Erik Aadland, a former congressional candidate, announced his candidacy for Colorado GOP chair on Monday.
Another prominent election conspiracy theorist has joined the race to be the next leader of the Colorado Republican Party.
Erik Aadland, a former congressional candidate who falsely claimed the 2020 election was “absolutely rigged,” announced his candidacy for state GOP chair on Monday.
“With the door unexpectedly closing on my congressional bid, another door opens, and given the dire state of Colorado and our Grand Old Party, I cannot quit the arena,” Aadland wrote in an email to supporters. “Though it will not be easy, I seek to lead our party out of despair, to go on the offensive, and to take on the Radical Left destroying our state.”
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In November, Aadland suffered a 15-point defeat to Democratic U.S. Rep. Brittany Pettersen in the race for the open seat in the 7th Congressional District, centered on Denver’s western suburbs. An Army veteran and former oil and gas executive, Aadland previously ran for the Colorado GOP’s 2020 U.S. Senate nomination before withdrawing and jumping to the 7th District race.
In a June 2021 speech to a local Republican group, Aadland, who was then still a candidate for Senate, called the 2020 presidential election “absolutely rigged,” and compared the “crisis” the country faced to the Civil War.
“We are on the precipice of losing this country if we don’t stand up and fight,” he told a gathering of the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club. “This country on the brink of being taken over by a communist government.”
The video of Aadland’s speech was later removed from the club’s website. In an uphill battle against Pettersen in the Democratic-leaning 7th District, he later backtracked on his comments, calling his position “nuanced” and declining to “commit to a black-or-white answer” on whether fraud impacted the 2020 results.
Aadland’s announcement doesn’t weigh in explicitly on the 2020 election but leans heavily on debunked claims and rhetoric used by many election conspiracy theorists. He promises to convene a committee that will consider a range of options including “cleaning the voter rolls,” abolishing Colorado’s mail-in ballot system and “getting rid of the current voting machines.”
“Far too many people lack faith in our election system,” Aadland wrote. “Early in 2023, I will commission a committee to advise the chairman on how to best restore integrity to our election system in Colorado.”
Kristi Burton Brown, a longtime anti-abortion activist who was elected state party chair in 2021, announced last month that she would not seek another term. Other candidates who have announced bids for the position include former congressional nominee Casper Stockham and conservative activist Aaron Wood. Stockham campaigned unsuccessfully for the position two years ago on an election-denial platform.
The Colorado GOP’s central committee will select the new chair in March.
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