Focus is on GOP as Colorado holds party primaries Tuesday
Colorado’s top Republican primary contests Tuesday — for U.S. Senate, secretary of state and governor — will show if right-wing candidates have made inroads in the party’s quest to break a Democratic stranglehold on the state’s top offices.
Voters also are selecting their November nominees in the state’s eight congressional districts, with a new, northern Colorado swing district in play after the state gained a seat with redistricting.
In a state that’s trended purple over the past decade, Colorado’s congressional delegation includes two Democratic senators, with three-term Sen. Michael Bennet seeking reelection this year. Democrats hold a 4-3 advantage among U.S. representatives.
A look at Tuesday’s races:
Businessman Joe O’Dea is running as a rare Republican supporter of most abortion rights against state Rep. Ron Hanks, who backs a ban on the procedure in all cases. Colorado’s voters have strongly backed abortion rights, and Democrats, viewing O’Dea as a more formidable adversary to Bennet, have spent more than $2 million boosting Hanks’ candidacy in the primary.
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Tina Peters, El Paso County’s conspiracy-theorist elections clerk who’s been indicted for tampering with voting equipment, faces Pam Anderson, a former head of Colorado’s county clerks association, in the GOP primary. Anderson, a former clerk in Jefferson County, defends Colorado’s elections as secure. Both want to unseat Democrat Jena Griswold, a national advocate of secure elections who is uncontested in Tuesday’s primary. Economist Mike O’Donnell, a small business advocate, also is in the GOP running.
Colorado’s last Republican governor was Bill Owens, who served from 1999 to 2007. Heidi Ganahl, a University of Colorado regent who is the GOP’s only statewide elected official, faces former Parker Mayor and businessman Greg Lopez in the primary. Like Hanks, Democrats have aired ads for Lopez, suggesting they view Ganahl as the stronger challenger to Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. Both candidates oppose a new state law guaranteeing access to abortion, and both welcomed the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. Lopez opposes abortion without exceptions; Ganahl supports exceptions including rape, incest or threats to the health of the mother or fetus.
First-term GOP firebrand Rep. Lauren Boebert faces state Sen. Don Coram in the largely rural 3rd District. Boebert says Coram, a moderate, rancher and hemp farmer, isn’t conservative enough; Coram says Boebert is too extreme for the traditionally conservatively centrist district.
In El Paso County, eight-term Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn faces a spirited primary challenge from state Rep. Dave Williams, who failed to get the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon,” code for an obscenity against President Joe Biden, added to his official name on the ballot. Also running are Navy veteran Rebecca Keltie and Colorado Springs businessman Andrew Heaton.
In the new 8th District, state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, former state Rep. Lori Saine and Tyler Allcorn, a small businessman and U.S. Army veteran, seek to challenge Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, who is unopposed.
Oil and gas industry veteran Erik Aadland, economist and businessman Tim Reichert and Donald Trump-aligned political activist Laurel Imer seek to challenge Democratic state Sen. Brittany Pettersen, who is unopposed Tuesday for the 7th District seat being vacated by eight-term Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter.
Four-term U.S. Rep. Ken Buck faces first-time candidate Robert Lewis of Elbert County in the sweeping 4th District. Steven Monahan, a Navy veteran, is unopposed in suburban Denver’s 6th District. So, too, is Jennifer Qualtieri, a state party activist, in Denver’s 1st District. Engineer Marshall Dawson is alone on the GOP ballot in the 2nd District.
Denver Rep. Diana Degette faces first-time challenger Neal Walia in DeGette's bid for a 14th term. Incumbents Joe Neguse and Jason Crow are unopposed in the 2nd and 6th districts, respectively. The 3rd District primary features tech engineer Alex Walker, Aspen businessman and former city councilmember Adam Frisch and Pueblo health advocate and social worker Sol Sandoval. David Torres and Michael Colombe seek the party nomination in the 5th District.
Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser and Republican challenger John Kellner, the district attorney for Colorado’s 18th Judicial District, are unopposed, as are Democratic Treasurer Dave Young and former Republican state Rep. Lang Sias.
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