July 25th, 2024

Jeff Crank defeats Colorado GOP chair and hard-line conservative Dave Williams in US House primary

By Jesse Bedayn, The Associated Press on June 25, 2024.

DENVER (AP) – Political consultant and talk radio host Jeff Crank has defeated Colorado GOP Chairman Dave Williams in the Republican primary for the state’s 5th Congressional District.

Williams faced condemnation from fellow Republicans over his leadership including the use of party resources to boost his own campaign.

Williams, a former state representative, has tried to realign the state GOP with the far-right flank of the national party. In recent GOP communications, he called people celebrating Gay Pride Month “godless groomers” and urged people to burn pride flags.

Crank is a more traditional Republican, less inclined toward fiery invective and the party’s hard-right wing.

Williams was already in hot water before the emails. A complaint against him with the Federal Elections Commission alleges that he used the state party email list to announce his campaign for Congress and spent party money on mailers that included an attack on Crank.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

DENVER (AP) – U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert won the Republican primary in a U.S. House race that she jumped into last year, surviving a scandal over a video of her at a Denver theater and accusations of carpetbagging after fleeing what could have been a tough reelection bid in her current district.

Boebert built national hard-line conservative stardom through a take-no-prisoners political style in the House. That clout likely made it easier for her to weather the scandals of the last year, which included the video of her vaping and causing a disturbance at a musical production of “Beetlejuice.”

She beat a group of more traditional, homegrown primary candidates who had far less name recognition and generally less combative political styles: former state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg; current state Reps. Mike Lynch and Richard Holtorf; and parental rights advocate Deborah Flora.

Boebert is expected to also win the November general election in the district, which sweeps across a wide expanse of ranches, ghost towns and conservative parts of the Denver metro area that make up much of the plains of eastern Colorado. Its voters overwhelmingly backed former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

She said she switched districts to ensure another Republican could win her seat, which she nearly lost in 2022, and she blamed outside groups for targeting her. But she had already become a fundraising magnet for that other district’s likely Democratic candidate, who has pulled in millions that may help him flip a seat that has leaned Republican in recent years.

Boebert entered her election night gathering in the evening toting a pair of reflective gold sneakers sold by Trump and a white “Make America Great Again” hat with his signature across the bill.

While the theater incident and district jump rattled some Republicans, Gilbert Kendzior, 68, shrugged them off, saying, “Who’s perfect?”

Kendzior said he voted for Boebert because she shakes things up. “It’s gotten too staid. Same promises, nothing happens,” he said. “We need to get rid of the old farts.”

The seat opened up after former Republican Rep. Ken Buck resigned from Congress. In a special election Tuesday to fill the remaining months of Buck’s term, Republican Greg Lopez, a former mayor of the city of Parker, beat a Democratic and third-party candidates.

Buck cited the divisiveness of today’s politics and his party’s devotion to Trump in explaining his decision to resign. That division remains a factor in the race and is also on display in another Republican House primary in Colorado Springs, about an hour’s drive south of Denver.

In the 5th District, Republican Dave Williams faced condemnation from his own ranks and demands for his resignation as GOP party chair, accused of using his position and state party resources to boost his own campaign.

The final straw for some Republicans was a recent email calling people celebrating Gay Pride Month “godless groomers.” The state party’s account on the social platform X also posted: “Burn all the #pride flags this June.”

Williams’ opponent in the primary was Jeff Crank, a conservative commentator who has a similar political platform but breaks in style and disposition. Both are vying to fill the seat of Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn, who is not seeking reelection.

Williams is a hard-line Trump acolyte who has parroted the former president’s lies about the 2020 election and attacked fellow Republicans who don’t align. Crank is molded in an older, more pragmatic GOP tradition.

As in the 4th District, the winner of the Republican-friendly 5th District will be favored in the general election.

Another GOP House race watched closely on the national level was the 8th District, newly minted after redistricting in 2021 and hotly contested with voters roughly split between the two major parties.

Republican state Rep. Gabe Evans, a former police officer, defeated former state Rep. Janak Joshi, a retired physician, in the race to challenge Democratic incumbent Yadira Caraveo. Caraveo won the 8th District, which stretches north of Denver, by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2022.

The primary winner will likely benefit from a windfall of support from the National Republican Campaign Committee, which is intent on defending the party’s thin House majority.

Farther to the west, among the Rocky Mountains and high desert mesas, a half-dozen Republicans were looking to replace Boebert as the nominee in the 3rd District.

The contenders include attorney Jeff Hurd and former Republican state Rep. Ron Hanks, whose differences largely follow the contours of Cranks’ and Williams’, respectively. Other candidates include Stephen Varela, a former Democrat who switched parties, businessman Lew Webb and financial advisor Russ Andrews.

The winner will be up against Adam Frisch, the businessman and Democratic candidate who lost to Boebert by only 546 votes in 2022, garnering name recognition from that close race. in the conservative district. Frisch raised at least $13 million for his 2024 campaign.

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This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Rep. Caraveo’s first name to Yadira, instead of Yadiro.

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Jesse Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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