Republicans in Colorado can win statewide elections with turnout drive, Ganahl tells GOP gathering
CU regent joins Rep. Doug Lamborn, other GOP figures at ‘Big Tent Event’ in Woodland Park
University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl speaks during the Teller County Republicans’ “Big Tent Event” on Aug. 28, 2021. (Julia Fennell/Colorado Newsline)
A ranch in Woodland Park on Saturday was the site of a gathering of Republicans, who shared barbecue and beverages, participated in an AR-15 raffle, and listened to stump speeches from candidates for elective office.
The marquee name on the lineup of the Teller Republicans’ “Big Tent Event” was not-quite-candidate Heidi Ganahl.
Ganahl, who is the only statewide elected Republican in Colorado, is widely viewed as the top potential GOP candidate to run against Gov. Jared Polis next year. Ganahl, a University of Colorado at-large regent, began her speech quoting Ronald Reagan: “The most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’”
Former President Donald Trump won more votes in Colorado in 2020 than Polis won in 2018, Ganahl said.
“So there are about 300,000 voters who showed up in 2020 to vote for Trump that did not vote in 2018 in the governor’s and the other races that year,” she told the crowd. “How about we get those folks out to vote, and perhaps we might be able to win statewide elections again in Colorado, there you go!”
“We fought really hard and we won the race by 100,000 votes in a year where Colorado went heavily to Hillary Clinton and Michael Bennet,” Ganahl said of her election in 2016 for CU regent. “So when people tell you you can’t win in Colorado, or we can’t win in Colorado, I just did a few years ago. It just takes a lot of hard work, really good messaging, and all of us coming together to be that great team that we talk about in football.”
Ganahl offered advice on how Republicans can be more successful in an increasingly blue state, where Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s office.
“What’s next for Colorado? How do we win again?” Ganahl asked the crowd. “Well, we can look at a couple different things. We can look at the regent race and how we did that, by very specifically focusing on the unaffiliated soccer moms, right? We can sell them liberty, we don’t have to give up our principles, we just have to be good at marketing and branding our principles.”
“We are the GOP, where we can be who we want to be, and we can win in 2022,” Ganahl said.
Ganahl called the University of Colorado “the most liberal place in the state.”
Running a state is a big deal.
I’ve always thought of a Governor as someone who is a leader, an inspiration to the team and most of all someone who makes the organization work. On this count Polis has failed. And the stories documenting this are buried.https://t.co/WCpJOzQJbS
— Heidi Ganahl (@heidiganahl) August 10, 2021
Rep. Doug Lamborn, who represents the 5th Congressional District, including Colorado Springs, also spoke at the event. He began his speech stating that he was against teaching critical race theory in schools. Republican candidates running for Colorado school boards who were at the event on Saturday were also against it.
Lamborn told attendees that every American Lamborn’s office was helping to get out of Afghanistan had left the country.
“Let’s get the Americans home safely and then let’s get the Afghans who supported us and whose lives are threatened by the Taliban and bring them here or to another country safely as well. That should be our priority,” Lamborn said.
“It didn’t have to be this way,” Lamborn said, referring to the crisis in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has overrun the country as American troops have pulled out. “Joe Biden is the worst president in our lifetimes without a doubt.”
“It’s so sad we have this lack of leadership at the top. Joe Biden’s approach is pig-headed, and he’s stubborn. He refuses to listen to advice,” Lamborn said.
Joe Biden is the worst president in our lifetimes without a doubt.
– Rep. Doug Lamborn
“Nationally, it looks like the Republicans are going to take back the U.S. House and retire Nancy Pelosi,” Lamborn said, referring to the speaker of the House. This line drew cheers from the audience.
Many speakers thanked veterans and law enforcement for their service. Other speakers mentioned their support for the Second Amendment.
“Teller County is the dream that I’ve always thought of when I was deployed with the Army in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Tommy Allen, who is running for District 2 Teller County commissioner.
He told attendees that he wanted to make sure law enforcement and first responders were taken care of: “We have an incredible, an incredible sheriff, incredible firefighters, and they don’t have all of the tools they need right now to maintain that high level professionalism.”
‘Unmasked and unmuzzled’
Many booths at the event offered “Make America Great Again” or “Trump/Pence 2020” banners. Attendees were able to purchase tickets to enter a raffle for an AR-15 gun.
One attendee found solace in the fact that she could be around like-minded people at the event. She often feels secluded from others in her personal life because of her political opinions, which she often doesn’t voice out loud, the woman, who declined to be named, said. She likes Trump because he was a businessman, not a politician. She also likes Ganahl for the same reason — she is a businesswoman, not a politician.
Almost all attendees and speakers at the event, which took place at Sourdough Ranch in Woodland Park, did not wear a mask, though the majority of the event took place outside and the indoor part was covered only with a tent. Some attendees carried firearms. One woman wore a shirt that said she was “unmasked and unmuzzled.”
David Rusterholtz, who previously ran in the Republican primary for Teller County commissioner, had a booth to advertise his candidacy for Woodland Park School Board. He believes the purpose of schools should be to teach how to think critically, not what to think, he said. He is “serious about protecting kids from intruders,” but acknowledged that there is no one solution to the problem of gun violence in schools. He wants to investigate the possibility of arming teachers who are well trained by experts.
Rusterholtz thinks parents should be the people to decide whether to send their child to school wearing a mask. He supports parents who want to send their children to school in a mask and those who don’t. But he agrees with parents who don’t want to send their children to school in a mask, he said.
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