Pam Anderson, who acknowledged that Joe Biden was legitimately elected in 2020, won Colorado’s Republican secretary of state primary Tuesday night, defeating an election skeptic who’d pushed the lie that the contest had been stolen from former President Donald Trump.
The Associated Press called the race for Anderson, who easily knocked off Tina Peters, the Mesa County clerk who was indicted last year on charges that she allowed someone to improperly access and download data from election machines as she sought to prove that widespread fraud had occurred in the state’s 2020 presidential election.
Anderson, by contrast, bluntly stated that the 2020 election was legitimate in a recent interview with The Colorado Sun, in which she acknowledged that Biden had won the presidency.
“No,” Anderson said when asked if she believed the race had been stolen from Trump. “Here in Colorado we have independent, verifiable paper ballot audits that have found no evidence that the outcome was incorrect.”
Election deniers like Peters fared poorly across Colorado on Tuesday: Businessman Joe O’Dea, who also accepted Biden’s victory as legitimate, won the GOP Senate primary over state Rep. Ron Hanks (R), who staked his campaign on Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.
Anderson, a former county clerk with experience overseeing elections, will now face Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold in November’s general election. Her victory is the second major win for a Republican who has defended the legitimacy of the 2020 election in a GOP secretary of state primary, after Georgia incumbent Brad Raffensperger (R) easily defeated a Trump-endorsed primary challenger in May.
It also ensures that elections in a key swing state will not be overseen by an election denier. Peters was no ordinary skeptic: She was barred from overseeing local elections in Mesa County in 2021 and has similarly been banned from running the county’s elections this year.
That ranked her among the nation’s most ardent election skeptics: “Election deniers are winning nominations for secretary of state across the nation. But no one is more extreme than Tina Peters,” Griswold told HuffPost before the election.
In March 2021, a grand jury indicted Peters on seven felony charges related to elections. Prosecutors alleged that Peters committed identity theft and other crimes after she used a Colorado voter’s name to provide someone else access to Mesa County’s voting machines, allowing them to download data from the electoral system.
Peters and her deputy, prosecutors said, later shared that information, as well as passwords to election files, with conspiracy theorists who’d promoted the idea that the 2020 election had been stolen from former Trump.
Had she won, Peters would have joined a number of GOP election deniers who have won primaries as they seek to take over the American electoral system.
Jim Marchant, a former state lawmaker who has claimed the 2020 election was rigged, won Nevada’s secretary of state primary earlier this month. Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who attempted to overturn the results of the election in his state, this spring won the GOP gubernatorial nomination, and would have the power to appoint a secretary of state should he win the general election this fall.
Election deniers are also seeking — and may be likely to win — GOP secretary of state nominations in Arizona, Michigan and Minnesota, which will hold primaries later this year.
“The nation can expect these candidates, if elected, to suppress the vote, create security breaches, push out lies, and further destabilize American elections,” Griswold, the chairwoman of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, a party campaign arm, said. “We cannot allow election deniers to oversee the nation’s elections ― that’s why democracy is at Code Red right now.”
Peters has claimed the indictment is a politically-motivated effort to keep her from investigating claims of fraud in Colorado’s election, during which there were no credible reports or findings of widespread irregularities. Biden won the state by roughly 14 points and nearly 500,000 votes.
“I will never plead guilty because I’ve committed no crime,” she told the Colorado Sun. “This is a political maneuver to color the minds of the voters to keep me out of the Secretary of State’s Office.”
Anderson previously served as the county clerk of Jefferson County, Colorado’s fourth-most populous. She told the Sun that she would lean on the state’s “long tradition of nonpartisan election administration” were she to become secretary of state. Anderson also said that she would not seek major changes to Colorado’s current election system, in which voters are automatically mailed absentee ballots.
Peters wanted to end that practice, instead limiting absentee voting to those who could not cast ballots in person.
Peters was not the only election denier seeking office in Colorado, where numerous Republican candidates in local county clerk races have questioned the results of the 2020 election. That includes Mesa County, where a Republican conspiracy theorist squared off Tuesday night with another candidate who has acknowledged that the 2020 race was free of the fraud Trump and Peters have baselessly said occurred. That election denier appears to have lost as well.