The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Colorado GOP picks election-denying former state legislator to lead party

Former Colorado state representative Dave Williams speaks during a debate in the state Republican Party leadership contest last month. (David Zalubowski/AP)
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Colorado’s Republican Party voted in former state representative Dave Williams, a 2020 election-results denier, as its leader Saturday. Williams is known for suing to get the anti-Joe Biden phrase “Let’s go Brandon” added to his name on voters’ ballots last year.

Williams defeated six other candidates after delivering a speech in which he promised to be a “wartime” leader for the Colorado GOP, a two-year role. In a state that has become increasingly Democratic in recent years, Williams said Republicans can win elections with a more aggressive approach, criticizing Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney and Mitch McConnell as “timid” leaders.

“Our party doesn’t have a brand problem,” Williams told about 400 activists and GOP leaders in a Loveland, Colo., hotel conference room. “Our party has a problem with feckless leaders who are ashamed of you.”

Williams served three terms in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2017 until this past January, representing a Colorado Springs district. In June, he lost to Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) in the primary race for Colorado’s 5th Congressional District.

Since former president Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, Williams has questioned the results. After an audit showed there were no problems in Colorado’s voting system, Williams was among a group of state Republicans in December 2020 to request an independent investigation of Dominion Voting Systems. (There is no evidence that any voting systems were compromised.) In January 2022, Williams repeated false claims on a Colorado radio station that President Biden wasn’t legitimately elected.

Last year, Williams sued Colorado’s secretary of state after she prohibited him from appearing as “Dave ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Williams” on a state primary ballot. A Denver district judge ruled against Williams, who still includes the nickname on social media.

How ‘Let’s go Brandon’ became an unofficial GOP slogan

In December, Kristi Burton Brown opted not to serve a second term as chair of Colorado’s GOP. The party continued to struggle during her stint and has been losing voters since the 2016 election, according to the Colorado Sun.

During his nearly four-minute nomination speech Saturday, Williams said he’ll be a “conservative champion” for Colorado Republicans. He also advocated restricting unaffiliated voters from submitting ballots in the Republican primary.

After his speech, attendees chanted “Dave!” When those cheers quieted, someone in the crowd shouted “Let’s go, Brandon!” That prompted Williams to smile and repeat the phrase while pumping a fist.

Williams later secured the nomination, receiving about 55 percent of the 375 votes — meeting the 50 percent requirement — after former Mesa County clerk Tina Peters endorsed him. Peters, who has embraced election-fraud conspiracy theories, is awaiting trial on several felony charges after she was accused of accessing voting machines in her county illegally, and she was found guilty of obstruction of justice this month in a separate incident.

While many promoters of false voter fraud claims lost in state elections last year, Republicans in Idaho, Kansas and Michigan recently preceded Colorado in selecting election deniers as their leaders.