Colorado GOP

The Colorado GOP Just Went All In on Election Conspiracies

June’s GOP primary election will be crowded with candidates who insist the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.
A Donald Trump supporter holds a Stop the Steal sign while gathering on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol to protest the election on January 6, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Colorado is seen by many as having the “gold standard” of election systems, but on Saturday the Colorado Republican Party spent the day selecting some of the country’s biggest boosters of election conspiracies to represent it.

At the Colorado GOP’s state assembly, which took place in the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, the loudest cheer of the day was reserved for Tina Peters, the Mesa County clerk and recorder and secretary of state candidate who’s become a superstar in the wing of the GOP that believes the election was stolen.


Peters, who faces seven felony charges related to a security breach at her offices last summer that led to sensitive data being leaked to a QAnon influencer, received 60 percent of votes from the 3,749 GOP assembly delegates present, according to CPR News. That means her name will be among those on the Republican primary ballot for secretary of state on June 28, alongside Mike O’Donnell and Pam Anderson.

“This arena is full of constitutional conservatives who believe our elections are not yet secure,” Peters told the crowd. She claimed Democrats have been trying to silence her to “spook voters”—though a recent lawsuit filed by voting rights groups claims that a group aligned with Peters, known as the U.S. Election Integrity Plan, is the one intimidating voters.

Peters’ nomination comes just days after she held a conspiracy-fueled rally in front of the state Capitol last week, along with pillow salesman and election conspiracy booster Mike Lindell.

If she succeeds in June’s primary, Peters will face off against incumbent Secretary of State Jena Griswold in November’s election. On Saturday Griswold reacted to Peters’ nomination by calling her “a clear threat to Colorado’s elections and to democracy itself.”


Peters has denied any wrongdoing, but even if she is convicted of the charges against her, she might still escape punishment: GOP gubernatorial candidate George Lopez, who secured the top billing on the June primary ballot on Saturday, told the crowd he’d pardon Peters if he were elected.

Lopez topped the vote by embracing the election conspiracy line. 

“We the people want fair elections,” Lopez told the crowd, according to the Colorado Sun. “It is time we clear up our voter rolls and stop the ballot harvesting.”

Rounding out a trio of election-denying conspiracy theorists to make the June primary is Ron Hanks, a state representative who firmly believes the election was stolen and who was in Washington, D.C. for the Jan. 6 “Save America” Trump rally that preceded the Capitol riot.

Hanks secured almost 39 percent of the vote and beat out five other candidates to secure his place in the race for the U.S. Senate nomination, and took the opportunity to compare the 2020 election to the attacks on the World Trade Center. 

“I fully expected Donald Trump to win in 2020—and he did,” Hanks said, the Colorado Sun reported. “When we saw what we saw on election night in 2020, it changed everything. Just like the changes we felt after 9/11.” 


Hanks will face off against construction company owner Joe O’Dea on the June 28 primary ballot, after O’Dea collected enough petition signatures to secure a spot in the primary.

After putting three major election conspiracy boosters on the ballot, Colorado Republicans tried to descend even further into the election truther conspiracy rabbit hole on Saturday.

First, they briefly put conspiracy guru Joe Oltmann on the ballot for governor.

Oltmann, a far-right conspiracy theorist who in December called for Democratic Gov. Jared Polis to be hanged, was selected following a motion from the floor that was seconded by state Rep. Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, a former House minority leader.

Oltmann has been one of the primary pushers of election conspiracies since the 2020 election. To take advantage of his newfound fame within the far right of the GOP, he founded the conservative political group FEC United, which has a militia wing and is aiming to help get a slate of candidates elected in El Paso County.


But Oltmann ultimately declined the nomination, telling the assembled crowd to instead put their energies into backing Peters and Hanks. In a Telegram post on Saturday evening, Oltmann said he would “be more effective in helping candidates across the nation and standing side-by-side with my American brothers and sisters. It’s time to take back our country. It’s time to Eliminate the cowards and traitors Who have hurt our communities and degraded our country.”

But Oltmann’s decision not to pursue the nomination could have something to do with the fact that he’s very busy right now: He’s a defendant in a defamation lawsuit being brought by former Dominion Voting Systems executive Eric Coomer over Oltmann’s claims that he had infiltrated an “antifa conference call” in which Coomer said he had ensured Trump would not win the election. Last month Oltmann was ordered to pay $33,000 for failing to sit for a deposition and reveal the identity of the person who gave him access to the antifa conference call.

On Sunday on Telegram, Oltmann made an appeal for money, claiming the lawsuit had so far cost him $500,000. His crowdfunding campaign on GiveSendGo has so far raised $84,000 of its $500,00 goal. 

But the attempt to get Oltmann on the ballot wasn’t even the most ludicrous thing Republicans tried to do on Saturday.

Heading into Saturday’s assembly, John Kellner, the District Attorney in Arapahoe County, was the only known candidate seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general. 


But after Kellner spoke to the crowd, a man in the crowd raised his hand and announced that he too was seeking the nomination, according to Colorado Pols. The man was Stanley Thorne, a Texas attorney and, according to his LinkedIn profile, the host of a radio show called Dr. Thorne’s Traveling Emporium and Medicine Show.

Thorne addressed the delegates and urged them to vote for him simply because, he said, Kellner is not doing enough to support Peters.

Despite having no history in Colorado politics, Thorne’s simple appeal to the most extreme wing of the GOP meant that he secured a huge 42 percent of the votes and—briefly—a place in June’s primary.

Thorne’s place in the primary was quickly revoked when people figured out that he is not licensed to practice law in Colorado—a prerequisite to be attorney general—and isn’t even a registered Republican.

Thorne’s removal from the primary race was confirmed by Colorado GOP chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown, who tweeted that Kellner was among those candidates who would not face a primary.

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