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Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters speaks during the Truth and Justice Rally at the old Mesa County Courthouse on December 1, 2021, in Grand Junction. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

Embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who was briefly jailed last week on charges of obstructing a peace officer and obstructing government operations, said she is running to become Colorado’s top election official.

Peters, a Republican, announced her candidacy to become Colorado secretary of state on Monday on a show run and hosted by Steve Bannon, the controversial former adviser to former President Donald Trump. Bannon was indicted in recent months on suspicion of being in contempt of Congress.

“Colorado deserves a secretary of state who will stand up to the Biden administration that wants to run our country into the ground with nationalized elections,” she said.

Peters is under grand jury investigation for a security breach of her county’s election system after she allegedly allowed an unauthorized person to attend a sensitive Dominion Voting Systems software update and facilitate the digital copying of her election system.

Peters, who has spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election being stolen, has not formally filed to run to be Colorado secretary of state. She was initially running for reelection to a second four-year term as Mesa County’s clerk and recorder.

She cannot simultaneously run for both positions.

There are a few other Republicans running this year to be Colorado’s secretary of state, including Pam Anderson, Jefferson County’s former clerk and recorder and the former leader of the Colorado County Clerks Association. Anderson has been critical of Peters and has rejected baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Anderson and Peters are running to unseat Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat.

Peters was barred from having an oversight role in the 2021 election because of the ongoing local, state and federal criminal investigations into her conduct. Griswold is seeking to bar her from having an oversight role in the 2022 election.

Griswold on Monday called Peters “unfit” to be secretary of state and “a danger to Colorado elections.”

“Peters compromised voting equipment to try to prove conspiracies, costing Mesa County taxpayers nearly $1 million dollars,” Griswold said. “She works with election deniers, spreads lies about elections, was removed from overseeing the 2021 Mesa County election, and is under criminal investigation by a grand jury. Colorado needs a secretary of state who will uphold the will of the people; not one who embraces conspiracies and risks Coloradans’ right to vote.”

Griswold has already been invoking Peters in fundraising emails for her 2022 election, pointing to Peters as the reason why voters should elect to her another term as Colorado’s top election official.

Peters’ arrest last week came as she was being investigated for allegedly filming a court hearing for her deputy, Belinda Knisley, who is facing felony and misdemeanor charges. The Associated Press reports Peters is accused of resisting police efforts to seize the iPad she allegedly used to record the hearing.

Tina Peters’ mugshot. (Mesa County Sheriff’s Office)

Peters allegedly tried to kick an officer who was trying to arrest her, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. 

David Winney, a Colorado Springs man who also has questioned the results of the 2020 presidential election, and Mike O’Donnell, a nonprofit executive who lives in Kirk, are also running for the GOP secretary of state nomination. O’Donnell objects to Election Day voter registration and claims that many registered voters aren’t citizens.

Colorado’s primary will be held June 28.

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....