Tina Peters advances to June primary ballot despite facing charges for election tampering
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- It is state assembly weekend in Colorado. The Democrats are holding their assembly virtually, while the Republicans are gathered in Colorado Springs, both looking to find candidates to take back both the House and the Senate.
The assembly is an opportunity for delegates to nominate candidates for the June primary ballot.
Many candidates walked on stage at the Broadmoor World Area in the Springs, building platforms centered around attacking alleged voter fraud. It's a point of contention within the party. Although, many Republicans publicly aligned themselves with embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters during Saturday's event.
Peters faces ten criminal counts for allegedly tampering with election equipment in an effort to expose what she believed were widespread voting machine discrepancies.
Peters danced her way to the stage, as Elton John's "I'm Still Standing" played behind a video promoting her campaign for Colorado Secretary of State.
"I've taken their best shot, they made me sleep on the concrete jail floor for 30 hours, because I protected your election data," Peters told the crowd.
Peters' charges come after she was accused of leaking Mesa County voting machine passwords onto the internet.
Still, she's a star to many at the state Republican assembly, gaining significantly more than enough delegate votes to get on the top line of the GOP primary ballot in June. Peters received 60.57% of the assembly vote. Peters will be up against Mike O’Donnell, a Yuma County candidate who earned 39.4% of the vote, and Pam Anderson, a more moderate candidate who had enough petitions to land on the ballot. Of the three, only Anderson denies widespread voter fraud changed the outcome of the 2020 November election.
Peters' path to the post is concerning to incumbent election official Jena Griswold, Colorado's current Secretary of State.
"Tina Peters is a risk to Colorado elections. Tina Peters compromised her own county's voting equipment after allowing an unauthorized person access to voting machines. It cost the county $1 million. But on top of that, she has embraced extremism," Griswold told KRDO Saturday.
Peters has appeared on programs with MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, who is known for frequently spreading debunked election conspiracy theories.
Republican candidates are now publicly aligning with Peters though, despite the Colorado GOP asking her to suspend her campaign following her indictment.
"God bless Ron Hanks and Tina Peters!" State Rep. Dave Williams shouted on stage. He's a candidate to take fellow Republican Doug Lamborn's seat in Congress.
Hanks is a State representative too, now on the primary ballot for Michael Bennet's U.S. Senate seat. He's tying himself to Peters too, touting widespread election fraud, and disagreeing with Griswold's assertion that Colorado elections are safe, secure, and the gold standard.
"I'll call [Griswold] out on it, Hanks said. "There's nothing gold standard about this. It's a disgrace, actually. It needs massive review."
Last month Griswold worked with state legislators to introduce Senate Bill 22-153. If it passes, it prohibits people with election-related offenses from running elections. It also bans election officials from knowingly spreading misinformation.
Griswold doesn't shy away from admitting it's aimed at Peters. If it becomes law, it would be illegal for Peters to have the position if she's elected, and convicted on those charges.
"I think it's dangerous to democracy, frankly," Griswold said of election fraud claims swirling at the GOP assembly. "We have seen the big lie grow. It's the underlying foundation of laws and bills to take away Americans' freedom to vote."
Griswold told KRDO that she's confident that Senate Bill 22-153 would be passed into law before the election. She says she's heard from Republicans that are on board too.
Still, Peters will move forward to the June primary following Saturday's event.