The Republican primary for Colorado’s House District 25 reflects the sharp divide between the party's moderate and conservative factions.
State Rep. Colin Larson of Littleton, who currently represents House District 22, is fighting for the Republican nomination with retired teacher Dede Wagner, who has expressed support for QAnon on social media and criticized Larson for supporting some Democratic bills while in office.
The race between a little-known political newcomer and a four-year incumbent looking to secure his third term in the House has been unexpectedly competitive. Both candidates earned spots on the primary ballot during the Jefferson County Republican assembly in March, with Larson receiving 49 delegate votes and Wagner getting 48.
The fundraising for the candidates is also relatively close. As of Tuesday, Larson’s campaign raised $8,981 and Wagner’s raised $5,040, according to data from the Secretary of State’s Office.
On her website, Wagner calls Larson a “Littleton liberal” and herself a “constitutional conservative,” denouncing Larson’s “yes” votes on bills to prohibit conversion therapy for minors and make it easier for people to change their gender on identifying documents. She also criticized Larson’s “no” vote on a bill amendment calling for an audit of the 2020 and 2021 elections.
Larson, who has been challenged in every primary since 2018, is one of the more moderate Republican members of the House. He cast the most third-reading “yes” votes on bills among House Republicans during the 2021 session and the third-most “yes” votes in the 2019 session, as reported by The Colorado Sun. During the 2022 session, 88% of the bills Larson prime sponsored received bipartisan sponsorship.
However, Larson only voted “yes” on 60.2% of bills in 2021, meaning he voted against a higher percentage of bills than nearly every Republican member of the Senate. Only two Republican senators — Paul Lundeen of Monument and Jim Smallwood of Parker — voted in a less bipartisan manner than Larson.
If elected, Wagner pledged to align her voting with representatives she called the House’s “real conservative(s)," such as Mark Baisley, Stephanie Luck, Patrick Neville, Kim Ransom, Shane Sandridge and Dave Williams. The representatives voted “yes” on between 43.6% and 30.4% of bills in 2021, according to The Colorado Sun.
Wagner’s campaign website speaks against “red flag” gun laws, COVID-19 mask mandates and teaching “critical race theory” in schools. On her personal Facebook account, Wagner has argued that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election and spread unsubstantiated claims of election fraud. Wagner’s posts also include calling COVID-19 a “Chinese/Dem plot to cripple USA” and expressing support for QAnon, saying, “My ‘Q’ friends are patriots" and, “We — PRESIDENT TRUMP, Q, and us — are the champions."
Larson’s website includes policy priorities of supporting law enforcement, addressing rising costs of living and allowing parents to make decisions regarding their children’s education.
The winner of the Republican primary will face the Democratic candidate, state Sen. Tammy Story of Evergreen, in November. Story is running for the House after being drawn out of her Senate district into one that heavily favors Republicans.
The recently redrawn House District 25 is one of the most politically competitive in the state: 45.8% of its active registered voters are unaffiliated, 28.6% are Republicans and 24.1% are Democrats, according to May data from the Secretary of State’s Office. House District 25 is in Jefferson County, including all of Morrison and a portion of Littleton.