The question still in front of Colorado Republicans, who are understandably hopeful about their chances this November after being completely wiped out in 2018, is whether they remember how to win statewide elections.

Mike Littwin

We all know the deal. In a midterm election, especially one where the president’s approval ratings are, as inconceivable as it seems, as bad as or even worse than Donald Trump’s in 2018, when inflation is out of control and they’re even talking about a possible recession, the party out of power has a great chance of picking up a boatload of seats.

Colorado Republicans made a huge step forward in this month’s primaries by rejecting the craziest of the crazies, apparently finally learning the lesson that nominating fringe candidates like Dan Maes and Darryl Glenn — or those like, say, Ron Hanks or Tina Peters — means sure defeat in a statewide race in Colorado. 

What I’m saying is Rep. Lauren Boebert may easily win reelection come November in the 3rd CD, but put her in a statewide race, and it would be bye-bye Boebert. That’s the story of the ever-more-bluish Colorado of today. It’s the story that Tom Tancredo’s failures should have taught Republicans long ago.

But then along comes Heidi Ganahl, who finally broke her primary-long silence on the Big Lie just before Election Day. She made the standard GOP non-denier declaration that though there may have been election fraud, there wasn’t enough to change the outcome of the 2020 election.

I mean, you’d think if there had been any significant fraud, the thousands of people desperately looking for it would have found at least some by now. Instead we watch the January 6 hearings and get an entirely different picture of who attempted to steal what. As Republican Rep. Liz Cheney says, Donald Trump should never be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office again. It’s even worse than that for Trump. Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post and Wall Street Journal editorials have made the same point. 

Is that where Ganahl stands? I’m just waiting to hear from Sean Hannity. 

When she finally denied being a denier, Ganahl’s move obviously had little to do with the GOP primary for governor, given that, according to all the polls, a majority of Colorado Republicans — like Republicans everywhere — still believe Joe Biden’s victory was somehow tainted.

The move had to be a general election move. She had finally found an answer to the question of where she stood on the Big Lie, one that she could use on the day her race against Jared Polis would officially begin.

So far, so good, and then Ganahl goes ahead and picks Danny Moore to be her running mate. The thing about lieutenant governors is that they have basically no power in Colorado under the state constitution. There’s nothing for them to do unless the governor generously decides to put them to work, which most governors do.

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This is a pick that should go under the first-do-no-harm category. Instead, Ganahl made it a spit-take move.

At least I did a spit take. Come on. The only thing I know about Moore and the only thing that anyone else knows about Moore is that he was unanimously kicked out of his job as chair of Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission once it was revealed that his Facebook posts were rife with election-denial misinformation and disinformation. 

So, why would Ganahl, who had been so careful to avoid saying anything about her views on election denial tell us, uh, everything? She had already been found hanging out with white nationalists. How did she think this was going to help, particularly in a race in which she is a huge underdog to Polis, the self-funding multi-multimillionaire who managed to navigate his way through COVID with a positive approval rating? 

While it’s true that many liberals may not be particularly thrilled with Polis, Ganahl, and now Moore, give them no choice but to back the governor. Moore is Black, and Ganahl, as a woman, is saying that this ticket would be the most diverse in Colorado history. Of course, Polis is gay and Jewish and unique in Colorado politics.

Democrats will be pushing Roe and January 6 and the Big Lie in hopes that politics guru Nate Silver is right when he says that a president’s low approval rating does not necessarily translate into what Barack Obama once called a midterm “shellacking.”

Democrats expect to take votes soon in the Senate on guns and same-sex marriage — votes they actually think they’ll win. There may also be a take-names vote on codifying Roe, which will put pressure on candidates like Joe O’Dea, who is running against incumbent Michael Bennet for Senate and trying very hard to look like a moderate — what he calls a GOP version of Joe Manchin. Let’s just say that running as Manchin 2.0 may not be the best way to lure many Colorado Democrats.

There will almost certainly be more abortion-related votes coming next year in the state legislature. And Ganahl will be forced to threaten to veto any such laws that would make it to her desk. That might be an even riskier position in Colorado than backing the Big Lie.

Personally, I’m waiting to see the debate between Ganahl and Polis about eliminating the state income tax. Polis would raise other taxes in what seems like a crazy idea to me. Ganahl hasn’t said what she’ll do to make up the shortfall because, if she’s not raising other taxes, she’d have to cut Colorado’s budget way past the bone.

What’s left of the Colorado Republican establishment was rooting for Ganahl over Greg Lopez, already a one-time gubernatorial loser with more than a few strange ideas of his own, in the GOP primary. But now, in an interview with CBS4, GOP operative Dick Wadhams, who has been trying desperately to move the Colorado party at least a little closer to the center, said he thought picking Moore was a terrible mistake for Ganahl, and that it doesn’t “help Heidi at all.” 

It was shocking to hear Wadhams labeling Ganahl and Moore as a “combination of two people who have flirted with (election denial) way too closely.”

What Wadhams knows, though, is that Jared Polis is already firing up campaign ads that will tell us the exact same thing.

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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Mike Littwin

Special to The Colorado Sun Email: Twitter: @mike_littwin