Republican Pam Anderson, a former two-term Jefferson County clerk and recorder, said Saturday she's hoping to deny Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold a second term as Colorado's top election official.
Anderson, who headed the Colorado County Clerks Association for five years after she was term-limited as clerk, played a central role in establishing the state's all-mail balloting system and says she believes the 2020 election was conducted securely, rejecting suggestions prevalent in GOP circles that it was marred by fraud.
"I think we need to restore trust in our elections," Anderson told Colorado Politics. "I’ve been increasingly concerned about the hyper-partisan nature of the rhetoric both around elections and the office of secretary of state and feel we need to return to a trusted professional in that office. I feel I can help inform the voters on how all of this works and help to move the ball forward on the outstanding election system we have here Colorado."
Anderson announced her candidacy Saturday morning on a conservative talk radio show on KNUS hosted by George Brauchler, a former district attorney and GOP nominee for attorney general. Her launch was first reported by The Colorado Sun.
Griswold, the first Democratic woman elected to the office, unseated Republican Wayne Williams in 2018, the same year Democrats swept major races across Colorado. She has been a prominent critic of baseless allegations made by supporters of former President Donald Trump, who contend that the 2020 election was rigged.
"As secretary of state, I am proud of the work we have done to protect the right to vote and ensure that every eligible Coloradan can participate in our democracy," Griswold said in a statement released by her campaign Saturday.
"Under my leadership, we expanded access to voting, increased election security, and oversaw record-breaking elections even during the pandemic. And when anti-democratic forces have tried to suppress the vote, I have stopped them. No matter who enters this race, I will always be laser-focused on delivering results for Colorado voters."
Through a spokesman, Griswold declined a request for an interview Saturday morning.
Anderson is the first Republican with experience in politics to declare for the seat. David Winney, a first-time candidate with a background in information technology, filed paperwork to run in July and has raised a couple thousand dollars since.
A Wheat Ridge resident, Anderson owns Consilium Colorado, an election consulting business. Her mother-in-law, Lakewood Republican Norma Anderson, served 19 years in the General Assembly and was the first Republican woman to serve as majority leader in the state House and Senate.
Griswold's campaign has a big head start ahead of next year's election, reporting more than $1.1 million in the bank after the fundraising period that ended last month — more than she spent winning election three years ago.
Anderson said she's seen no evidence that there was any widespread election fraud, either in Colorado or around the country.
Noting that she helped establish Colorado's system of voting on verifiable paper ballots — and then verifying that votes were tabulated accurately in post-election audits — Anderson said her work in other states as an election consultant since last year's election has left her convinced the results were accurate.
"It was the most secure election we’ve ever had," she said.
"I have a strong record of listening to those concerns and giving the facts about how our system works, as well as not throwing red meat around the partisan politics of the issue," Anderson said. "I believe Republicans, just like Democrats and unaffiliated voters, want access and security in their elections."
Anderson said she was disturbed by recent news out of Mesa County, where Tina Peters, the elected Republican clerk and recorder, is facing allegations she helped facilitate a security breach that led to online leaks of sensitive election data, including system passwords and election equipment software.
Griswold prevailed last week in a high-profile lawsuit that sought to prohibit Peters and her deputy from having a role in the upcoming November election, citing their attempts to unearth evidence that voting equipment had been manipulated. Peters and her deputy are facing multiple criminal investigations over their part in the scheme.
"I was extremely disturbed by that," Anderson said. "It’s one of the reasons I’m running. I feel I have a proven, ethical, experienced record to be able to speak to these issues with credibility.
"As the executive director of the clerks association, one of my roles was training independently elected election officials. Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or unaffiliated, you have a duty and an obligation to maintain the utmost election security, including basic chain of custody, and I was very disturbed by that. It’s an example of how partisanship can create issues."
Anderson said another reason she decided to run was what she characterized as Griswold's partisan approach to the office.
I’m also not going to use the office for other partisan purposes," she said. "I’m not running for another office."
Although Griswold's Republican predecessors mounted campaigns while serving as Secretary of State — Mike Coffman won a seat in Congress and Scott Gessler ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor while in office — Anderson said Griswold's public exploration of a U.S. Senate campaign in 2019, months after being sworn into office, was different.
"You have to be focused on the job you asked your supporters for," Anderson said. "This is my life’s work. This is why I want to run."
Since last year, Griswold has been a frequent guest on national news programs, where she describes Colorado's voting system as the "gold standard" for election security and has criticized efforts by Republicans across the country to restrict access to voting.
"I don’t think people see a difference from the office outreach and what you do as a political person," Anderson said.
"I’ve been a member of my party my whole life, but when you look at Jena’s activity, I think you can definitely see a difference. I believe it’s divisive. I think she tags the entire GOP, and I don’t think that’s appropriate. It’s to run to the base, I think it’s to raise money, I think it’s clickbait. I’m not a political neophyte, but this office is above that, for good reason."
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