By NICHOLAS RICCARDI – Associated Press
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Republicans in Colorado voted on Saturday to put on their U.S. Senate primary ballot a state representative who attended the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the attack on the U.S. Capitol and who supports former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential election.
The rally is a key step toward securing the party’s nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennett in November. State Rep. Ron Hanks was the first choice of 3,700 delegates to the state’s GOP assembly, winning 39 percent of the vote. His only GOP rival in the June 28 Republican Senate primary will be businessman Joe O’Dea, who has chosen to circulate petitions to get elected rather than go through the assembly.
“I fully expected Donald Trump to win in 2020 – and he did,” said Hanks, who has made the election his central issue, to resounding cheers from the crowd in a Colorado arena Springs. “When we saw what we saw on election night in 2020, it changed everything, just like the changes we felt after 9/11.”
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The rally showed how central Trump’s election lies are to party loyalists, even though repeated audits and reviews — including by Trump’s own Justice Department — have found no significant voter fraud in the competition.
The assembly passed a resolution calling for an end to Colorado’s universal mail-in voting system, under which every voter receives a ballot in the mail.
Hanks supporters also rallied around Tina Peters, a western Colorado county employee who has been indicted for her alleged role in copying confidential voting data that was widely published online by the Trump supporters.
Peters, who was barred by a judge from overseeing last year’s local elections, is running for the GOP nomination for Colorado’s office of elections, secretary of state. She won 61% of the vote in Saturday’s events. Two other Republican candidates – businessman Michael O’Donnell, who came second in Saturday’s assembly, and Pam Anderson, a former suburban county clerk who avoided assembly and filed petitions supporting her candidacy, will also be on the June ballot for the GOP nomination.
Greg Lopez, a former mayor of a Denver suburb, was the top voter for the party’s gubernatorial nomination after promising to pardon Peters if elected governor. He and University of Colorado board member Heidi Ganahl will face off in the June primary. The winner will challenge Democratic Governor Jared Polis.
Candidates for statewide office must receive the support of at least 30% of delegates to be registered in the primary ballot or circulate petitions collected in each of the state’s eight congressional districts. Five other Republican Senate candidates split the remaining votes evenly, with none crossing the critical 30% threshold, ending their campaigns.
An Air Force veteran and former military intelligence officer, Hanks quickly became a polarizing figure in Colorado politics after winning the 2020 state House election in Colorado’s largest county. Arizona and filed a lawsuit against the state’s Democratic Secretary of State, Jena Griswold, to compel a similar review of Colorado’s electoral system.
His rival, O’Dea, instead focused his campaign on the economy and social issues.
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