UPDATE: Longtime Colorado election official with bipartisan street cred Amber McReynolds deplores Heidi Ganahl trucking with the vote fraud fringe:
This is destructive, ridiculous, & sad for any candidate to say or think. Also Heidi has won statewide in the exact same voting process and system. She should know better. It is also insulting to election officials statewide of all parties who work everyday to serve voters.
— Amber McReynolds (@AmberMcReynolds) November 30, 2021
Since launching her campaign for governor in September, CU Regent Heidi Ganahl has been hammered from both sides of the aisle for her inability to answer what she calls “divisive questions” about whether Joe Biden was the rightful winner of the 2020 elections. Because this is the most salient political question in American politics today, and also because it’s human nature to demand answers about the subjects public figures least want to discuss, Ganahl’s refusal to go off script and provide a satisfactory answer to what should be a very simple question exploded into a crippling liability as she rolled out her campaign.
Last night, 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger released an audio recording of Ganahl speaking to an audience of Republican faithful in Durango on November 18th. This audio-only recording captures Ganahl telling Republicans that the way to deal with supposed election fraud, which Ganahl in no way disputes is a thing, is to win by “such a red tsunami that there’s no question” of the results–like Donald Trump did, Ganahl says, presumably in 2016 when Trump “won by such a big margin, that there was no way that they could make it — fix, fix it, right?”
Riiiiight. That’s a pretty strong if still implicit embrace of the “Big Lie.” But then, Ganahl goes even further to assure the party faithful that she’s on board with…well, everything they’re on board with, which is an awfully broad sweeping statement:
In Ganahl’s answers from September, she mentioned kids, crime and cost of living.
In the tracker audio provided to Next with Kyle Clark from the Nov. 18 event, Ganahl explained that those are her talking points to win over unaffiliated voters. [Pols emphasis]
“So, you’re going to see me talk about things that the unaffiliated voter cares about, and you might be like, ‘Heidi, get feistier, talk about different, you know, things that we care about.’ Y’all, I care about everything that you care about. [Pols emphasis] You hear me talking here, right now. But in the media and on my ads, [Pols emphasis] I’m going to talk about crime and kids and the cost of living because that’s what’s going to win us the 7% of unaffiliated voters. We’ve got to be so disciplined about that. So disciplined,” Ganahl said at the Durango Meet and Greet on Nov. 18.
Back in 2012, longtime readers will recall, Republican presidential loser Mitt Romney came under intense criticism after a video leaked of Romney speaking to campaign donors about the “the 5 to 6 or 7 percent that we have to bring onto our side,” essentially writing off the 47% of the electorate on either side as predictably for or against him. Here is Heidi Ganahl saying basically the same thing, but this time in order to assure a far-right audience she cares about “everything that you care about.” Given that at least some of the people in that room statistically believe Democrats drink the blood of children and JFK, Jr. is about to magically reappear, that is not a blanket statement we would feel comfortable making.
Ganahl’s much-too-frank acknowledgment of a fundamentally duplicitous campaign message is another major disaster for her struggling campaign, as it was for Mitt Romney when his campaign manager cracked about “shaking the Etch-a-Sketch” to reset from a Republican primary to a general election message. Instead of moving past these “divisive questions,” Ganahl has just ensured they will remain front and center after embracing the far-right fringe when Ganahl thought it was safe to do so. This is audio Ganahl will dearly wish as time goes on had never been made public.
Like Mitt Romney discovered in 2012, two-facedness is how you lose the trust of all sides.