For the first time in almost a decade, since I ran for state Senate, I will open my home to a political event this Saturday evening. Ironically, it will be for the person who currently holds the office I had hoped to fill.
Along with former state Rep. Cole Wist, former FirstBank CEO John Ikard, and political activist Margaret Ash, I am hosting a fundraiser for Brittany Pettersen. We are each politically unaffiliated but have chosen to support Pettersen’s congressional campaign for a myriad of reasons.
First and foremost, Pettersen is a good, kind person and public servant. A fellow product of Jefferson County Public Schools, Pettersen survived a difficult childhood marred by mental health and substance use disorders in her family.
It created a lifelong passion to serve others afflicted by similar circumstances. That led to a career in politics.
It is exactly the type of bootstrap success story our society glorifies.
I can attest that it not a political act, either. Pettersen is not one person in public and another behind closed doors. She lives a few blocks away from me and I frequently stop by her house to say hello or go on a walk with her husband, Ian, their dog and their towhead toddler.
More often than not, when we walk out the door, Pettersen is seated at her kitchen table surrounded by paper and a laptop while making calls to push through policy that she cares about. I get a wave and smile and know she is fighting for me and for every constituent in her district.
That is more than enough to earn my vote.
At the same time, my support for Pettersen is also a stand against autocratic rule. I cannot and will not stand aside as the democratic pillars of our country are rent asunder by a political party beholden to a tyrant.
Prior to Pettersen, this cycle I gave exclusively to Republicans I believed could help that cause. I contributed to Pam Anderson because she has been a stalwart defender of election integrity in a party that prefers unfounded conspiracy theories. I donated to Don Coram and his Quixotic quest to upend the congressional queen of bloodlust rhetoric.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski from Alaska got an online donation after I had the opportunity to meet her in a small dinner setting last year and saw firsthand that her independent attitude toward politics is authentic. She voted to impeach former President Donald Trump, but should retain her seat thanks to Alaska’s unique non-party, ranked choice primary election system.
And, of course, I helped to fill the coffers of Rep. Liz Cheney’s campaign. She has become the avatar for people who put country and principle over party and power. She may have lost her seat in Congress on Tuesday, but she never lost her way.
The same cannot be said of the GOP members in power in Washington, D.C.
Ultimately, I cannot support someone who would support leadership that would push us into the abyss. I do not know much about Pettersen’s opponent — I did not even know he is an election denier until Wist pointed it out on Twitter — but I do know that he would support a party opposed to the peaceful transition of power.
If Pettersen does not win in 2022, we will be one step closer to electoral chaos in 2024. A U.S. House of Representatives majority that refuses to certify the presidential election of an opposition party member would do more harm all the January 6th insurrectionists. They would effectively nullify the oldest democracy in the world.
I suspect this dynamic is exactly what has pushed former Republicans like Wist and me, and unaffiliated voters like Ikard and Ash (both of whom are also co-hosting), to support Pettersen and Democrats like her across the country.
Pettersen will be a strong voice for Colorado in Congress. What is more, she will be an ardent defender of our democracy. If you agree, feel free to drop by next Saturday night. It might be your last chance for another 10 years.
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