Erik Aadland, then a candidate for U.S. Senate, spoke to the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club on June 7, 2021. (screenshot)
A Jefferson County Republican group has quietly removed from its website a video of a conspiracy theory-laden speech by Colorado congressional candidate Erik Aadland, in which he falsely claimed the 2020 election was “absolutely rigged.”
Aadland, an Army veteran and former oil and gas executive, spoke to the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club in June 2021, shortly after declaring his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Following longtime Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s announcement that he would not seek reelection in 2022, Aadland jumped to the 7th Congressional District race, where he faces state Democratic Sen. Brittany Pettersen.
“The 2020 election, it was rigged. Absolutely rigged,” Aadland said in the speech to Jefferson County Republicans last year. “If you do enough looking into it, I think you’ll be convinced.”
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“It’s extremely scary what transpired,” he continued. “There was a significant amount of fraud in the 2020 election.”
The JRMC meets weekly in Lakewood to hear from featured speakers, many of whom are GOP candidates for elective office. Dozens of speaker videos dating back to 2015 remain on its website, but the recording of Aadland’s June 7, 2021, appearance is no longer available. The group did not immediately respond to emailed questions about the video’s removal.
Colorado congressional candidate Erik Aadland falsely claimed the 2020 election was "absolutely rigged" in a 2021 video since taken down from a local GOP group's website. pic.twitter.com/Rl4cl64WaU
— Chase Woodruff (@dcwoodruff) August 29, 2022
Facing a tough race against Pettersen in a district that leans Democratic, Aadland has since hedged over questions about the legitimacy of the 2020 election. In April, he told KNUS radio host George Brauchler that he could not say “definitively” whether or not fraud affected the outcome, and that he would not “commit to a black-or-white answer.”
Aadland’s campaign did not respond to questions about his position on the 2020 election or the removal of the June 2021 video. Conspiracy theories alleging widespread fraud in the election have been debunked by experts, courts and former President Donald Trump’s own campaign and administration officials.
Aadland began his remarks to the JRMC in dark, conspiratorial terms, warning that the country is in the midst of a “crisis” unlike any it has faced since the Civil War.
“We are on the precipice of losing this country if we don’t stand up and fight,” he said. “This country on the brink of being taken over by a communist government.”
Aadland secured the GOP nomination in the 7th District with 48% of the vote in the June 28 primary, defeating economist Tim Reichert and far-right activist Laurel Imer. His campaign website does not directly question the results of the 2020 election, but says, “Election integrity is a non-partisan issue. In recent years we have seen concerns raised on both sides of the aisle, and we must address them.”
Aadland’s shifting rhetoric on election fraud comes as several Republican candidates across the country backtrack on their previously stated positions, amid renewed hopes among Democrats that their party can avoid significant losses in the 2022 midterm elections.
In Arizona, GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters scrubbed his website of claims that he is “100% pro-life” and released an ad backtracking on his previous support for abortion restrictions, while Washington Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley released a similar ad denying support for a federal abortion ban.
Meanwhile, Joe O’Dea, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Colorado, backed off his position in support of Trump’s reelection if he wins the party’s 2024 presidential nomination, telling the Washington Post that “we’ll have to see” after his campaign previously told 9News that he would vote for Trump in the general election.
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