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Littwin: In Colorado, and at the Jan. 6 hearing in Washington, the Big Lie has a very bad day

The election deniers were swept away in the big statewide races in the Colorado GOP primary. Of course, Tina Peters would predictably claim she was robbed.

In an upset of upsets, they held a Republican primary in Colorado and truth — or some version relatively close to it — actually won the day, 

Meaning the Big Lie got crushed.

Meaning a solid majority of Colorado Republicans — and those unaffiliated voters who also participated in the GOP primary — must have somehow seen the light. 

Mike Littwin

Meaning big-time loser Tina Peters would naturally claim that election officials were “cheating” and had “flipped” the vote totals in the secretary of state’s race. As we know, Peters, the Mesa County clerk, had been barred from officiating in the Mesa County vote, which can happen when a county clerk has been indicted on seven election-related felonies. 

Peters didn’t just lose. At press time, she was running in third place. Former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson, a non-conspirator who actually knows something about elections, would win easily and will face incumbent Jena Griswold. But even little-known Mike O’Donnell was running slightly ahead of Peters.

“It’s not over. Keep the faith,” Peters told the faithful. I assume the MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell, was listening in from somewhere. I also assume that Donald Trump, a big supporter, had more important things on his mind.

I’m not sure how to explain what happened. 

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Maybe Republicans have been watching the January 6 hearings and have seen how little credibility is still attached to the never-credible Big Lie. Since it’s a mostly mail-in election, though, most of the votes had come in long before Tuesday’s blockbuster hearing in which truth, and possibly what’s left of American democracy, also had a very good day. 

Thanks to stunning testimony from 26-year-old former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, we learned that Trump and his team knew there would be violence on Jan. 6, that Trump urged on rioters even after he was told some were armed, that he tried to grab the wheel of his limo when Secret Service agents wouldn’t drive him to join the insurrectionists at the Capitol, that he’s as unhinged as we all suspected. 

Or maybe the anti-Big Lie vote suggests that many of those Republicans who keep telling pollsters they believe the 2020 election was rigged don’t really believe it at all.

What I do know is that many expect this November’s midterms to be a turnaround election for Republicans nationwide. But there was a real possibility Colorado Republicans would throw away any chance of joining in. Let’s just say they’ve done it before. And often.

In the big Colorado races, Democratic incumbents will likely still be favored in November, but the election deniers, at least those in statewide races, were roundly rejected by GOP voters. For Republicans, that is a very good thing. Because none of the deniers — not the much-indicted Peters for secretary of state, not the hugely embarrassing Ron Hanks for U.S. Senate, not Greg Lopez or any of the strange ideas he rolled out in his bid for governor — had any chance at all in a general election.

Heidi Ganahl, who beat Lopez in the governor’s race and will next face Jared Polis, finally got the message in the closing days of the campaign. She had spent months refusing to answer questions about the Big Lie or much else. Finally, she said that though there were problems with election fraud — not that she could name any — she admitted Joe Biden had rightfully won.

It was a test. And state Republicans, who suffered their biggest wipeout in memory in 2020, mostly passed. (Yes, election deniers Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn all won their congressional primaries, but, let’s face it, there are limits to all things.)

Now there’s another test coming in November. In a midterm election in which the party in power traditionally loses seats, in a midterm election in which Biden is polling in Trump territory, state Democrats will be forced to prove just how blue the former swing state of Colorado actually is if they want to hold on to their jobs.

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We know how the Democrats were rooting. We know it from all the millions Democratic-allied groups had spent on boosting the chances of the Republican election deniers. If you read Michael Bennet’s campaign mailings, you’d barely know that Joe O’Dea, the political novice who beat Hanks in the Senate primary, was even in the race. O’Dea, the construction company owner, may be more moderate than Hanks, but so are 95% of all Americans.

Hanks, Peters and Lopez would not just have lost. If they’d been on the ticket in November, they would have likely taken a bunch of Republicans — particularly those in legislative races — down with them.

But let’s give Boebert credit where it’s due. She raises money with every new outrage, and from what I’m told, Don Coram, who ran against her in the 3rd Congressional District primary, never really put up much of a fight.

Still, Boebert did her best to give her opponent all the ammunition anyone could hope for — and right up until the very last moment. On Sunday, for example, she went to the Cornerstone Christian Center in Basalt to say she was “tired of this separation of church and state junk.” And blamed it all apparently on a letter written by Thomas Jefferson.

Yes, she really did. And, once again, she was all over the national news, and not in a good way. 

“The church is supposed to direct the government,” she said. “The government is not supposed to direct the church. That is not how our Founding Fathers intended it.”

Then came this: “I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk that’s not in the Constitution. It was in a stinking letter, and it means nothing like what they say it does.” 

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The stinking letter was presumably the one Jefferson wrote in 1802 to the Danbury Baptist Association, in which he stated that the First Amendment builds “a wall of separation between Church & State.” Boebert, surprisingly, didn’t explain what she thought the author of the Declaration of Independence actually meant to say. 

Still, she won easily. And she’ll almost certainly win easily in November. But you can be just as certain that Colorado Democrats will try to pin every Boebert word and deed on as many Republicans as they possibly can.

But Republican voters can thank themselves that Democrats won’t get the chance to do the same — as they had hoped — with Peters, Hanks and Lopez. No lie.


Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.


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