Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters recently kicked a cop as he arrested her for obstructing justice. Last week, she kicked off her campaign for Colorado Secretary of State.

It is only a matter of time before Peters sets a new low in her efforts to kill democracy.

That is not hyperbole. Peters is running to be the state’s top election official. She has also made it clear she believes in only two kinds of elections: those that lead to her preferred outcome and those in which she claims fraud.

Mario Nicolais

Peter is not just fact-resistant, she has actively worked to undermine objective fact. That is the basis of the mounting criminal investigations and potential charges against her. She allegedly worked to break into election databases, duplicate them and transfer them to a pillow magnate.

Then she actively evaded investigation by fleeing her home.

As her deputy, and alleged co-conspirator, appeared in court, Peters is accused of attempting to record the proceeding in direct violation of an order issued by the judge. She then allegedly lied about her efforts, which eventually led investigators to obtain a search warrant for her iPad, the confrontation at a Grand Junction bakery and the obstruction charges.

Peters’ actions demonstrate her disregard for the laws written by the legislature, her contempt for the processes mandated by the executive and the edicts of the judiciary. She is literally undermining all three branches of government.

The damage such a person could do as Secretary of State is unfathomable. We are not talking about a hyper-partisan pol pushing their agenda within the confines of law. We are talking about someone who recognizes no law except her own. We are talking about someone who has already demonstrated the willingness to corrupt elections to ensure her preferred outcome.

As Secretary of State, Peters could destabilize the entire electoral system in Colorado.

It would all be ridiculous if there were not a real chance that she could be the next Secretary of State. 

Peters has a loyal and rabid base of supporters. They turned up at court when a judge heard evidence to strip Peters of her ability to oversee the 2021 election. A state senator called her a “gold star mom and public servant” and attacked current Secretary of State Jena Griswold. Just this month Peters received a standing ovation from a crowd that cheered a call to hang Griswold.

That type of fervent support can help a candidate win a place on the ballot in the byzantine caucus and assembly process Colorado political parties use to nominate candidates. It can also help push them across the line in a low-turnout primary. 

It is the exact same scenario I warned about two years ago when Lauren Boebert was just a brash upstart challenging five-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton for a congressional seat.

Ignore Peters at your own peril. And mine. And every other Coloradan who believes in democracy.

Thankfully, there do seem to be some excellent candidates competing for the same job. I am a big fan of Pam Anderson (I have donated to her campaign) and her record seems to have earned her plenty of support in the Republican base. Furthermore, Anderson is likely to draw overwhelming support from unaffiliated voters who can vote in either major party primary. Given the dearth of races on the Democratic side, I for one will vote in the Republican primary.

If Peters edges by Anderson, Griswold has amassed a war chest unparalleled by any prior Secretary of State. That could grow exponentially if Peters is her opponent. Not only would Peters act like jet-fuel to propel Griswold’s own fundraising — she has already begun referencing Peters in her communications — but outside interest groups would surely spend big to keep Peters out of office.

In the interim, no one could be blamed for growing a little concerned. Democracy in Colorado is under threat, and Tina Peters is leading the charge, kicking and screaming.

Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq

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