University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl announces her 2022 campaign for Colorado governor outside Rosie’s Diner in Monument on Sept. 14, 2021. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)
Heidi Ganahl was given every possible chance to state plainly she trusts election results. The Republican candidate for Colorado governor has had ample opportunity to assure supporters that President Joe Biden earned his position in the White House legitimately. She has been given the benefit of the doubt repeatedly, long after it was clear she was incapable of expressing basic faith in American democratic processes.
Then, this week, she selected an election conspiracy theorist to be her running mate.
At long last, it’s time to say it: Heidi Ganahl is an election denier.
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Discomfort with the election question was the story of her campaign, and it was the story of the event in September when she announced her candidacy and evaded the question of whether the 2020 election was stolen.
Given the facts of the election’s integrity, and given the fundamental standards of trust that are required for a democracy to remain healthy, it was a tee-ball question. She chose to take a strike.
She took strikes for the subsequent eight months, eluding election questions or finding herself on the wrong side of them. She praised a Colorado election-denial group. She took an uncomfortably favorable view of notorious coup plotter John Eastman for an uncomfortably long time. Just days before the June 28 primary, she stated she didn’t believe “there was enough fraud that could have flipped the election,” the closest she ever came to affirming the legitimacy of Biden’s win. But she framed the statement in a way that signaled an erroneous belief that substantial fraud occurred.
This troubling narrative culminated Monday, when Ganahl announced Danny Moore would be her running mate. If Coloradans know Moore at all, it’s from his appearance in the news last year when he was demoted from a leadership position on the Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission after journalists discovered he had written on social media that the “election of 2020 will go down as the most questioned election in our country’s history” and referred to it as “the Democrat steal.”
A textbook election denier — that’s who Ganahl, who has been dodging election-denial questions through her whole campaign, picked to stand by her side for the remainder of the race.
And in defending the selection, Ganahl spokeswoman Lexi Swearingen reverted to equivocations by saying of these running mates, “They agree Joe Biden is our president,” implying that they don’t agree with the fact-based community about how Biden became president.
Ganahl, as far as is known, has not said outright that she thinks the election was stolen. But at this point, given her consistently suspect posture toward the subject and, more importantly, the message it sends to her supporters, it would be journalistically negligent not to call her election denialism what it is.
Ganahl is an election denier, and to claim otherwise is no longer credible. But she did one better than that — on Monday she insisted during an interview with KOA that “Danny is not an election denier,” according to The Unaffiliated, a subscription newsletter from The Colorado Sun. How’s that for a big lie about the “big lie.”
A University of Colorado regent, Ganahl was one of several Republican candidates in the primary who triumphed over extreme-right contenders, which allowed some observers to feel justified in declaring victory for sanity in the Colorado GOP. Compared to her opponent, fringe figure Greg Lopez, Ganahl appeared to be the moderate choice. But that shouldn’t excuse her own extremism, even if she rounds the edges.
The same goes for every Republican who is unwilling to state plainly that American elections are essentially free and fair. Kristi Burton Brown, chair of the Colorado Republican Party, for months prior to Ganahl’s gubernatorial run bobbed and weaved in the face of “election integrity” questions, and thanks to the toxic success of false stop-the-steal rhetoric, this model of evasion is assumed in many red regions to be a minimum requirement.
Politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, exaggerate their accomplishments, spin their failures and avoid uncomfortable questions. Election denial is different. The effect of lying on taxes or health care or foreign conflict could mean wasted revenues or lost lives. Election denial threatens a lost republic.
Heidi Ganahl no longer gets a pass, because, as an election denier, she contributes to that threat.
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