A religious undercurrent was present at a rally for former state Rep. Ron Hanks, who is vying with six other Republicans to represent Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. Approximately 35 people attended the June 1 rally, which began at the parking lot of Mesa Mall in Grand Junction. From there, Hanks supporters drove across town with various flags waving from their vehicles, ending up at a Big Lots store on North Ave.

Many rallygoers wore black T-shirts that said “Make American Godly Again” and “Psalm 33.12” (with the letters MAGA lining up vertically). Other supporters wore red “Elect Ron Hanks” T-shirts. One woman wore a T-shirt with a likeness of convicted felon and former President Donald Trump, which said “Never Surrender.”

Flags fly at Ron Hanks’ MAGA rally in Grand Junction, June 1, 2024. Photo: Sharon Sullivan

Flags whipped around in the morning breeze, including American flags, Trump flags, and several related to Christian Nationalism. Of the religious banners, most notable was the “Appeal to Heaven” flag famously displayed by Jan. 6 rioters, U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson and Supreme Court Justice Samual Alito, as well as the white flag with a blue cross, and one with a Trump-themed call for action: “Make America Godly Again.”

Hanks, a Jan. 6 participant himself, hopes to replace current U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, who switched to the 4th Congressional District to increase her chances of retaining her seat after losing key endorsements following her eviction from a Beetlejuice performance at a Denver theatre.

Boebert narrowly won the last election, where her Democratic opponent Adam Frisch lost by only 546 votes. With her gone, Hanks, well-financed Grand Junction attorney Jeff Hurd, and State Board of Education member Stephen Varela of Pueblo are the three most prominent contenders. The Colorado Republican Party has endorsed Hanks, while Hurd has the backing of dark-money behemoth Americans for Prosperity.

Rally attendee Linda Gregory was decked out in a MAGA hat and an “Elect Ron Hanks” T-shirt. She said “We like Ron Hanks; we like what he believes in.” 

She called it a “sham,” the recent verdict in a New York courtroom that found Trump guilty on all 34 felony charges related to “hush money” payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, who disclosed a sexual encounter she had with Trump during his marriage to his current wife Melania. Jurors found Trump falsified documents so that the potentially damaging information would not affect his chances of victory in the 2016 Presidential election.

Ron Hanks supporters Linda Gregory (left) and Florence Naylor (right) at his MAGA rally, June 1, 2024. Photo: Sharon Sullivan

“We’re Trumpers, and he is too,” Florence Naylor, sporting the “Never Surrender” T-shirt, said of Hanks. “He (Hanks) is conservative and he stands behind Trump. He’ll help get passed whatever needs to get passed. We don’t want to lose our country. We’re losing our freedoms; Biden is acting like a dictator. He’s been calling conservatives names.”

The two women claimed President Biden has stymied free speech by invoking executive action – although, when asked, they couldn’t name that action.

Before rallygoers began their drive across town, a person led the group in prayer, which included a plea to “please help us to take our country back.” Rallygoers were then instructed to not engage in offensive behavior if they encounter opposition during their caravan, ending at Big Lots. 

“Our purpose is to put Hanks’ name out, and Jesus Christ’s,” said an organizer.

Hanks then spoke a few minutes to supporters, beginning with “My mission is so much bigger than me,” he said. “Thank you for being here – it’s an important weekend after the verdict in New York. On a conference call with people in the courtroom, they said it ‘was not unexpected, and they have an appellate group of lawyers.’” 

“It’s weaponized government, poking the citizen in the eye,” Hanks continued. “People’s patience is not endless. I’m running to keep the seat conservative and to stand with Trump. We’ve got a six-person (primary) race and none have a proven track record except me. We don’t have time to experiment. I’ve been in the State House and I will not be reaching across to them (Democrats)” – which elicited cheers from the audience.

“We need Gideon’s Army [a Biblical reference] in D.C., 300 strong conservatives; Not just 300 Gideons Army in Congress, but also you, on the ground,” Hanks said.

Vietnam veteran Alan Storey, who lives near Mack, west of Grand Junction, was there to support Hanks. When asked his opinion of Trump’s prior statements referring to military veterans as “losers and suckers,” Storey replied “I don’t like anyone bad-mouthing another person. I’m not going to say anything because that would be bad-mouthing him.

“The Holy Spirit is right here at this rally, and will guide us and direct us,” Storey said.  “I know that for a fact.”