State Rep. Gabe Evans has been running for Colorado’s newest congressional seat since September, but despite being the most prominent Republican in the race, he’s mostly avoided bringing up the name of his party’s standard bearer, former President Donald Trump.

That changed Saturday when Adams County Republicans gathered in Brighton to conduct party business and hear from candidates, including those for Corlorado’s 8th Congressional District (CD8), north of Denver. The Colorado Times Recorder obtained recordings from the private meeting of party officers, delegates and guests.

Evans, who lives in Fort Lupton, gave a stump speech sharing his background as a soldier, police officer, and legislator before noting just how close the CD8 race is expected to be, not only in Colorado, but as one of the most competitive in the nation.

Evans then paused and addressed the elephant in the room, endorsing a Republican whose name he hasn’t mentioned much at public events and media appearances:

“I just want to clear something up right here,” said Evans. “I’ve been endorsed by the Speaker of the House [Mike Johnson], and I have been endorsed by a lot of other groups. And I support President Donald Trump. Because I know there’s been questions about that.”

Gabe Evans speaking at the Adams County Republican Assembly, March 23, 2024

His statement is notable because his campaign has been mostly devoid of references to Trump. His website mentions President Joe Biden by name no fewer than ten times, but makes no mention of his predecessor.

Evans has given multiple interviews to conservative talk radio shows, to Ross Kaminsky and Mandy Connell, among others. Trump never came up. Former KNUS host George Brauchler did ask Evans about Trump in one of the candidate’s earliest interviews following his announcement, but only in the context of whether Congress should investigate or even defund the district attorneys prosecuting him. Evans responded by questioning the impartiality of the Biden Administration’s Justice Department.

When asked during a debate in January whom he planned to vote for in Colorado’s March 5 presidential primary, Evans allowed himself some wiggle room, answering [at 48 min 20 seconds], “The individual I believe can win, which is probably President Trump.”

Evans’ embrace of Trump, who has recently ramped up his virulently anti-immigrant rhetoric, stands in contrast to his campaign so far in which he has elevated his own Mexican heritage as a reason he can beat incumbent Democrat Yadira Caraveo.

The statement nevertheless drew the loudest cheers of the morning from the decidedly MAGA-heavy crowd of Adams County GOP delegates and guests, who numbered around 120.

Evans immediately returned to his campaign against Caraveo and led with Trump’s top policy issue, the southern border.

“The things that I stand for are things that resonate with everyday Coloradans,” said Evans. “I stand for American security. And that starts at our southern border. I stand for not letting ISIS and al-Shabab sympathizers come into our country. That’s not why I spent a year in a combat zone. It’s not why I served for 10 years as a police officer. I will fight that every day. I’ve already called them out in English and Spanish, because I speak — not as good as [CD8 GOP primary candidate] Mr. Andujo, it’s not my first language — but I speak enough Spanish to make myself understood. I called them out for that three times already down at the state Capitol. Securing the southern border is not racist!”

Evans wasn’t the only CD8 candidate at the assembly. Two other congressional hopefuls also spoke to the delegates. Health insurance broker Joe Andujo and former state Senator Janak Joshi, a former doctor who had his license suspended and who recently moved into the district from Colorado Springs, both gave speeches as well. Both men are immigrants themselves, with Andujo having been born in Mexico and Joshi in India.

Andujo, like Evans, gathered and submitted at least 1,000 signatures to the Secretary of State to make the primary ballot, though neither petition has yet been verified. Joshi is choosing to use the assembly process exclusively, meaning he will need to earn 30% of the votes at the upcoming CD8 assembly, while Andujo and Evans, assuming their signatures totals are sufficient, need only garner 10% of the CD8 delegates’ votes.