conservatives to say the Colorado GOP isn’t peddling election conspiracies or that the threat GOP election conspiracists pose in Colorado has gone away.
Here are 10 facts showing that it’s credible for Priola to decide to leave the Colorado Republican Party over concerns about its support of election conspiracies.
- GOP candidate for governor Heidi Ganahl will not say the 2020 presidential election was legitimate.
- Ganahl selected Danny Moore, who has an irrefutable history as an election conspiracist, as her running mate, and hired Trump’s coup plotter Boris Epshteyn to advise her campaign.
- Kristi Burton Brown, the chair of the Colorado Republican Party, who was once the leader of an election conspiracy group, continues to dodge the question of whether the 2020 presidential election was legitimate.
- Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert is a national symbol of Republican election denialism, saying, for example, in December that “the American people deserve secure and fair elections. Unfortunately, the 2020 election was neither of those things.”
- Erik Aadland, the Republican candidate in one of the two most contested congressional races in Colorado, said the 2020 presidential election was “absolutely rigged.”
- At a convention in April, the leaders of the Colorado Republican Party from counties across the state overwhelmingly nominated election conspiracists to run for Senate, Governor, Secretary of State, and state legislative seats, including a slate of candidates around Colorado Springs. Most of these candidates were later defeated in open primaries in which unaffiliated voters participated. But still.
- Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn refused to certify the 2020 election results. He’s from Colorado Springs. But still.
- In January, two-thirds of Republicans in the Colorado Statehouse voted to “call into question” whether the 2020 presidential election was legitimate and to urge the decertification of the 2020 election results. They also thanked state Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Canon City) for being at the Jan. 6 demonstration at the U.S. Capitol, as well as those who joined him there. Representatives Baisley, Rich, Soper, and Woog walked back their votes, indicating regret in different degrees, but they didn’t completely clarify that they rejected their votes on the multiple positions reflected in the measure.
- Kenneth DeGraaf, a Republican running for Colorado Springs state House seat HD22, promotes election conspiracies on his campaign website, asking “What if Joe Biden didn’t really win the election?” He also writes that he finds Tina Peters’ “arrest for revealing Dominion vulnerabilities disturbing.”
- Steph Wheeler, GOP candidate for Denver’s House District 2, worked as the sole paid staffer of FEC United, a Colorado-based election-conspiracy group. She also refuses to say whether the 2020 national election was stolen. Wheeler is also a member of and volunteer for the United American Defense Force (UADF), a militia that’s affiliated with FEC United.
The truth is, the headline of this article could be “100 Reasons Or More Why a GOP Lawmaker Would Abandon the Colorado Republican Party for Peddling Election Conspiracies.” The facts are overwhelmingly on Priola’s side.