FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:
El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams, a Republican, filed paperwork Tuesday to run for Colorado Secretary of State.
Williams, whose office oversaw a chaotic and controversial recall election in Colorado Springs last month, is currently the only Republican seeking to replace Scott Gessler, who is one of four candidates seeking the GOP’s nomination for governor next year…
Earlier this year, he firmly opposed the Democratic bill that overhauled the state’s election law, allowing for same-day voter registration and shifting all 64 county clerks to one electronic database that can track voter information in real time.
One of current Secretary of State Scott Gessler's closest allies, El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams' holdout opposition to this year's election reform bill, House Bill 1303–while most county clerks in the state supported the bill–reportedly led him to resign from the Colorado Association of County Clerks. More recently, Williams' judgment was questioned in the recall elections after early voting locations and hours set up by his office were substantially more restricted compared to much better early voting accessibility in neighboring Pueblo. Detractors point to a much lower resulting turnout in SD-11 versus the SD-3 recall election in Pueblo. In Williams' defense, litigation from a minor-party candidate in SD-11 held up the works for awhile–but that doesn't fully explain the shorter hours and fewer locations even after that was resolved.
Williams has also been a bit sketchy on the issue of election fraud and the supposed "unintended consequences" of House Bill 1303. At times, Williams has been pretty good at making clear that stunts of the kind pulled by the Independence Institute's Jon Caldara, a Boulder resident who fraudulently affirmed a Colorado Springs address as his "sole residence" to vote in the SD-11 recall, are illegal. But as a shrill opponent on House Bill 1303, he's quick to misattribute pre-existing legal conflicts in Colorado election law to this year's legislation–and argue against reforms like same-day registration that, when you get down to it, are arguments about partisan advantage, not fair process.
We've mentioned the possibility of a run for Secretary of State by another Republican, Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson. We haven't heard anything definitive to rule that out in the last 24 hours, but Williams' entry does make it less likely that she will run. Given that Anderson was one of the prime architects of the same House Bill 1303 that Williams and so many partisan Republicans despise, she might have set the party up for some uncomfortable internal debates. On the other hand, she would have been a much better Secretary of State. The likely Democratic contender in this race, CU Regent Joe Neguse, should be very competitive against Williams. The biggest issue is that Williams will be very easy to lure into on-record statements that will make him appear most unsuitable for the job of administering fair elections.
After four years of the "Honey Badger," Coloradans are likely to pay more attention down the ticket this time.