Last week, struggling Republican gubernatorial candidate
Hiedi Heidi Ganahl relented from her months-long self-imposed media blackout in order to sit down with a number of news outlets, presumably in order to counter the growing sense that Ganahl is hopelessly unprepared for the nomination she’s seeking.
As we reported Friday, it has not gone well.
It started on Thursday, when Colorado Public Radio host Ryan Warner refused to spare Ganahl the “divisive questions” about the 2020 presidential election she bemoaned during her campaign launch, and in doing so caught Ganahl flat-out lying about her support for former University of Colorado “visiting conservative scholar” John Eastman–whose leading role in the January 6th coup plot has blown back on Colorado’s flagship university like the smell of Greeley in a north wind. When the conversation turned to Eastman and the 2020 coup plot, CU Regent Ganahl denied praising Eastman personally as “fantastic” despite having done so in clear terms in a broadcast interview.
Colorado Public Radio wasn’t the only media outlet to pick up on Ganahl’s disingenuous attempt to put distance between herself and Eastman–not without risk before the June 28th GOP primary, since she can’t afford to offend the large percentage of Republican primary voters who both know and like Eastman better than Ganahl. In the Colorado Sun’s Friday Unaffiliated newsletter, we got a sneak peek of what Ganahl said to that outlet and CBS4:
“Never met him, never talked to him, wasn’t involved in the hiring,” [Ganahl] said.
We know from emails we’ve reviewed that Ganahl tried to set up a lunch with Eastman and former CU Regent Steve Bosley months before the Jan. 6 riot. The meeting never happened, however, because Eastman got sick.
Ganahl also said her remarks in December 2020 on a conservative talk radio show about the Benson Center at CU, which brought Eastman to the university as a visiting scholar, being “fantastic” were taken out of context.
“I was referring to all the scholars at the Benson Center,” she said. “I wasn’t saying Eastman was fantastic.” [Pols emphasis]
Like we said Friday, there’s no way to comport what she says now with her clear praise for John Eastman, personally and by name, in December of 2020. It’s just silly.
“There are fantastic folks who come in,” said Ganahl. “Right now, it’s Dr. John Eastman, who’s riling some folks up.”
There’s simply no way to read this and not conclude that Ganahl is lauding Eastman as “fantastic.” It’s a situation where simply owning up to a moment of poor judgment, claiming to have learned a lesson and moving on, would be far less damaging than attempting to maintain this obviously bogus pretext–but that’s not the choice Ganahl made. Ganahl demands we not believe our lying eyes.
As for Ganahl’s claim to have “never talked to” Eastman, in the Sun’s preview of their interview Friday and in 9NEWS’ Friday night commentary on Ganahl’s CPR interview, new details were first reported about attempts by Ganahl and Eastman to coordinate their schedules for lunch both before and after the November 2020 election:
CLARK: Ganahl tried to distance herself from Eastman in that interview by telling CPR News that she never met Eastman in person. We know that’s not for lack of trying on Ganahl’s part. [Pols emphasis] Emails obtained by our Marshall Zelinger show that Ganahl repeatedly sought a lunch meeting with Eastman, before and after the November 2020 election. Their plans to meet got called off because Eastman got sick. He told the New York Times that he caught COVID from the Trump team as they met to discuss how to overturn the election.
Folks, that’s the most fortuitous case of COVID Heidi Ganahl ever avoided–even including when Dennis Prager tried to turn a Ganahl campaign rally into a wilful superspreader event! Ganahl’s struggle to manage her message with respect to John Eastman is a metaphor for the entire Republican Party’s dilemma holding together a base still in the thrall of Donald Trump, without outright embracing Trump’s assault on American democracy and alienating a majority of general election voters. After June 28th, whoever emerges from the primary will have some freedom to distance themselves from Trump, at the peril of facing November with no base of support at all.
The latest and perhaps greatest twist of the knife, however, came in an editorial from the Denver Post this weekend calling not only for the Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization at the University of Colorado to be shut down over Eastman’s misdeeds, but for Regent Heidi Ganahl to lead the campaign to do so:
Trump’s right-hand man in this coup attempt was John Eastman, a professor who at the time was in a position of power at the University of Colorado’s Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization…
We do not see how CU’s Benson Center can withstand such a scandal. The University of Colorado Regents should revoke the center’s space on campus, return the gifts, grants and donations funding its work, and remove CU’s good name from the center’s title. CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, who once referred to Eastman as “terrific,” should lead the effort. [Pols emphasis]
Make no mistake, this is intended to mock Ganahl and not to seriously call for her to lead any such campaign. This backhanded acknowledgement of Ganahl’s past praise for Eastman is another sign that Ganahl will not be living down her connection, at this moment the closest of anyone on Colorado’s statewide ballot save perhaps “Insurrectionist Man of Mystery” Ron Hanks himself, to the plot that came way too close to ending American democracy.
In December, we’ll most likely write the story of how it was never going to work.
It certainly didn’t work this time.