Three of the Colorado Republicans who unsuccessfully sought this year’s U.S. Senate nomination formally endorsed congressional candidate Erik Aadland on Thursday, calling the West Point graduate the Republicans’ best chance to win the open 7th District seat.
Aadland, who jumped from the U.S. Senate race to the congressional primary in December, announced that former rivals Eli Bremer, Gino Campana and Greg Moore are supporting him ahead of the June 28 primary election. [Pols emphasis]
This story reads like it could be from “The Onion,” but it is nonetheless factually accurate. Three people who couldn’t even make it onto the Primary ballot in the race for U.S. Senate say that Erik Aadland gives Republicans their best chance at winning in CO-07. Because if anyone knows what it takes to win an election, it’s these three guys!
Erik Aadland, thoroughly contemplating.
Naturally, Aadland’s campaign then put all of this in a press release and sent it out to actual reporters.
As you may recall, Aadland started the 2022 election cycle as a candidate for U.S. Senate, a campaign that probably peaked with the endorsement of former Congressman Tom Tancredo last October. Aadland left the Senate race in December to run in CO-07 instead, where he now faces a GOP Primary against Tim “Demon Guy” Reichert and Laurel Imer for the chance to take on Democrat Brittany Pettersen in November.
[SIDE NOTE: Unfortunately for Aadland, Tancredo had already endorsed Imer in CO-07, so he couldn’t keep the Tanc’s endorsement in his new race. Tancredo later endorsed Gino Campana in the U.S. Senate race, because of course he did.]
As Luning writes, Eli Bremer, Gino Campana, and Greg Moore all say they “were impressed with Aadland when they were running against him for the Senate nomination, citing ‘the depths of his intelligence, empathy, and thorough contemplation.'” Reichert and Imer were apparently only capable of moderate contemplation.
The only other question left is this: Should Aadland not win the GOP nomination in C0-07, will the “Three Amigos” enthusiastically endorse Reichert or Imer next?
This week in episode 107 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii welcome back Christy Powell once more for the latest news on fundraising numbers for statewide races and one unforgettable diatribe about abortion rights (seriously, it could be its own episode — jump to the 22:45 mark).
But first, Jason and Ian consider the political implications in Colorado of the demise of Roe v. Wade and make sure to update you on where Republican candidates for federal office stand on the issue. We also dive into the big news in the race for Governor and listen to Republican candidate Greg Lopez talk himself into oblivion in an interview with 9News.
If you’re reading these words we will assume that you are already aware that a leaked document indicates that the U.S. Supreme Court is getting ready to overturn Roe v. Wade in what would be a stunning rollback of abortion rights. This news will obviously have an enormous impact on the 2022 election; how each individual candidate approaches the subject will be perhaps more critical than it has ever been for American voters.
With that in mind, we thought it would be instructive to take a look at the positions on abortion taken by the various candidates for major political offices in Colorado. Since we can’t list the positions of every candidate — well, we could, but that would take longer than waiting for HiediHeidi Ganahl to answer a question — we’re going to focus on the candidates in competitive races for federal office in Colorado (U.S. Senate and Congress).
But before we do that, here’s a fantastic example from Ganahl herself of how NOT to respond to these questions:
NEW: Campaign spokeswoman for GOP gubernatorial candidate @heidiganahl declines to say if Ganahl would sign an abortion ban in Colorado but said the recent law establishing abortion rights in Colorado state law “must be undone.” #copolitics
Colorado state lawmakers recently passed legislation called the “Reproductive Health Equity Act” (RHEA), also known as HB22-1279, that essentially protects the rights of Colorado women to choose an abortion without government interference — like if, say, the Supreme Court of the United States decided to overturn Roe v. Wade. Ganahl vehemently opposes this law, but she won’t say if she would sign legislation banning an abortion in Colorado (which pretty much means she would). In short, Ganahl made it clear (again) that she opposes abortion rights but is too politically-terrified to talk about it in public.
Okay, back to the candidates for Congress…
As far as we know, there is no Democrat running in Colorado in 2022 who does NOT support abortion rights, so we’ll skip ahead to note where the relevant Republican candidates are standing on the issue.
Voters don’t have much of an option on the issue of abortion when it comes to Republican candidates Ron Hanks and Joe O’Dea. The only real difference is that Hanks doesn’t even try to dance around on the subject:
You’re not going to get much further to the right than Hanks when it comes to abortion. If there were an “Outlaw Abortion” button, Hanks would have already smashed it to pieces with his enthusiasm. Hanks would support outlawing abortion anywhere, at any time.
Joe O’Dea (R-ando)
O’Dea is less transparent about his opinion on abortion. He says that abortion is an issue that should be left up to the states to decide, which is his way of trying not to answer questions about Roe v. Wade. At the same time, O’Dea opposes the Reproductive Health Equity Act recently passed in Colorado…which protects the right to an abortion AT THE STATE LEVEL.
O’Dea isn’t likely going to clear this up anytime soon, because he doesn’t want to be talking about abortion at all should he win the June Primary Election for the right to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
We aren’t suggesting that Joe O’Dea opposes abortion rights in all cases. But O’Dea isn’t saying anything to the contrary.
If you’re a Republican Primary voter, O’Dea is potentially with you on this issue. In the meantime, he’s following the advice of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has instructed GOP candidates to yell SQUIRREL! whenever they get a question on abortion or Roe v. Wade.
There are three Republicans running for Congress in CO-07. It’s safe to say that none of them support abortion rights.
Later, we listen in as Republican gubernatorial candidates Greg Lopez and HiediHeidi Ganahl explain how THEY would have gotten control of the May 2020 riots in Denver [Spoiler Alert: They would have basically used a stern voice with protestors]. We also do our best to decipher a celebratory video from CO-08 Republican candidate Lori Saine.
Quarterly fundraising reports for federal campaigns were due by midnight on Friday. Since many of you had signed off for the weekend long before that time, we’ll break down everything you need to know below…
Incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet maintains his sizable fundraising lead over the rest of the field of Senate hopefuls.
The numbers for Ron Hanks are interesting for a non-obvious reason. Yes, Hanks isn’t raising diddly squat for his campaign, but it also appears as though he’s not really tryingto fundraise. Only 11 individual contributors appear on Hanks’s fundraising report; Bennet, by comparison, has hundreds of individual contributors. We suppose it’s possible that Hanks is just really bad at fundraising, but the limited number of contributors suggests that Hanks is intentionally choosing to do other things with his time. Hanks may be hoping for more unsolicited donations now that he is the top line candidate on the June Primary ballot, which is sorta what happened for 2016 Republican Senate nominee Darryl Glenn. Hanks also knows that if he wins the GOP Primary, he’ll get national fundraising help to some degree.
Joe O’Dea does appear to be raising money in the traditional manner — just not a lot of it. His numbers would be pretty good if he were running for a seat in the House of Representatives, but this is a weak quarter for a Senate candidate. Again, fundraising is likely to be a lot easier for O’Dea now that the GOP field is down to just he and Hanks, but this isn’t a great sign for a candidate who has more of a name ID problem than his Republican opponent.
Three other former Republican Senate candidates committed the cardinal sin in politics of losing with money in the bank. Gino Campana ($625k), Eli Bremer ($150k), and Deborah Flora ($209k) all failed to qualify for the June Primary ballot via the assembly process, which puts an end to their 2022 campaigns but does not zero out their candidate bank accounts.
Incumbent Republican Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert continues to raise a lot money…but she’s also spending a good deal of her coin as well. Her opponent in the June Primary, Don Coram, isn’t doing well on the fundraising front and will likely need to rely on spending from third-party groups to boost his name ID and/or weaken Boebert.
As for the Democrats, Sol Sandovalcontinues to burn through her money at an alarming rate. Sandoval’s fundraising hasn’t been bad — she has pulled in more than $800k for her campaign thus far — but she has also spent more than $700k. The “poop guy,” Alex Walker, raised nearly $130k in just about one month, which would put him on a decent trajectory if he were able to maintain this pace. Adam Frisch, meanwhile, is sitting on $1.66 million in the bank — most of it coming from people named Adam Frisch.
Challenger Dave Williams had a decent fundraising quarter, though he has a long way to go in order to catch up to what incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn has in the bank. Lamborn’s $82,955 Q1 is pretty weak, but it’s not much less than what he normally raises in a given quarter. Money likely won’t play that big of a role in the June Primary, which will mostly be a battle over a smaller group of consistent Republican voters.
Democrat Brittany Pettersen turned in a solid first fundraising quarter, trailing only Boebert for the lead among candidates for the U.S. House in Colorado. Republican Tim Reichert technically reported more money in contributions, but $500k came in the form of a personal check. [Side note: Reichert laughably claimed in a press release that “70%” of his donations came from Coloradans…a figure that includes 100% of all Tim Reicherts in the state].
The other two Republicans in the race are struggling on the money front. Erik Aadland had a not-completely-terrible contribution number, but he spent most of it and now has very little left in the bank. Laurel Imer, meanwhile, would likely be trailing her opponents in a race for the STATE House of Representatives.
This entire list might qualify as the biggest surprise of the first quarter. Congressional district eight is a brand new congressional district with no incumbent in the way, yet no candidate is really crushing it on the fundraising front. Democrat Yadira Caraveo has the most in the bank, and she should be able to build on that lead now that she doesn’t have an opponent in the June Primary.
Republican Lori Saine, who earned top line on the June Primary ballot, seems to be taking a similar approach to that of Ron Hanks in the U.S. Senate race; Saine only has about 30 total contributions, which indicates that she isn’t putting any real time or effort into fundraising. Saine has good enough name ID in a four-way Primary that being a top fundraiser isn’t as important as it might be for other candidates.
Fellow Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer dropped the biggest turd of the bunch, though perhaps her low numbers indicate that she expects outside groups (such as Americans for Prosperity) to do the heavy lifting on her behalf. Meanwhile, Jan Kulmann’s numbers are fairly weak for someone who touts strong connections to the oil and gas industry. Tyler Allcorn produced a better quarter than we would have expected, though it helps to be able to write yourself a big check; still, Allcorn’s numbers indicate that he may have enough resources to play a spoiler role in June.
This week in episode 105 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii guest host Christy Powell spend an entire episode breaking down the fantastic disaster that was last weekend’s Republican Party state assembly. Which other Republicans are dancing alongside Secretary of State nominee Tina Peters?
Colorado Republicans spent the weekend in Colorado Springs finalizing candidate positions for various important races in 2022. In case you haven’t heard, the GOP State Assembly did not go well. Here’s what happened…
(1) Colorado Media Outlets All Saw the Same Thing
Colorado political reporters came to the same obvious conclusion following Saturday’s circus: The “Big Lie” reigns supreme in the Colorado Republican Party. Here’s a sampling:
♦ The Denver Post: “Colorado GOP embraces election conspiracy theories in nominations for Secretary of State, Senate”
Presumptive GOP gubernatorial frontrunner HiediHeidi Ganahl has been flailing since her 2021 campaign kickoff about her persistent refusal to acknowledge that the 2020 election was legitimate. You can see from Saturday’s results why Ganahl has been so terrified to waffle on the “Big Lie” where the GOP base is concerned.
Republicans spent HOURS on Saturday arguing over multiple efforts from groups trying to force the Party to abandon electronic voting in favor of paper ballots. Did Republicans really think that NOBODY would bring this up at their State Assembly?
(3) Danielle Neuschwanger Claims Fraud After Losing
Again, in the “of course this happened” category.
The odds that a Republican candidate was going to lose on Saturday and then immediately claim election fraud as the reason were approximately 100%.
Danielle Neuschwanger finished in third place in the race for Governor, behind Greg Lopez and Ganahl, but short of the 30% threshold that would get her name on the June Primary ballot. Neuschwanger then publicly alleged that there were some sort of voting irregularities and that she would refuse to concede (not that anybody needs Neuschwanger to concede in order to move on to June). We know this happened because Neuschwanger posted a video of herself making this very argument:
Near the end of the video, an unidentified man can be heard yelling, “We didn’t lose! We got screwed!”
On KNUS radio on Monday morning, KBB elaborated on this event, adding that Neuschwanger’s husband threatened to beat up her father! Totally normal stuff.
(4) Raise Your Hand if You Want to be on the Ballot!
Republicans allowed nominations from the floor on Saturday. This did not go well.
The first problem with this approach came when Oltmann was nominated for Governor (and seconded by State Rep. Pat Neville). Oltmann had no intention of accepting this nomination, but he DID use his time on stage to endorse two other Republicans: Ron Hanks for Senate and Tina Peters for Secretary of State. Both KBB and Republican Party Vice-Chair Priscilla Rahn bemoaned this on Monday on KNUS radio as a waste of everyone’s time. You’d think KBB might have had some advance knowledge of this given the fact that she basically worked for Oltmann 18 months ago.
Following the vote for Governor, two different people were then nominated from the floor for Attorney General. We wrote earlier about Stanley Thorne, but there was a second woman nominated for AG who admitted soon thereafter THAT SHE WASN’T EVEN AN ATTORNEY. Thorne, by the way, is a licensed attorney, but not in Colorado (he’s also apparently not a registered Republican).
In the end, District Attorney John Kellner escaped Colorado Springs without a Primary opponent, but he can’t be feeling too pleased with himself. As we wrote on Sunday:
Apparently 42% of Colorado Republicans said they would prefer “any random asshole” for Attorney General rather than John Kellner…EVEN if that person is not even a registered Republican in Colorado.
(5) More Clowns = Better Circus
Saturday was unquestionably a dumpster fire for the Colorado Republican Party, but that didn’t stop KBB from attempting her own lame spin on the results:
It is true that State Treasurer candidate Lang Sias does not have a Republican opponent. As we noted earlier, AG candidate John Kellner would have had a Primary had Stanley Thorne actually been a registered Republican. In order to find a third candidate for this “no Primary” narrative, KBB had to include some guy running for state school board.
Meanwhile, Republicans do have a primary fight for Governor, U.S. Senate, and Secretary of State. All three Republican incumbents in Congress will have a Primary in June, and both open seats (CO-07 and CO-08) have multiple-candidate Primary battles. Republicans also have NO candidates in CO-01, CO-02, or CO-06.
But, sure, YAY for Sias, Kellner, and school board guy.
In case you were wondering, Democrats have no primary battles for any statewide race. Democrats also have no Primary fight in any congressional race. The Republican spin on this is just silly.
(6) The Tina Peters Assembly
Greg Lopez won top line at the assembly BECAUSE he promised to pardon Peters of any crimes committed during her tenure as Mesa County Clerk and Recorder. Stanley Thorne got 42% of the vote in the race for AG because he and others claimed that John Kellner failed to support Peters with sufficient vigor.
The biggest surprise from Saturday’s assembly might be that no Republican candidate publicly proposed to marry Peters.
This is the part where we remind you that Tina Peters spent a night in jail literally one month ago. She might yet be jailed on a contempt of court charge, and we don’t even know about the federal crimes she could get dinged for in the coming months.
If there is a ray of hope for the GOP, it is that Mike O’Donnell made the June Primary ballot, giving Republicans a three-way Primary for SOS. O’Donnell is a long shot to win, but he could be helpful to the GOP if he is able to siphon votes away from Tina Peters to the benefit of Pam Anderson (who skipped the assembly after getting on the ballot via the petition route).
Despite her endless pandering to the Republican base, presumed GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Heidi Ganahl came in second to Greg Lopez, who collected basically the same vote percentage that he received in his 2018 bid for Governor. We don’t need to tell you that it’s bad news that Ganahl is basically an afterthought following the biggest weekend of the year for Colorado Republicans.
(8) All The Momentum for Ron Hanks
Just look at this photo, via Colorado Public Radio:
Republican operatives have insisted for months that Ron Hanks is not a real candidate for U.S. Senate and would have no chance in a GOP Primary. We’ve long believed that reality was exactly the opposite of this position.
On Saturday Hanks SHUT OUT every other Republican Senate candidate, emerging from the State Assembly as the only person to make the Primary ballot via this process (if you’re wondering how this happened, see point #2 above). Hanks will face Joe O’Dea in June after O’Dea was the only Republican Senate candidate with the sense to collect petition signatures instead of relying on the GOP’s lunatic base.
Hanks has raised very little money for his U.S. Senate campaign and is about as far away from the average Colorado voter on policy issues as a candidate could get. But he might well win the Republican Primary in June, following in the footsteps of 2016 Senate hopeful Darryl Glenn.
There is still a lot to be told on the other side of the GOP ledger. Gino Campana is a multi-millionaire former Ft. Collins City Council Member who regularly touted his connections to Donald Trump and even hired Kellyanne Conway as a consultant. He didn’t make the ballot.
Deborah Flora is a former radio host and onetime “Miss Colorado” who entered Saturday touting the endorsement of Texas Senator Ted Cruz. She also left Broadmoor World Arena on Saturday in need of a new hobby.
Campana, Bremer, and Flora spent a lot of time and paid a lot of consultants a lot of money for a whole lot of nothing.
(9) Ken Buck, Canary in the Coal Mine
We knew things were going to be (extra) weird on Saturday after incumbent Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) almost failed to get his name on the June Primary ballot during Friday’s CO-04 assembly. Buck finished in second place behind somebody named Bob Lewis. Buck will likely still win the GOP Primary, but getting just 38% of the vote from your own base is pretty sad for an incumbent Congressman.
UPDATE: Over in CO-07, it looks like Republicans will have a three-way Primary on their hands. Erik Aadland (63%) and Laurel Imer (34%) both made the ballot through the assembly process. One other Republican candidate, demon enthusiast Tim Reichert, made the ballot via the petition route.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder…
Incumbent Republican Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) damn near failed to make the Primary ballot at today’s GOP congressional assembly for CO-04, finishing with about 38% of the vote. As Sandra Fish of The Colorado Sun reports via Twitter:
So just went back to listen to recording and Lewis received 183 votes/62% while Buck received 114/38% in CD4. #copolitics
Republicans are also holding assemblies for CO-02, CO-03, and CO-07 today. Given the craziness that has already ensued in other Republican assemblies, we could be in for a wild day on Saturday as the GOP selects nominees for Governor and U.S. Senate.
UPDATE: The Colorado Democratic Party confirmed this afternoon that Charles “Chaz” Tedesco failed to meet the 30% threshold for ballot access in CO-08. Yadira Caraveo is thus the Democratic nominee for CO-08 in 2022.
Democrats held most of their congressional assemblies on Tuesday, which means we have a pretty good idea of which candidates are going to be on the Primary ballot in June in the various congressional races in Colorado.
We’re still waiting on announcements regarding petition signatures for a few candidates, as well as the results from a handful of GOP assemblies. Republican congressional assemblies in Districts 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 are on Friday, April 8.
😀 Incumbent Rep. Diana DeGette qualified via assembly 😐 Neil Walia is still waiting on petition verification
😮 No Republican candidate has filed to run in this district
CO-02 (North and West Colorado)
😀 Incumbent Rep. Joe Neguse qualified via assembly
😮 No Republican candidate has filed to run in this district
CO-03 (West and Southern Colorado)
😀 Sol Sandoval qualified via assembly 😀 Alex Walker qualified via petition 😀 Adam Frisch qualified via petition 🙁 State Rep. Don Valdez failed to make threshold at assembly; his campaign is now over.
😐 Incumbent Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert is going through assembly process 😐Maria Zimmerman is going through assembly process 😐 State Sen. Don Coram is still waiting on petition verification
CO-04 (Eastern Plains)
😀 Ike McCorkle qualified via assembly
😐 Incumbent Rep. Ken Buck is on the ballot via the assembly (but barely) 😐 Bob Lewis is on the ballot after winning the GOP assembly
CO-05 (Colorado Springs)
😀David Torres qualified via assembly 😀Michael Colombe qualified via assembly
😀 State Rep. Dave Williams qualified via assembly 😀 Incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn qualified via petition 😀 Rebecca Keltie qualified via petition
😀 Incumbent Rep. Jason Crow qualified via assembly
CO-07 (Jefferson County-ish)
😀 State Sen. Brittany Pettersen qualified via assembly
😀 Tim Reichert qualified via petition 😐Erik Aadland failed to qualify via petition but took top line at assembly 😐Laurel Imer qualified for the Primary ballot via assembly
CO-08 (North Metro-ish)
😀 State Rep. Yadira Caraveo qualified both via petition and assembly 🙁 Adams County Commissioner Chaz Tedesco did not qualify for the ballot via assembly; his campaign is now over
😀 Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine qualified via assembly 😀 State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer qualified via petition 😀 Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann qualified via petition 😀 Tyler Allcorn qualified via petition 🙁 Jewels Gray failed to qualify via assembly; her campaign is over pending petition review
We’ve written before in this space that Republican Tim Reichert is probably the most boring candidate in Colorado in 2022. From what little we’ve seen and heard from Reichert on the campaign trail thus far, you’d have trouble making an argument otherwise.
But that may all depend on how openly Reichert continues to talk about one particular issue.
Reichert is running for Congress in CO-07, and like most Republican candidates, he is firmly “anti-choice” on the issue of abortion. Reichert is about as far right as you can get on this issue, opposing abortion with no exceptions, even for victims of rape or incest. But at the point where most Republicans stop talking, Reichert keeps on going…through a whole different level of radicalism and all the way into the “sacrifices for demons” category.
“Every abortion is a human sacrifice,” Reichert said last year in an acceptance speech for an award from Catholic Charities of Denver, a ministry-based charity that opposes abortion rights. “Every abortion feeds the demonic and thereby contributes directly to the demise of the church, the demise of America and the demise of the West.”
“Every single abortion is not just a tragic loss with two victims,” he went on. “It is much more than that ― it’s fuel. Fuel for the demonic, because it is the sacrifice of a child at the altar of Baal.” [Pols emphasis]
Uh, yeah. Take a look for yourself at Reichert’s comments from 2021 (below), which we excerpted from a longer, equally-creepy video featuring Reichert alongside his wife, Martha. Just don’t look directly into Reichert’s dead eyes:
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of Baal (or Ba’al or Ba’el), it is a demon mentioned in some sects of Christianity that is said to have the head of a cat, man, and human — simultaneously, somehow. Baal is also sometimes depicted with the body of a spider.
In short, Reichert apparently believes that every abortion is akin to sacrificing a child at the altar of some Cat/Toad/Man/Spider thing, which is…different.
Reichert is thus far the only Republican candidate who has qualified to appear on the June Primary ballot after having his petition signatures approved. That is likely to change following the Republican CO-07 assembly on Friday, where fellow Republicans Laurel Imer and Erik Aadland will attempt to qualify for the ballot via the assembly process.
Telling scary stories about demons may be popular with the right-wing Republican base, but this won’t play as well in a General Election should Reichert’s campaign advance to November. Colorado is a solidly pro-choice state whose voters have handily rejected abortion bans on the ballot on four separate occasions in the last decade.
With the potential for the Supreme Court to soon outlaw all or part of Roe v. Wade, abortion may well be a defining issue in 2022. If that’s the case, you’re probably going to see this video clip again…and again…and again.