Before the just-completed primary election fades into the rear-view mirror, it's worthwhile to reflect on some of the personalities, events and controversies that lit up Colorado's political world, if only briefly, but that almost certainly won't influence the 19-week march to the Nov. 8 general election.
There's no shortage of takeaways from Colorado's June 28 vote — chiefly concluding that voters in the Republican primary rejected candidates who made election conspiracy theories central to their campaigns and wondering whether Democrats wasted a lot of money trying to achieve a different outcome.
Missing, however, is a roster of the things that happened in the primary that will stay in the primary.
Some motifs and memes from this year's primary are sure to keep cropping up into November — candidates on both sides are already attacking their opponents as “too extreme for Colorado” — just as many of the candidates who didn't win their party's nomination are sure to give it another try in future elections.
That's one reason the list doesn't include, for instance, the components of the Modern Pentathlon — fencing, swimming, horse riding, shooting and running — even though that was Olympian Eli Bremer's event. Although he failed to qualify for the U.S. Senate primary at the state GOP assembly, there's a good chance he'll be back. (There's also a raging controversy over whether to replace equestrian jumping with an obstacle course starting with the 2028 Los Angeles Games, after a German coach punched a horse who wouldn't jump last summer in Tokyo.)
Here are eight things to leave behind as Colorado shifts gears to the 2022 general election.
Exploding office equipment
Republican state Rep. Ron Hanks burst his way into a crowded U.S. Senate primary field with a bang in early October, declaring himself a "pro-Trump warrior" in a campaign video as he fires a rifle at a photocopier loaded with target explosive and labelled "Dominion Voting Machine." The video was later removed by YouTube for violating its terms of services. While Hanks broadened his message to advocate for "re-securing America" on numerous fronts, Republican primary voters removed him from the ticket in favor of business owner Joe O'Dea.
Ballots without choices
Voters in the Democratic primary only faced contested races in a few legislative and congressional districts this year, since Democratic incumbents hold every statewide office on the ballot, and they didn't face primary challengers. The rare occurrence — Republicans were in the same situation in 2002 — might have motivated more unaffiliated voters than usual to pick GOP ballots, which were loaded with choices, possibly moderating the results.
RIP, GOP's petition curse
For only the second time in 40 years, Colorado Republicans nominated a top-ticket candidate — for senator or governor — who petitioned into the primary rather than making the ballot at assembly, when O'Dea defeated Hanks in the U.S. Senate primary. Republicans and Democrats alike say it's time to take a fresh look at Colorado's rustic nominating system and vow to follow through next election cycle.
Unaffiliated Texas lawyer Stanley Thorne
Speaking of the state's quirky nominating system, Republican assembly delegates voted conservative radio personality Stanley Thorne onto the primary ballot for attorney general, though he was removed days later after it turned out he didn't meet crucial requirements — the Texas lawyer wasn't licensed to practice law in Colorado and had been registered for years as unaffiliated without realizing it.
Flying feces as political metaphor
Democratic congressional candidate Alex Walker announced his run for the 3rd District seat held by U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert with a lavishly produced campaign video that featured enormous piles of excrement falling from the sky in what the political novice said was a studied attempt to capture attention and reframe the political discussion on more confrontational terms. The ad, which also depicted projectile vomiting and a Boebert stand-in spraying what looks like raw sewage, went viral, and Walker kept up a stream of no-nonsense invective but finished a distant third in the primary.
Donkey kick or scorpion kick?
Republican Tina Peters, the Mesa County clerk and a leading proponent of baseless election conspiracy theories, made headlines for months before declaring her candidacy for secretary of state, including when she was arrested in February at a Grand Junction bagel shop for allegedly obstructing officers as they attempted to seize evidence from her under a search warrant. The incident, captured on video, appears to show Peters kicking behind her at officers, though she's demonstrated the move at political events, explaining she wasn't kicking but simply standing up quickly in tight quarters.
Peters was later hit with indictments on seven felony charges related to allegations she tampered with election equipment, which led to the state GOP calling on Peters to suspend her campaign for the state's top election official. She's also facing a contempt of court charge, numerous ethics investigations and an ongoing federal investigation. While Peters denies she's done anything wrong, voters handed her a loss in the primary.
One person, how many votes?
Making his second unsuccessful run for governor, Republican Greg Lopez floated some bold proposals along the way to earning top line on the primary ballot at the state assembly. Among them was a plan to change Colorado's voting system to give rural residents more influence in statewide elections than their urban and suburban counterparts.
Lopez said he wanted to "(do) away with the popular vote for statewide elected officials" and substitute an electoral college based on the state's 64 counties, with tiny, sparsely populated counties carrying as much or more weight than their densely populated neighbors. If Lopez's plan had been in effect, 9News calculated, GOP gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton would have won the 2018 race in a landslide, instead of losing by double digits to Democrat Jared Polis, as happened with the state's current, one-person, one-vote system.
Lopez lost the 2022 primary to Heidi Ganahl, though since she won only 22 counties and he won 42, things might have turned out differently under his proposal.
Tim Reichert and the altar of Baal
Tim Reichert, the Golden economist who committed $500,000 to his bid for the open 7th Congressional District seat represented by retiring Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter campaigned on his plan to restore the American middle class but was also strongly opposed to abortion.
In a video recorded last year and first reported on by Huffington Post, Reichert said, "Every abortion is a human sacrifice" and made clear he wasn't speaking metaphorically. “Every abortion feeds the demonic and thereby contributes directly to the demise of the church, the demise of America and the demise of the West," he said, adding that he viewed "every abortion" as "fuel for the demonic, because it is the sacrifice of a child at the altar of Baal.”
Baal, the chief of the Canaanite gods, came to stand for Yahweh's rivals in the Old Testament and is considered the inspiration for a powerful demon by the same name sometimes described as having the head of a cat, a toad and a man.
Reichert, who was endorsed by beer magnate Pete Coors, former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown and former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, lost the primary to fellow first-time candidate Erik Aadland, a West Point graduate and former oil and gas executive.