Colorado GOP assembly sluices primary fields, as social issues dominate

In her speech, Lopez addressed a wide range of GOP concerns, from “tough on crime” to abolishing “critical theory about race and the sexualization of our public school children” to increase in teachers’ salaries.

“Colorado deserves a governor who understands we have 64 counties, not nine,” he said, referring to the Front Range. “It’s about all of us, not just some of us, and that includes the unborn child.”

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Lopez at the Republican State Assembly in Colorado on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

Both candidates also made brief mentions of their plans to cut taxes.

Delegates anticipate ‘freedom awakening’

The assembly was held at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, where 3,772 delegates sat in rows of purple folding chairs and voted with small keyboards to record their selections after hearing nominations and speeches. Beginning with the morning invocation, participants described the upcoming election as a fundamental conflict over the culture of the United States.

“We are here today as a great old party to unite, build coalitions, work within our differences, and make this state red again,” said Pastor Steve Holt, whose church in El County Paso battled pandemic restrictions.

Holt warned the hushed room that Democrats were enacting a “great reset” with an agenda including “CRT,” the “death bill” that reaffirms abortion rights in that state, and “the queer effort”.

Delegates turn a blind eye during the invocation at the Colorado Republican State Assembly on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

Conservatives, he continued, would make Colorado “red with the blood of Jesus, through spiritual awakening – red with the awakening of freedom of disciplined principles based on the Declaration of Independence, the greatest Constitution the world has ever known, and the Bill of Rights.”

In interviews, many delegates identified electoral fraud and changing norms around gender identity and sexuality as their biggest concerns.

“When they started attacking my beliefs – and not so much my religious beliefs, but my knowledge of knowing that a man is a man and a woman is a woman – I said, that’s wrong, brake” said David Moran of Delta County. , who backed Lopez for governor.

Many candidates have taken time in their speeches to argue that transgender people should only be identified by the sex they were assigned at birth.

‘Raise your hand if you know the difference between a man and a woman,’ exclaimed Senate candidate Eli Bremer as he took the stage, a reference to the US Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson .

Sydnnia Wulff, a delegate from Denver, said Republicans had to fight against a creeping liberal regime.

“It’s the best country in the fucking world and people don’t realize it. And that’s why we’ve had a black president twice in a row, but it’s still not enough. Nothing is enough,” said Wulff, who emigrated from Nicaragua more than 40 years ago.

Andrew Kenney/CPR News
Lisa Zimmerman, GOP state delegate from La Plata County, said she sees her own identity reflected in the party’s gubernatorial candidates.

Lisa Zimmerman, a laborer from La Plata County, said education is her biggest issue, largely because she worries about how her son is learning about gender.

“He needs to write about the different genders that exist,” an assignment that included a discussion about transgender people, she said. But that wasn’t necessarily what drove his votes on Saturday.

“I love Heidi (Ganahl) because she represents me as a single mom, and I love Greg (Lopez) because he represents me and my (Latin) heritage. I think they’re all two great candidates,” said Zimmerman, who wore a pink Trump 2024 hat.

Elizabeth Lupia and her daughter, Olivia, said they believe the party is failing them by not coming together to fight harder on abortion and secure an election. “The infighting is because we as Christians, the conservative base, have a high moral standard, and we’re not willing to lower our standards,” Lupia said, calling Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown, of “absolutely tyrannical”.

Some raise concerns for the general election

Some of the conversations in the room — including an angry debate over the use of electronic voting instead of paper ballots — gave some moderate attendees pause.

“Unlike a lot of the loudest here, I’m not on the far right. I’m conservative,” said Jim Hargis, a delegate from Grand Junction. “I thought we were (winning) until I hear all that commotion.”

He added: “People’s movements tend to be less well informed, and that’s a matter of education.”

By evening’s end, that concern was shared by some Republican political operatives, who believe candidates like Hanks and Peters won’t have the broad appeal to win in a state that has rejected far more moderate candidates in recent years. They hope to see some of today’s winners knocked down by moderates in the primary.

Meanwhile, Democrats sang about the selections. “This chaotic primary is just a choice between the out of touch Trump sidekick who is set to lose to (Senator) Michael Bennet in November,” texted state Democratic spokesman Nico Delgado.

But for many in the building, the assembly marked the start of a long-awaited battle. After years in the political wilderness, some sensed an opportunity.

“People are angry, and I think they are the ones who are going to bring in the independents. We are not moving our house to them. We open it up and they come in,” Jonathan Calm said, balancing nachos with one hand as he stalked the halls in an outfit covered in flag and eagle prints, as well as bright shoes.

Republicans have to “get our message out — and we can’t be nice about that,” said Beth Francis, a Centennial delegate. “We have to fight like the Democrats do.”

The next step in that fight is the June 28 primary, where Peters and Hanks will face opponents who have chosen to collect voter signatures instead of attending the assembly.

Pam Anderson, former president of the State County Clerks Association and former Jefferson County Clerk and Clerk, presented a petition for the race to the Secretary of State. (Political newcomer Mike O’Donnell also garnered enough support in the Assembly to join them on the ballot.)

Hanks will face Joe O’Dea, the top-funded candidate in the U.S. Senate race. O’Dea, who runs a construction company, said in February he did not believe the election was stolen. O’Dea, who partially self-funds his campaign, had raised more than $1 million, compared to about $28,000 for Hanks, by the end of last year.