DENVER ( Associated Press) — It was no shock that State Representative Ron Hanks and Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters easily lost their recent Republican primaries in Colorado for the U.S. Senate and Secretary of State.
Hanks was pushed 14-to-1 by his opponent. Peters, who was competing to become Colorado’s top election official, was indicted on seven felony counts, including allegations that he facilitated hard drive breaches of his voting system.
But this past week, both candidates formally requested a recount of their primary elections from June 28, suggesting widespread irregularities that were witnessed by none other than their own campaigns and allies.
Peters wrote in his recount request, “I have reasons to believe that there was a widespread mismatch in the June 2022 primary,” and the clear results of this election do not reflect the will of Colorado voters not only for me but for many other Americas. We do. First statewide and local primary candidates. ,
America First is a coalition of conservative candidates and office bearers who, among other things, promote the lie that Democrat Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election.
The idea has penetrated deeply into this year’s Republican primary, which has revealed a new political strategy among many candidates: running on a platform that denied President Donald Trump’s defeat two years ago. Since some of those candidates have lost their own races, they are taking a new front in electoral denial by insisting that those primaries were rigged as well.
“There’s a clear reason why they’re doing this, and it’s a broad, coordinated attack on freedom to vote across the country,” said Joanna Lidgett of States United Action. His group supports election officials who recognize the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
Noting that she coaches youth basketball, Lidgett added another reason: “Really, what it is about people who are losers, people who don’t want to accept defeat.”
The primary losers have one clear role model: Trump himself.
In the Iowa caucus, following his first election defeat of 2016 for the White House, Trump baselessly claimed fraud and demanded an investigation. When he was elected president later that year, he claimed that fraud was the reason Democrat Hillary Clinton won more votes than him. Trump set up a commission to prove it. That commission was dissolved when it failed to produce any evidence.
After his 2020 defeat, Trump and his supporters lost 63 of the 64 legal challenges in the election. Trump continued to blame fraud without evidence, even after election review in his own attorney general and states failed to find any widespread wrongdoing that would have any effect on the outcome.
The denial could be a preview for November after this year’s primary election, when Republicans face Democrats in thousands of races across the country. The GOP is expected to do well — an expectation that could set the stage for more false claims of fraud when some of those candidates lose.
Still, some Republicans are not waiting for Democratic voters to weigh in before making baseless fraud claims.
The few recent candidates who have done so are relatively modest.
In Georgia, two of Trump’s recruits set out to challenge the state governor and secretary of state — former Sen. David Perdue and former Rep. Jodi Hiss – conceded defeat after losing the May primary. But Candice Taylor, a fringe candidate who won only 3% of the primary vote for governor, declined to claim there was widespread fraud.
In South Carolina, Republican Harrison Musselwhite — who goes by Trucker Bob — lost his primary against Governor Henry McMaster by 66 percentage points. Still, he complained of problems in the state party election, as did another losing GOP contender, Lauren Martel, who ran for attorney general. The party rejected his claims.
Others who have cried fraud are more prominent.
Joy Gilbert, who came second in the Nevada Republican primary for governor, posted a Facebook video days after June’s tally showed 26,000 votes lower. “These elections, the way they’re run, it’s like Swiss cheese,” he said. “There are too many holes.”
Gilbert, who attends Trump’s rally near the White House on January 6, 2021, before a riot at the US Capitol, calls for recounts. The result is unlikely to change the final tally substantially. He did not return messages seeking comment.
In Arizona, former newscaster Kari Lake won the endorsement of Trump in his quest for the party’s nomination for governor, insisting he won the presidency in 2020. This past week, he told supporters that his top rivals in the primary “will be trying to set up.” Stage for another theft” in next month’s primary.
This drew her a rebuke from Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican who has backed Lake’s main rival, Karin Taylor Robson.
“The 2022 elections are not even done yet, and already we are seeing skeptical speculation over the results – especially if some candidates lose,” Ducey tweeted. “It’s one of the most irresponsible things I can imagine.”
Lake’s campaign did not return messages seeking comment.
In Colorado, County Clerk Peters immediately questioned the primary results after the tally showed him losing badly in the secretary of state race. In the fraud claim he backed former county clerk Pam Anderson, a regular debunker of Trump’s election lies, Peters said: “Given the results, it’s so obvious it should be flipped.”
She and Senate candidate Hanks repeated Trump’s election lies, a position that won him strong support last spring in the 3,000-strong GOP state assembly, a convention attended by the party’s strongest activists. Both candidates, in a letter to the secretary of state’s office last week demanding a recount, cited that support in explaining why they could not lose their primaries.
Hanks sent a reporter to the media an email address for the two candidates, though no one responded to questions sent to that address.
Activists attending the GOP gathering are a tiny fraction of the 600,000 who voted in the June primary. According to preliminary results, Peters lost by 88,000 votes and Hanks by 56,000 votes.
Their recount papers gave reasons why the candidates believed those votes were being “artificially controlled.”
The Colorado Secretary of State’s office said the recount would cost $236,000 for each candidate. As of Friday night, the deadline for receiving the money had not been set by the office, nor had the candidate paid, according to spokeswoman Annie Orloff.
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