Election rejection is a lost message as Centrist Republicans sweep the Colorado primary

Heidi Janal, a candidate for governor, also triumphed. Janal declined to give her opinion on the 2020 national election, while her opponent, Greg Lopez, repeated false allegations.

And in the state’s Secretary of State race, voters completely dismissed Tina Peters, a Mesa County clerk who is facing criminal charges for allegedly tampering with her county’s electoral systems while searching for evidence of false theories. Instead, they nominated Pam Anderson, a former Jefferson County writer who is highly respected among her peers and who has repeatedly expressed confidence in the current election system.

“This is the GOP voters who’ve been waiting,” said House Minority Leader Hugh McCain, who also survived a fundamental challenge from the right. “This is the GOP talking about what matters to families: What is the cost of living?”

Andrew Kenny/CPR News
Senate Republican candidate Joe O’Dea declares victory in his party on election night, June 28, 2022.

Some voters agreed, saying they wanted candidates who could win elections, not just pass ideological tests.

“Electibility is a huge issue. And suffrage equals the ability to moderate and compromise. Especially in Colorado. Even though it is more conservative than it is with regard to abortion, Lexi Taffin, a Douglas County elector who supported O’Dea, said, “Colorado is a fairly moderate state.”

All races were settled early into the night by convincing margins, allowing centrist Republicans to breathe a sigh of relief.

“I think there was a lot of hand-to-hand squabbling across Colorado by Republicans this evening,” Republican counsel Cinnamon Watson said. “We are looking to the future.”

Democratic attempts to select candidates are empty

Just hours before the polls closed, the picture was much less clear. Founding campaigns spent far more money than their competitors — but the waters were muddled by millions of dollars in additional spending from outside groups.

A coalition of Democratic-aligned groups has aired an onslaught of ads that misled the “conservative” qualifications of right-wing candidates such as Lopez and Hanks. The obvious goal was to advance candidates who would be easier for the Democrats to win in the general election.

“If my Democratic friends had succeeded in interfering in this Republican primaries to nominate weak candidates for them to run against in November, I think it would have been a challenge to my party and the state,” the former Republican said. Government. Bill Owens in an interview.

“But tonight, voters spent, frankly, millions of dollars spent in that intervention,” Owens continued.

Democratic attorney Doug Friedenach, who served as former Governor John Hickenlooper’s chief of staff, defended the party’s use of these tactics.

“The Democrats didn’t write this playbook,” he said. “I think it’s smart. (The question) is whether people think this is ethical or not. I think it’s a tool in the toolbox and something that was smart to do. If they succeeded in making these investments, they would save a lot of money and put a stand and put their candidates to win. “.

But tonight’s results have others question whether democratic tactics have provoked a backlash.

Byron McElhenney, a 66-year-old unaffiliated voter who tends to be conservative, said he voted for Janal and O’Day in the Senate primary. He wanted to make sure that liberal spending did not affect the race.

“I want Republicans to win this election cycle,” he said, adding that immigration control was his most important issue. “I think as long as there are no big surprises, I think they will win this year.”

Unaffiliated voters like McElhenney may be the key to the centrist candidates’ victories. They participated in record numbers in the Republican primary. These unaffiliated voters, Owens said, “helped moderate the process and gave us much better candidates in November than we would have otherwise.”

Altogether, unaffiliated voters made up more than 30 percent of Republican voters, compared to about 20 percent in 2018. Several unaffiliated voters told CPR News that they jumped into GOP contests in order to defeat extremist candidates.

220628-PRIMARY-GANAHLHart Van Denburg / CPR News
Heidi Ganall reacts when she learns she won the Colorado Republican primary for governor, and speaks to supporters at the Wide Open Saloon Observation Gala in Sedalia, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. She will face incumbent Democratic Governor Jared Polis in the fall.

“It looks like they broke badly for Joe O’Day and maybe even Heidi (Janal) and Pam Anderson. They seem to have had a tremendous impact on the outcome tonight,” said Kyle Kohli, CEO of the conservative Compass Colorado Group.

In fact, some candidates cited independent voters as key to the Republicans’ success in November.

“Colorado wants its leaders to be independent,” O’Dea said. “And that is why the Independents are showing up tonight, when they count. They voted for me in this primaries and we will work hard to keep them in our coalition.”

Addressing the Republican Dispute

As the night ended, the candidates looked forward to the general election. Voters will generally focus on the idea that Gov. Jared Polis, President Joe Biden, and Senator. Michael Bennett made life more expensive for Colorado while failing to fight crime.

But they still faced a rift within their party.

“There’s this distancing from the institutional branch of the Republican Party,” said Gary Carlyle, 62, a Republican who ran for Lopez and Hanks in Colorado Springs on Tuesday.

The Republicans in the establishment, he said, “are paid to play, while these are the Patriots.” He said it would be madness to continue to nominate Republican institutions while expecting different results.

One of the losing right-wing candidates, Tina Peters, tried to blame her loss on baseless cries of election fraud.

Turnout for this year’s GOP primaries is on course to be a little higher than it was in the last midterm elections in 2018. Meanwhile, turnout in the Democratic primaries — which has seen a few contested races — is lower. much.

CPR News reporters Tony Gorman and Bent Birkeland contributed to this article.

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