When most people in Denver think about “Colorado Springs Republicans,” what comes to mind is gay-hating, Trump-loving, election-denying, abortion-banning, modernity-rejecting, circular-firing-squadding extremists. It’s the brand, right, with the city’s history of Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs Gazette’s screaming red editorials, the Christian nationalist churches, and more, even the military.


So, if you believe the brand, the GOP congressional primary race in Colorado Springs, featuring Jeff Crank, a former right-wing radio host, and Dave Williams, the Trump-endorsed chair of the Colorado Republican Party, will be won by the most extreme, Trumpiest candidate.

That would be Williams over Crank, whom Trump allies call a God-forsaken RINO (Republican in Name Only) due to his work with slightly more moderate Republican groups. “Enough cranks in Congress,” Boebert said when she endorsed Williams.

But don’t count Williams winning. Williams-type Republicans have face-planted before in El Paso County and could face-plant again. There’s precedent for establishment GOP figures winning in Republican primaries in El Paso County when they go up against MAGA crazies.

In the 2022 primary election, GOP extremist Joe Oltmann helped assemble and promote a slate of fellow extremists who, in Oltmann’s words, “were able to sweep” the GOP assemblies and were expected to win the June primaries, just like many expect Williams to win this year in June.

And what happened in the 2022 primary, when the right-wing slate went up against more establishment “RINO” Republicans?


They lost. In the words of victorious El Paso Coroner Leon Kelly, the “RINOs” on the primary ballot kicked “the crap out of conspiracy theorists.”

Others who won in the 2022 primary included El Paso County Commissioners Cami Bremer and Holly Williams, El Paso County Sheriff Joe Roybal, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Steve Schleiker. They all triumphed over MAGA extremists of various stripes.

And perhaps most relevant: U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) fended off a primary challenge from then Colorado Rep. Dave Williams, the same Dave Williams who’s running against Crank, who’s retiring at the end of his term

Lamborn has endorsed Crank in the GOP primary this year.

“It feels really good to be victorious tonight,” said Lamborn in 2022 after he trounced Dave Williams.

The current Crank-Williams primary race doesn’t replicate the exact dynamics of the fight between the Oltmann slate and the RINOs in 2022. Lamborn, for example, was an incumbent congressman, of course, who would be expected to stomp on Williams.

Williams may pull an elephant out of his hat and figure out a way to use the inept and broke state Republican party, which he leads, to advance his candidacy. He’s trying, for sure.

Still, there are enough similarities between the primary results two years ago and today’s contests to make it clear, despite what you might think in your Denver bubble, that the most extreme candidate in the Colorado Springs race doesn’t necessarily have the advantage on June 25.

CORRECTION: This article initially stated incorrectly that Tom Tancredo represented Colorado Springs.