He might forever be known as "the kid of the Trump campaign" in Colorado, and Weston Imer is fine with that.
The Jefferson County youth rocketed to brief national fame almost five years ago when he co-chaired the 2016 Trump campaign's county office at age 12, alongside his mother, Laurel Imer, who chaired the county operation.
Along with singing the national anthem at some of the numerous Trump rallies in Colorado that summer and fall, the young Imer was nearly ubiquitous, joining politicos many times his age on welcoming teams for campaign surrogates, including Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump.
It was Eric Trump who tagged Weston "the kid of the Trump campaign," he says, and for a time he was recognized on the street and at public events.
"It's honestly something that still follows me to this day," Imer, now 17, said in a recent interview. "But lately, I'm not as much recognized for that as I am recognized for my work on Laurel Imer for Congress and Laurel Imer for House District 24, for those types of races. But the President Trump campaign, it follows me around to this day."
He's hoping some of that Trump magic can rub off on his mom's long-shot bid to unseat eight-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, launched earlier this year in Jefferson and Adams counties' 7th Congressional District after she lost a run last year in the Democratic-leaning HD 24, which covers parts of Wheat Ridge, Lakewood and Golden.
Imer managed his mom's legislative race and is running her congressional campaign, which has won endorsements from former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, 2018 CD7 nominee Mark Barrington and attorney Randy Corporon, one of Colorado's three envoys to the Republican National Committee.
Since his attention-getting turn with the Trump campaign in 2016, Imer has parlayed his passion for politics into what's shaping up to be a career. In addition to running the local Kids for Trump and Teens for Trump coalitions, he worked as an aide on Trump fan Steve Barlock's 2018 gubernatorial run and as a strategist on Barrington's congressional campaign.
In 2020, Imer interned on the Trump campaign and managed his mom's run, capping the year by starting up Prodigy Consulting Group — a "one-stop shop" for all things political, he says — and helping found America First Republicans, a candidate recruitment and training outfit run by perennial GOP congressional candidate Casper Stockham. He also helped out this spring on Stockham's unsuccessful run for state Republican Party chairman.
Imer recently stepped back from his role at America First Republicans, he says, to avoid any conflict of interest with his job running his mom's congressional campaign.
Including Trump's 2016 loss in Jefferson County and 2020 loss statewide, the campaigns Imer has worked on have laid goose eggs in every election. Do his prospective clients ask if he's going to win one at some point?
Imer responds with a laugh but shrugs off the question.
"I hear you, but I am of the mindset — and I know there's other people out there that feel this way — is you have to lose to learn how to win."
He says he counts Stockham's state party chair run as a victory, even though Stockham finished in third place behind eventual winner Kristi Burton Brown and former Secretary of State Scott Gessler.
"We got a strong conservative candidate elected to the chair position, and Casper also was then appointed to the state executive committee, where he is able to have some influence on where the party goes directionally," Imer says. "We may have lost the battle, but in our eyes, we won the war."
He says they "never expected a victory" in last year's HD 24 race against incumbent Democratic Rep. Monica Duran.
"The numbers were stacked against us and we knew that that race was not winnable," he says, adding that his mom nonetheless "succeed[ed] in the fundraising department and the ground game. It was really more of a grassroots success than a victory."
The legislative campaign raised just over $30,000 — including about $2,500 in in-kind contributions — compared to the $80,000 Duran took in. Duran won the race by 28 points.
Although she announced her congressional run a few weeks before the end of the year's first fundraising quarter, Laurel Imer has yet to file a campaign finance report, which isn't required until a candidate raises or spends at least $5,000.
It's been a challenge getting Republicans to open up their wallets, Imer says, because potential donors believe claims by Trump and his allies that the last election was stolen and fear the next one could be too, even though none of the claims have withstood scrutiny.
"The main reason that we're having this problem is Republican donors are extremely tightly focused on election integrity," he says. "They're so caught up on their fear of contributing to a losing cause that they don't realize that if they were to contribute, they can combat the leftist machine that has taken over the electoral system."
Imer says he's heard the same complaints from other candidates, including a sitting congressman he recently met with, and adds: "They feel that their vote has been taken from them, rightfully so. I am one of the strong believers that the 2020 election was stolen from President Trump.
"And part of that is they're afraid to contribute to any campaigns right now because they're afraid that they're just basically flushing their money down the drain because the Democrats are going to rig it against them anyways, and that no matter what they do, it's going to result in the same outcome. And so that's been the real uphill battle we've been facing."
Despite an assessment by the Trump administration's Department of Homeland Security that the 2020 election was conducted safely and securely, and successful audits of the vote count in Colorado, Imer says he's convinced Colorado's elections have long been tainted.
"I don't think that the statewide elections have been run safely, fairly or securely for several years," he says. "And I'll explain why. That reason is that Dominion Voting was adopted here in Colorado many, many years ago. We were sort of the testing ground for them. And then we went to all-mail in ballots and we've seen how this mail-in balloting can be used across the country and cause questions in the election, and that there is massive fraud with that."
Dominion, a voting equipment manufacturer headquartered in Denver, has been a persistent target of baseless accusations that it swung the 2020 election to Democrats. Several right-wing news outlets facing billion-dollar lawsuits from Dominion have issued corrections to earlier reporting about the company, while others — including former top Trump legal advisers — are still facing defamation lawsuits.
That doesn't stop Imer from spinning an elaborate theory about how the company has long used Colorado as a "proving ground" for fixing elections.
"I think that because Dominion was implemented so many years ago that they've had the ability to take just more and more of the elections out from under our noses without us noticing, because if you look back in the previous elections, they've taken a seat here and a seat there, then a statewide here and a statewide there, until eventually they controlled the entire state and we only had two Republican statewide elected officials," he says.
Imer was referring to the situation prior to last year's election, when U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner lost a bid for another term, leaving just one statewide elected Republican, CU Regent at-large Heidi Ganahl.
Imer stops short of trucking with another apparently widespread belief in Trump World, that Trump will be installed back in the White House later this summer, following a number of unconventional audits currently under way or proposed in some swing states.
"There has been a lot of talk that if it’s proven that the election was stolen, as I believe it was, that the chance is that Donald Trump would be reinstated as president," Imer says, reacting to news reports this week that Trump himself has been telling associates that's what he expects.
"I don’t believe that will happen, unfortunately," Imer says. "I don’t want to give people false hope, because that's what caused Jan. 6."
Imer was in Washington, D.C., interning for U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, when Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. He ended his internship and returned home right after that happened.
Imer wants to change the way statewide elections are tallied because Colorado's results are often swayed by a handful of its most populous counties.
"I think that Colorado is governed by five majority counties — Denver, El Paso, Jefferson, Arapahoe and Adams," he says. "And I think that until that is changed, until there is more focus put on the outlying counties to determine the election statewide, I don't think we will ever have a fair shake in Colorado because those five counties consistently determine statewide elections."
The five densely populated Front Range counties account for more than half of the state's population.
"A lot of us Republicans in Colorado feel that there needs to be some type of Electoral College-style system across the 64 counties," he says. "And what we mean by that is that each county is allocated a certain number of votes at the state level and that whoever wins the majority of the counties carries the state, for those statewide and Senate races and presidential as well. What that would then do is it would force the Republican Party and the Democrat Party to put focus on some of those outlying counties that are not considered as having a voice."
The plan could run into constitutional problems by tossing the "one-person, one-vote" principle overboard.
Adds Imer: "I think that if something like that were implemented, we would see a lot more Republicans elected, as well as fair elections across the state."
Looking ahead to next year's elections — both his mom's race and others he'll be working on and advising — Imer says the key to Republican wins in Colorado lies in aligning their message behind Trump's.
"Republicans, I think, really need to unite behind the 'America First' message. And that's something that we've really focused on at America First Republicans, was to focus on the America First policies that got President Trump elected and that, I believe, got him re-elected," Imer says.
"What that means is that they need to support border security, free and fair elections, putting America first, tariffs on other countries, Americans getting the best prices on everything, exporting oil and gas — all of those very important policies that President Trump represented and did, they need to be carried across at the state level. And I do think that if Republicans unite behind that, I think that we will see a very good chance in 2022 to retake the U.S. House and possibly take back the state Senate."
He adds, "We'll see how that plays out, but I think that using those policies, I think we can definitely see a good result for Republicans across the state."
He's also planning to focus on voter registration as part of his mom's congressional campaign.
"We're kind of taking up a presidential-style campaign approach to this race, because it's something that not a lot of Republican candidates have done, is none of them have really focused on voter registration," he says.
Meanwhile, Imer is keeping a packed schedule, attending flight school to become a commercial airline pilot and working at an Italian restaurant in Wheat Ridge. He finished high school in November and plans to celebrate graduation this month.
Home-schooled since early 2017 — after leaving a charter school where he had been enrolled when officials wouldn't give him an excused absence to attend Trump's inauguration — Imer says he's taking a gap year to get his pilot's license and run some campaigns before thinking about college.
In the near term, Imer says he's putting together a July rally to rev up supporters for his mom's congressional race — dubbed "Put America First" — and hopes to have some luminaries on hand.
"We're looking at bringing out Marjorie Taylor Green and other America First people," he says, naming the controversial Georgia Republican who faces regular calls to step down from her House seat over her inflammatory remarks.
Imer says he's also inviting conservative Charlie Kirk, former Trump adviser Roger Stone and NewsMax TV personality Benny Johnson.
He's also trying to get an invitation to Trump, whose endorsement Imer says he's hoping to secure.
"We fully expect to have him out here campaigning for us when the time comes," he says. "My mom was a CD7-selected delegate to the Republican National Convention by President Trump's team, so we feel that he will come through for us again in this election cycle."
The rally is set to take place at Dirty Dogs Roadhouse, a restaurant in Golden, but Imer says they'll have to find a bigger venue if Trump is attending.