Republican David Winney has withdrawn from the GOP primary for Colorado secretary of state and thrown his support behind Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, her campaign announced Monday.
The first-time candidate from Colorado Springs, who launched a campaign to challenge Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold's bid for reelection last summer, said Friday he instead plans to run in a the primary against El Paso County County Commissioner Cami Bremer, a candidate for reelection to a second term on the five-member board.
Winney, a Marine veteran and information technology professional, announced the move Friday night at Fervent Church in Colorado Springs, where he shared the stage with Peters.
“After much prayer and consideration with all involved, I firmly believe that Tina Peters is the very best candidate to support for Colorado secretary of state to replace Jena Griswold," Winney said in a message to supporters.
"After hearing Tina address everyone on a nationwide conference call, it completely erased any doubt," he added. "I have confirmed to many that I am fully convinced she IS the one! We multiply the positive effects and strength of this state if we both win different positions at the state & county levels.”
Bremer, whose husband, Eli, is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, hadn't had an opponent from either major party until Winney declared his candidacy in the county race.
"The voters in Commissioner District 5 deserve to have an experienced and proven leader who will fight against the onslaught of attacks being forced upon local government," she told Colorado Politics in an emailed statement. "I am proud of my record of accomplishments and understand the real world impacts of each decision. I am not someone just seeking a title and jumping around from race to race; instead I am focused on fighting every day for the families within El Paso County, and I hope I am entrusted to continue that fight for the things my constituents expect from their local government--public safety, economic recovery and vitality, public-private collaboration, and efficient, strategic and transparent use of tax dollars."
Peters, the target of numerous state and federal investigations surrounding an alleged election equipment security breach, welcomed Winney's endorsement. In a release, a spokeswoman described the backing of her former rival as evidence that "the conservative forces within Colorado’s Republican Party are coalescing" around her campaign.
Former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson and economic development specialist Mike O'Donnell remain in the GOP primary for secretary of state, which will be decided on June 28. Candidates should know by mid-April whether they've qualified for the primary ballot.
Winney had struggled to raise money in the secretary of state's race, reporting just over $3,625 in contributions through the end of the year and $1,607 on hand. That compares to the $50,000 O'Donnell loaned his campaign through the most recent reporting period and just short of $50,000 raised by Anderson, which included a $10,000 loan. He finished the quarter with about $40,000 in the bank, and she reported starting the year with $45,000.
Griswold, who is unopposed for the Democratic nomination for a second term, has raised more than $1.6 million and had about $1.4 million on hand at the end of the most recent quarter.
In a statement, Peters heaped praise on Winney, who shares her focus on unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.
"He is a patriot and every Republican voter owes him a debt for recognizing months ago that Jena Griswold cannot remain as secretary of state," Peters said. "The thinking people of Colorado need confidence that our voting process going forward is transparent and that Griswold no longer has her thumb on the scales of our elections."
Last fall, Griswold successfully sued to prevent Peters from overseeing Mesa County's off-year election based on allegations she helped unauthorized people gain access to voting equipment and software.
Peters maintains that she hasn't broken any laws and instead has been trying to unearth evidence of voter fraud, though computer experts say her claims are largely based on misunderstandings about how computer systems work.
Her campaign said the growing number of investigations targeting her — including criminal probes mounted by the FBI, a local grand jury and the Mesa County district attorney, as well as campaign finance and ethics investigations — are actually "unethical, politically-motivated personal and legal attacks against Peters, in retaliation for Peters preserving 2020 elections voter data" after she witnessed "suspicious procedures" in routine software updates.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with a comment from El Paso County Commissioner Cami Bremer.