Registered voters have received primary ballots along with plenty of surprising mail about Republican candidates distributed by Democratic sources. This is a result of mass mailing ballots to Democrats, Republicans, and Unaffiliated voters who vastly outnumber political party members.
The Republicans have numerous primary contests, especially at the top level for U.S. senate and governor. Apparently Democrat leadership has been clever enough to capitalize on these numbers to attempt to influence who wins the GOP primary elections. Note the small disclamers on the political ads. This is something new with mass mailings and TV ads paid for by Democrat sources about Republican primary candidates. I’m not sure voters will figure this out and in some ways it may boost the identity of the winning GOP primary candidates, whomever comes out top line for the Nov. 8 election.
The Democrat primary ballot is full of incumbents, with few primary contests, making that ballot shorter. The Republican ballot is full of primary contests that may be more exciting and challenging for unaffiliated voters.
There are many unaffiliated voters that are turned off by current and past leadership, policies, Roe vs. Wade, immigration, inflation, and rising energy prices, especially gasoline and natural gas.
In the past, only party members could vote in their own primary elections where candidates had to get delegates at the precinct level and then receive 30 percent of the votes at the county and state assemblies to be on the ballot or run by petition. (Conventions are only held every four years in presidential election years.) The GOP held their assembly in Colorado Springs April 9, and the Democrats had a video on-line assembly due to lack of the top-level primary competition.
I attended the Colorado Springs assembly and heard the many speeches, including eight candidates for Governor. Only two candidates, Greg Lopez, and Heidi Ganahl, made the final gubernatorial primary ballot with so many candidates splitting votes. Danielle Neuschwanger missed the ballot selection by only a few votes under 30 percent and is now running as a third-party candidate in November. Lopez garnered 34.03 percent of the votes to Ganahl’s 32.63 tally, a very close contest. Ganahl had already petitioned onto the primary ballot but also chose to go through the assembly process.
Controversial Secretary of State candidate Tina Peters received top line vote with 61 percent of votes in spite of the Mesa County turmoil over 2020 voting machine issues where she challenged the voting machines accuracy. (Dick Wadhams, in Sunday’s Denver Post, blasted her candidacy.) Michael O’Donnell finished with 39 percent of the votes, making the primary ballot. Former Jeffco County Clerk, Pam Anderson, skipped the assembly, petitioning onto the ballot.
The U.S. Senate race pitted Canon City state legislator Ron Hanks against five other major candidates. Hanks received top line at the assembly with the vote split receiving 39 percent, the only candidate to make the ballot. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea petitioned onto the primary ballot by statewide petition and skipped the assembly. He was present and campaigning at the event.
Hanks had a large floor demonstration that was impressive for the 3772 delegates. Hanks has been a strong Trump supporter, along with Tina Peters. Trump appointee, and former Parker mayor, Greg Lopez, received top line votes over Heidi Ganahl, indicating that Trump supporters were in control of this GOP assembly. Now enter the recent mass mailing to unaffiliated voters this month. Apathy reigns, and the majority of “independent” voters have not been privy to the assemblies or precinct caucuses. How will unaffiliated candidates vote? There is a very competitive Arapahoe County race in District 2, pitting former Centennial city council member Mark Gotto against Arapahoe law enforcement officer, Jason Presley. (See their stories and ads in this week’s Villager.) We are not making any political endorsements in this primary election. I have long friendships with many of these candidates.
Overall, we see well-qualified candidates on the primary ballot, and it will be up to party members and unaffiliated voters to select future candidates for the November 8 election conclusion. Seems that there is way too much emphasis on this year’s primary election that should have been handled by party leadership. So many candidates at the assembly has resulted in knocking off some very good candidates who should be on this year’s primary ballot.
Some sidelights: Congressman Ken Buck (R-4) did not win top line in his eastern plains district and is facing a tough primary contest from Bob Lewis who appeared recently at the Arapahoe County GOP breakfast. Lewis made a strong appeal for support against the former Colorado GOP chair and incumbent congressman. Will Buck survive this primary challenger?
You will see Cherry Creek high school and CU graduate Molly Lamar unopposed, seeking an at-large seat for state school board.
With five other candidates for the United States Senate, only Ron Hanks was the sole survivor, receiving 39 percent of the 3772 delegate votes cast. Arapahoe County favorite, Deborah Flora, failed to achieve the 30 percent level, falling short with 29 percent of the votes. Colorado Springs Olympian, Eli Bremmer, received 15 percent, and Ft. Collins real estate developer, Gino Campana, garnered 11 percent, Greg Moore and Peter Yu, at 3 percent each.
Former Aurora city council member Republican Bob Roth is seeking election as a county commissioner candidate from Aurora District 4 to replace term-limited Democrat Nancy Jackson. He will be joined on the ticket by past Aurora mayor pro-tem Marsha Berzins seeking the Arapahoe County Treasurer’s position, replacing term- limited Sue Sandstrom. There will be candidates from both parties on the Nov. 8 ballot where there are incumbent office holders.
There are many candidates seeking congressional seats and state office positions on the Nov. 8 ballot. Keep reading The Villager for further information on the election and primary contest winners. Subscriptions welcome. Call 303-773-8313.
Here is an explanation for ballot voting procedures: With the mail ballot system every registered voter in Arapahoe County will receive at least one ballot. Voters affiliated with the Democrat party will receive a Democrat ballot. Republican affiliates will receive a Republican ballot. Unaffiliated voters, who do not claim a preference, will receive a packet that includes both Democrat and Republican ballots. The voters may cast a ballot for only one of the party slates.
The ballot can be mailed or dropped off at county drop box locations.
Joan Lopez is Arapahoe County clerk and recorder; further election information can be obtained at www.arapahoevotes.gov