Briefline

‘Let’s Go Brandon’ should not appear with Rep. Williams’ name on primary ballot, judge rules

By: - April 27, 2022 3:03 pm
Rep. Dave Williams

Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, speaks on the House floor Dec. 2, 2020. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)

Republican congressional candidate Dave Williams will not have “Let’s Go Brandon” appear as a nickname on the June primary ballot, a Denver District Court judge ruled Wednesday.

“Upon consideration of all of this testimony, evidence, briefing, argument and authority the Court held a hearing today by videoconference and entered on the record findings of fact, conclusions of law and an order denying relief on the petition,” District Court judge Andrew McCallin wrote.

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Williams, a state representative who is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, sought to have “Let’s Go Brandon” appear as part of his name on the primary ballot, claiming that it is a widely known nickname. The phrase originated last fall as an epithet against President Joe Biden when a reporter misunderstood a “F*** Joe Biden” crowd chant at a NASCAR race. The reporter was interviewing race winner Brandon Brown at the time and thought the crowd was cheering for him.

Since then, the phrase has been used by Republican critics of the president, including Rep. Lauren Boebert.

Williams sued earlier this month to have his name appear as “Dave ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Williams” on the ballot after Secretary of State Jena Griswold denied his request. Candidates are allowed to have nicknames on the ballot as long as they don’t reference the name of a political party. McCallin, however, ruled that Griswold exercised appropriate authority when denying the nickname request on the basis that the phrase is a slogan, even though Williams had been using it as a nickname since at least early April.

“The Court’s decision today affirms that the content of the ballot is not a place for political gamesmanship. As Secretary of State, I will always protect Colorado voters’ right to accessible elections and that includes a ballot that is fair and transparent. My Office will continue to uphold Colorado Election law and safeguard voters’ right to make their voice heard,” Griswold said in a statement following the decision.

Williams plans to appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court. The timeline is tricky, as Griswold’s office needs to certify the primary ballot, including how candidate names appear, by Friday.

He also attacked the court when announcing the appeal plans. In a statement, Williams said that if the higher court does not hear his appeal, it is “derelict” in its duty and called for state lawmakers to remove the justices’ salaries.

“The Colorado Supreme Court should do its job and hear this appeal because the corrupt SOS shouldn’t be allowed to violate the rule of law,” he said. “The district judge agreed that my nickname was in compliance with state law but then granted authority to the SOS where none exists.”

Primary elections are on June 28.

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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